Saturday, 25th February 2017
Slaven Bilic's side were the better of the two teams overall but still had to rely on a late Andre Ayew equaliser to earn a point from a well-fought, yet far from memorable Premier League encounter.
That's because the Hammers found themselves a goal behind within three minutes as Watford - through captain Troy Deeney - took an early advantage from the penalty spot, after makeshift right-back Cheikhou Kouyate was adjudged to have unfairly impended former Iron Mauro Zarate.
That Zarate appeared to have orchestrated the challenge by charging into Kouyate from his blind side went unnoticed - or was ignored - by referee Craig Pawson, making just the first of several key decisions in the home side's favour.
As the game progressed West Ham were to find themselves frustrated on several more occasions by Pawson; Kouyate, Aaron Cresswell and Michail Antonio all saw equally viable penalty claims ignored - the latter a victim of his own honesty, having been clearly shoved off-balance as he lined up to strike.
And in the end Bilic's battlers had to rely on a brilliantly-crafted and swiftly executed counter attack to earn a point; fashioned by Manuel Lanzini, forced into enemy territory by the electric Antonio and finished by an alert (substitute) Ayew, who pounced after the #30's shot had rebounded off both posts.
The Hammers may well have gone on to win the game in the closing stages had (the otherwise excellent) Antonio not picked up a second yellow card four minutes from full time, which crucially rules him out of United's next Premier League fixture with Chelsea.
And whilst there will be a certain degree of frustration and dissatisfaction in the Hammers camp that they were unable to record a win, on a day in which both Everton and West Bromwich Albion won to extend the gap above, it was overall a respectable point - if not a game that will love long in the memory.
West Ham Utd: Randolph, Kouyate, Fonte, Reid, Cresswell, Obiang, Noble, Feghouli, Lanzini (Fernandes 90+1), Snodgrass (Ayew 65), Antonio.
Subs not used: Adrian, Byram, Masuaku, Collins, Calleri.
Goals: Ayew (73).
Booked: Antonio, Kouyate.
Sent Off: Antonio (86).
Watford: Gomes, Janmaat (Cathcart 52), Kaboul, Britos, Holebas, Cleverley, Behrami, Capoue; Zarate (Doucoure 45), Deeney, Niang.
Subs not used: Arlauskis, Prodl, Success, Zuniga, Okaka.
Goals: Deeney (3 pen).
Booked: Janmaat, Cleverley, Holebas.
Referee: Craig Pawson
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Little he could do about the first but almost embarrassed by Rondon from distance after being caught off his line and then totally misread the corner from which Evans equalised.
Nutt-sed for the opening goal but rallied thereafter. Not a right back however and neevr will be.
Hasn't been himself for a number of weeks. A shadow of the player he seemed prior to the England call-up.
Gave his all, came up short against a very good side.
If you search for 'baptism of fire' on the web, don't be surprised to find a reference to Fonte's debut.
All over the shop tonight. Hopefullt just a blip following some very decent showings of late.
The one player likely to light up the OS on an otherwise dull and dreary night.
Anonymous, spent much of the night chasing shadows.
Huffed and puffed and threw himself around with wild abandon as per, but came up against not only a very good opponent but one of those referees who has no time for physical forwards (see Carlton Cole).
Bar one chance in the first half, he was invisible.
His night was summed up by the one chance he had to deliver a probing cross - which he shinned straight out for a goal kick instead. Woeful, offered nothing.
(Replaced Feghouli) Tasked with rescuing a sunken ship.
(Replaced Obiang) The scond debutant of the evening, Snodgrass gave glimpses of what he could potentially offer.
(Replaced Carroll) Tasked with rescuing a sunken ship.
Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Craig Pawson.
Man of the Match: Manuel Lanzini.
West Ham United
Darren Randolph, Cheikhou Kouyate, Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, Jose Fonte, Pedro Obiang, Michail Antonio, Mark Noble, Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini, Sofiane Feghouli.
Goals: Andre Ayew 73 .
Booked: Pedro Obiang .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Subs not used: Myhill, Olsson, M Wilson, McClean.
Goals: Chadli (5), Evans (90+5).
Booked: Rondon, Brunt.
Sent Off: None sent off..