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Everton 0 West Ham United 0

Filed: Saturday, 15th March 2003
By: Graeme Howlett

David James' second clean sheet in succession was enough to earn the Hammers a well deserved point at Goodison Park this afternoon - although other results ensured it was a day of mixed fortune for Glenn Roeder's men ...

Whilst the Hammers earned a creditable point on Merseyside against a resurgent Everton fellow relegation candidates Bolton pulled off a 2-0 win at Sunderland - themselves virtually dead and buried - to keep Sam Allardyce's side two points above West Ham in the fight for Premiership survival.

The point - earned in a game that was hardly an exciting spectacle - means that the Hammers have now taken 10 from their last 18; a sure sign that the corner has been turned and that the embattled Roeder may have finally stumbled upon the formula which could yet preserve the Hammers' Premiership status.

Chances for both sides were few and far between in an game that could barely be described as 'entertaining'. Jermain Defoe toiled up front for scant reward; strike partner Les Ferdinand was called into action more often in his own half of the field.

The home also struggled to find the kind of form which has taken them into the Champions League places; David James was rarely called upon to save the day.

Glenn Roeder, speaking after the game told reporters:

"I was pleased with the whole performance, it was a thoroughly deserved point. We tried to be active at the other end but teams have found it difficult to do that at Everton this season.

"It was a good performance but that started a few games ago. We needed to do that and now we will carry on that way for the rest of the season.

"You can see there's more confidence in the dressing room, it's a happy place. This was a difficult game for us and it's a good point."

He added: "Every single game is now so important, we have a huge game next week against Sunderland but we are looking forward to it now."

And his message for the likes of Bolton and Birmingham - with whom the Hammers are battling for Premiership survival - was unequivocal.

"I've never stopped believing that we can stay up - and neither have the players.

"Now we have the self belief. The performances have arrived and it's that which is giving the players their belief now."

It has long been said that a low total of something around 36 points could be enough to stave off relegation this season. However recent results dictate that the safety margin is likely to be closer to 40 points - such a scenario would see the likes of Birmingham, Leeds and Aston Villa included in the final equation.

But for Roeder's men they simply have to keep on what they have been doing - and hope that someone else comes unstuck between now and May.

West Ham United: James, Johnson, Repka, Pearce, Brevett, Sinclair, Lomas, Carrick, Cole (Cisse 86), Les Ferdinand (Dailly 83), Defoe.

Subs not used: Van Der Gouw, Breen, Moncur.

Everton: Wright, Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth, Watson, Gemmill (Li Tie 55), Gravesen, Naysmith (Campbell 55), Radzinski, McBride (Rooney 55).

Subs not used: Yobo, Gerrard.

Booked: Gravesen, Hibbert.

Attendance: 40,158.

Referee: Mike Halsey

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