West Ham 1 Leeds United 1

A CONTROVERSIAL last minute penalty has earned Leeds United a 1-1 draw at Upton Park after Luke Chadwick had given the Hammers a 50th minute lead.

Despite the return of senior players Hayden Mullins Nigel Reo-Coker and Malky Mackay, Alan Pardew kept the same team that won 2-0 at Sunderland. On loan goalkeeper Robert Burch replaced the injured Jimmy Walker on the bench.

Roared on by a passionate Upton Park crowd, Alan Pardew's men took the game to Leeds right from the kick-off.
Just two minutes had passed when Sergei Rebrov tested Neil Sullivan with a stinging drive, and less than a minute later Darren Powell had the ball rebounding off the Leeds crossbar. But the big defender was adjudged to have used his hand instead of his head.

Five minutes later Darren was involved in action at the other end when his short back-pass allowed former Hammers striker Brian Deane a route to goal, but his shot skimmed off the crossbar on its way over.

Alan Pardew's men continued to press forward. Hesitancy in the Leeds defence, which included former Hammers loanee Matthew Kilgallon, let Sergei Rebrov in, but West Ham's penalty appeal was waved away after the diminutive Ukraine striker was bundled over in the box.

With the teams trading chances, David Healey almost put Leeds ahead just five minutes later when his shot deflected off Anton Ferdinand and looped over Bywater only to drop wide of the post.

Luke Chadwick was at the heart of most of West Ham's good work in the first-half and on 35 minutes he danced his way into the Leeds penalty area and cut the ball back only to see his cross smothered by Sullivan before it could reach Marlon Harewood.

With two minutes to go until half-time Leeds had a hopeful penalty appeal turned down when Ferdinand collided with midfielder Danny Pugh on the edge of the box.

Despite forcing their way forward in the closing stages, Alan Pardew's men could not penetrate the miserly Leeds defence and the team's went off with the scores goalless at half-time.

HT: 0-0

The second-half began with the introduction of Teddy Sheringham, Sergei Rebrov the player remaining in the dressing-room at half-time.

The switch brought immediate results. With 50 minutes gone Matty Etherington swung over a cross from the left, and after Kilgallon had failed to clear under pressure from Harewood, Luke Chadwick stabbed the ball past Sullivan from close range.

After the goal, this cagey game suddenly began to open up. Brian Deane wasted two great opportunities in a minute to equalise when he first headed straight at Bywater from close range and then fired wide from David Healey's cross with only the Hammers goalkeeper to beat.

Pressed into five minutes of defence duty, the Hammers rearguard stood firm against an onslaught of Leeds crosses. When Alan Pardew's men did break out they did so with pace and power. Etherington and Harewood combined superbly to engineer a counter-attack, with Matty's slide-rule pass releasing Marlon down the left channel. But his low cross failed to find a claret and blue shirt and was smuggled clear by the Leeds defence.

After 66 minutes Hammers goalscorer Luke Chadwick was forced off with an injury, replaced by Nigel Reo-Coker, who occupied Luke's position on the right of midfield.

But the Hammers still stroked the ball around with aplomb. On 72 minutes Sheringham's neat through-ball set Steve Lomas away, but the midfielder couldn't dig the ball out of his feet at the crucial moment and Paul Butler got around to make a tackle.

Down the same left channel, which West Ham exploited well all night, Sheringham was slipped in by Harewood's precision pass and the veteran striker brought a good stop out of Sullivan at his near post.

Harewood had a chance of his own soon after, but couldn't keep his header down from Matty Etherington's cross.

Full of confidence Alan Pardew's men continued to pour forward, backed by a crowd of 30,684 inside Upton Park on a cold night in the East End. Darren Powell, a menace to Leeds at set-pieces, had a great chance to score when he rose above the visitors' defence to meet Matty Etherington's free-kick, but his powerful header was tipped over by Sullivan. 

With Alan Pardew's men in control, West Ham never looked like losing. But with the game almost over David Healy burst into the box and went down under challenge from Steve Lomas and Anton Ferdinand.

Referee Pike had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and as West Ham's frustration boiled over a fierce confrontation erupted in the penalty area.

When order was eventually restored Healy stepped up to convert the penalty himself, firing low to Bywater's left, leaving the West Ham goalkeeper with no chance.

It was a bitter blow for Alan Pardew's men, who had dominated the game, and at the final whistle the Upton Park crowd vented its frustration at the penalty decision with a chorus of jeers.