Cool Collins Seals South Coast Point

JAMES Collins' first goal in claret and blue secured a 1-1 draw for West Ham United at Portsmouth, after Gary O'Neil had opened the scoring for the home side.

With three players, including substitute Danny Gabbidon, succumbing to injury in the first-half it was a magnificent effort from Alan Pardew's men in the second period to earn a vital away point from former boss Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth.

Pards made two changes from the side that lost 4-2 to Newcastle, fit-again Nigel Reo-Coker coming in for Carl Fletcher, who dropped to the bench, and Shaun Newton replaced the injured Yossi Benayoun.

James Collins continued to deputise for the injured Danny Gabbidon, while Reo-Coker captained the team on his return.

Portsmouth started brightly, Dario Silva testing Roy Carroll with a low drive inside two minutes, which Marlon Harewood answered with a smart turn and shot from just inside the box that flew wide of Jamie Ashdown's near post.

Hammers suffered a blow after only 12 minutes when Mullins had to leave the field with concussion after a clash of heads, to be replaced by Fletcher.

And after a steady stream of pressure it was Portsmouth that opened the scoring after 17 minutes. Lomana Lua Lua showed great skill to beat Paul Konchesky out on the touchline and play in a low cross that Laurent Robert touched back to Gary O'Neil, who curled a shot past Carroll from 12 yards out to make it 1-0.

On 20 minutes Portsmouth suffered an injury blow of their own when defender Linvoy Primus limped from the field to be replaced by Brian Priske.

Roy Carroll survived a scare on 25 minutes when under pressure from the pacy Lua Lua he appeared to catch the ball while standing outside his penalty area. Referee Alan Wiley, who was badly positioned standing half way up the pitch, waved play on.

With Portsmouth dominating Hammers were struggling to get into this game on a cold, Boxing Day afternoon on the South Coast.

Their chances were dealt a further blow on 33 minutes when Tomas Repka pulled up clutching his hamstring and limped off. His replacement was Danny Gabbidon, after making a brave recovery from the badly gashed knee he sustained at Blackburn.

Instantly though Gabbidon started hobbling, and appreared to be in severe discomfort. The defender was soon forced into action, kicking clear a low cross from Brian Priske inside his own six-yard box.

Gabbidon tried to continue, but there was no way, and with six minutes to go until half-time the Wales international accepted the inevitable and made way for Christian Dailly.

Carroll then had to be alert to race from his line and kick the ball high into the stands with Lua Lua bearing down.

It was all Portsmouth as the game reached the half-way stage with West Ham United behind 1-0.

HT: 0-1

Hammers started the second-half in determined mood, looking to defy the trio of injuries that had marred their first-half display. Christian Dailly went close with a header not long after the re-start, before Carroll was forced into a smart save at his near post by Matthew Taylor's shot.

Twsiting and turning on the edge of the box Lua Lua then let fly with a stinging drive that Carroll watched all the way and gathered at the second attempt.

With Hammers showing much more energy in the second period Marlon Harewood was desperately unlucky not to equalise when he brought down a high ball 20 yards out and unleashed a stinging low half-volley that had Ashdown well beaten but came back off the inside of the post.

Just a minute later and Alan Pardew's men would not be denied though, James Collins scoring his first goal for the Hammers to make it 1-1. West Ham won a free-kick down by the left touchline, which was whipped in by Matty Etherington.

Anton Ferdinand rose to knock the ball down at the back post to central defensive partner Collins and he fired low past Ashdown into the bottom right-hand corner to level the scores.

Moments later and Shaun Newton should have given Hammers the lead, but after a slip from a Pompey defender he blazed high and wide on the angle with just Ashdown to beat.

The jinking skills of Lua Lua remained a threat to Hammers though and the Pompey striker twice tested Carroll with good efforts as the home side looked to re-establish their advantage.

Hammers were not settling for a point either though, underlined by a flowing move ten minutes from time that ended up with Dailly drilling a shot just over the bar from the edge of the area.

Matty Etherington then went close from a free-kick 25 yards out, which floated just over, before Newton burst through the Pompey defence only to be foiled by a brave save from Jamie Ashdown at his feet.

Both teams never gave up fighting, but for Laurent Robert his determination landed him with a red card on 85 minutes when he scythed down Paul Konchesky and earned a well-deserved second yellow card.

Down to 10 men it was West Ham's turn to go on the attack, and a wonderful turn and flighted shot from Harewood very nearly caught Ashdown napping, but the young goalkeeper made a safe catch.

Dailly came so close to snatching a winner for West Ham in stoppage time when he met Etherington's corner with a bullet header that flew just wide of the post.

But at the final whistle Hammers could celebrate a hard-earned point on the South Coast. Honours finished even between Alan Pardew and former Hammers boss Harry Redknapp, but after losing three players to injury in the first-half Hammers did excellently to walk away from this game with a 1-1 draw.