Hammers held in see-saw draw

West Ham United 3-3 West Bromwich Albion
Barclays Premier League

West Ham United led twice and had to come from behind once as they played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with West Bromwich Albion at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday.

Both sides had control of a pulsating contest for periods and both would ultimately have felt unsatisfied with the conclusion.

Joe Cole fired the Hammers in front early on, but a quickfire Nicolas Anelka double just before the interval turned the contest on its head.

Modibo Maiga's introduction breathed new life into the home side's efforts and he scored one and set up another, for Kevin Nolan, as they enjoyed a fruitful two minute spell of their own midway through the second period.

But West Brom were not done yet, and Saido Berahino soon levelled to keep West Ham in the bottom three.

Joe Cole was making his 150th Premier League appearance and he helped the Hammers get off to the perfect start, slotting home by the near post after bursting on to Kevin Nolan's through ball and bearing down on goal.

If the Hammers were jubilant, their mood was checked on ten minutes when James Tomkins went down with a groin injury. With both James Collins and Winston Reid already out with injury problems of their own, Sam Allardyce was forced to field two makeshift centre-backs in the shape of George McCartney and Joey O'Brien.

Even with the re-shuffle, West Ham still went close to doubling their advantage on the half hour when Joe Cole dinked a cross to the far post, where Carlton Cole nodded back. Guy Demel collected the ball as it ran across him and tried to force goalwards, but hit the outside of the post with his effort.

West Brom had threatened to get in behind the new-look West Ham defence, but hadn't managed it until the 40th minute, when Anelka rolled back the years to bring his side level. Chris Brunt was the man to prod it through to the former French international, who timed his run to perfection and guided past the recalled Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Then, five minutes later, the Baggies left the Boleyn Ground crowd stunned when they won a corner down the left, which perhaps should have been a goal-kick, and Anelka reacted first to poke home after Carlton Cole blocked the initial effort on the line.

The swift turnaround seemed to have flattened the Hammers and Anelka went close to sealing his hat-trick two minutes after the restart when he got on the end of Billy Jones' pull back, but Jaaskelainen was well-placed to save at the near post.

West Ham introduced Maiga from the bench at the interval, and he sparked the second half revival with a left-footed bolt from the blue on 63 minutes that Ben Foster did well to tip over the bar.

Two minutes later however, the Baggies stopper could only watch as the ball flew past his right hand as Maiga this time got the better of him with a bouncing shot from inside the area.

West Ham now had the momentum and they cashed in with another goal just two minutes later. Maiga was again involved, rising highest to nod Mark Noble's stood-up cross back for Nolan to hook home for his second of the season.

Back came West Brom though, and a third goal in a crazy four-minute spell brought them level once more. It came from a finish of the highest quality from England U21 international Berahino, who squared up Guy Demel before shifting the ball on to his left foot and cracking a shot beyond Jaaskelainen and in via the far post.

Both sides pushed for a winner in a breathless conclusion to an entralling match, and the Baggies came closest to it when Berahino's free-kick rattled a post. The Hammers survived that scare to ensure they ended 2013 with a point.

West Ham United: Jaaskelainen; O'Brien, Tomkins (Demel 10), McCartney, Rat; Nolan, Noble, Diame; J.Cole (Collison 83), C.Cole (Maiga 46), Jarvis
Subs: Adrian, Taylor, Diarra, Chambers

Goals: J.Cole 4, Maiga 65, Nolan 67

Booked: C.Cole, Nolan, Diame

West Bromwich Albion: Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Lugano (Amalfitano 68), Ridgewell; Morrison (Yacob 78), Mulumbu, Brunt; Berahino (Sessegnon 85), Anelka
Subs: Myhill, Sinclair, Vydra, Dawson

Goals: Anelka 40, Anelka 45+1, Berahino 69

Booked: Mulumbu, Ridgewell

Referee: Mike Dean

Attendance: 34,946