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James Morrison was twice denied by the woodwork but West Bromwich Albion failed to score for a third successive game as they were held to a goalless stalemate by West Ham United.
The Baggies at least had the consolation of ending a run of three successive defeats and maintained their place in the top six, while Sam Allardyce's side were worth a share of the spoils in a game which seldom moved out of second gear.
Morrison posed Albion's most creative threat despite operating in a deeper role in the absence of the injured Claudio Yacob, but the Hammers showed plenty of resilience with central defender James Collins a rock solid performer.
West Ham, wearing black armbands in tribute to long-serving club masseur Derrick Jones who died earlier this week, were only able to field six substitutes due to their current injury crisis after Mohamed Diame was ruled out with a hamstring injury and Albion made a promising start, but the first semblance of a chance fell to the visitors with Mark Noble heading a deep cross from Carlton Cole over the bar.
West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie was on target with a low 25-yard drive although Jussi Jaaskelainen got his body behind the ball, but there was little goalmouth action in the opening quarter of the game as both sides struggled to find a creative spark although Morrison ventured forward to fire a low shot past the post.
Shane Long created space for himself on the edge of the Hammers' box after turning past Noble but dragged his drive into the side-netting, and Chris Brunt drilled a long-range attempt into the hands of Jaaskelainen before Winston Reid spurned a gilt-edged chance for West Ham. Collins headed a Noble corner back into the danger area and Reid volleyed over the bar.
Carlton Cole stung the palms of Albion keeper Boaz Myhill with a 30-yard drive but it was Albion who started the second period on the offensive and Morrison's hooked volley struck the top of the bar. Then the Scottish international sliced his shot wide after Gareth McAuley had headed a fourth successive corner from Brunt into his path.
Reid got into another good position to attack an inswinging corner from Noble but could not keep down his near-post header and at the other end the defender produced a vital clearance to turn a low Odemwingie centre over his own bar under pressure from Long. But West Ham looked dangerous on the counter-attack and Joey O'Brien volleyed over at full stretch from a deep Noble free-kick.
Morrison then struck the bar for the second time with 17 minutes remaining with a header from Brunt's corner, while Cole nearly made the breakthrough in the final seconds when his snap shot had Myhill scrambling across his line to save at the foot of a post. Ultimately, however, a draw was a fair outcome.
West Brom manager Steve Clarke: "I thought a draw was just about the right result. We didn't quite do enough to get the three points. As the home team, the onus is on us to try and win it. We tried to win it but nothing really fell for us.
"We spoke before the game about defending well, to aim for the clean sheet, which we got, which is good, because we haven't had one for a while. That is one positive aspect. It does stop the run of defeats which is another positive aspect and it's another point towards the totals we are trying to achieve, but there are not many questions to ask on that game, are there?"
"Maybe it was my fault in the first half because we went 4-4-2 and it didn't quite click. But when we moved back to our normal system second half [4-2-3-1] we looked a little more lively."
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce: "It's been a while since we've had a clean sheet and we've had a habit of conceding the first goal in the first half, but we've cut that out today and tried to win it when we could, but it's a difficult place to come. [West Brom] are doing very well here this season so we're well satisfied. It was a real, good, solid, honest performance from the players today.
"January will be important to us because we want to continue from where we got to and push on from there if we can. We don't want to slip down the league, we don't want to lose matches, we want to win football matches whenever we can. To do that, we'll have to do a little bit in the window or certainly get our injured players fit.
"Hopefully, we won't have to suffer this kind of injury list again. We've coped well today but I'm not sure how well we will cope if it goes on much longer.
"You could probably say it's seven injuries because we haven't seen Alou Diarra since he joined us because he tore a thigh muscle. That, on top of the other six, made it very difficult for us to come here. That's why we only had six subs on the bench.
"The only two really recognised players who played any part, we put on at the end, Modibo Maiga and James Tomkins. The rest of the lads are development squad players. But we've earned our point today. You know when you've got that many injuries, you're always worried as a manager because you wonder whether you're team's going to be able or capable of holding out.
"Certainly on today's performance, the way they defended, we didn't create as much as we wanted today. We tried as hard as we could to do that but our defensive qualities today were exceptionally good."
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|12 Jan 2013||v Reading (A)|