13/04/2013: Saints 1-1 West Ham

Saints' winning run came to an end, with a 1-1 draw against fellow mid-table outfit West Ham. The home side probably just about edged it on the balance of play, but there wasn't too much in it, with both team's cancelling each other out.

Saints had more of the ball during the first half, with West Ham taking a predictably direct approach to the game. The Hammers were happy to sit back and soak up the play. Sam Allardyce's men were very organised in defence, but didn't offer a lot of creativity at other end, despite their best efforts to get the ball forward as quickly as possible. Saints still managed to ping it about fairly well, but clear cut chances were scarce. Adam Lallana nearly broke through early on, following good play from Gaston Ramirez and Steven Davis, only to be blocked off at the last moment. The home side were on top, no thanks to referee Mike Dean, who had a very poor game. He correctly booked Morgan Schneiderlin for a dive early on, but then allowed some of West Ham's physical play to go unpunished. Saints had a couple of half decent opportunities before half-time. Jussi Jaaskelainen was forced into a very good save when Rickie Lambert poked Ramirez's free-kick goal-bound. Lambert was involved again in stoppage time, heading Jack Cork's cross agonisingly wide. Saints also had a series of corners which came to nothing.

The second half took a while to really get going. West Ham started to come into it a bit more. The wet surface made it difficult for both teams to get any rhythm going, with a number of players falling over and committing basic errors. Saints kept plugging away and eventually found their reward on 59 minutes. Ramirez set himself up for a shot outside the area, with two Hammers players simultaneously attempting to block the attempt. The Uruguayan escaped their attentions however, making room for himself before coolly finishing into the top corner. After Saints fans had mocked West Ham's playing style throughout the game, it was somewhat ironic that the goal came from a long punt upfield by Artur Boruc. The away side responded really well, and were level only six minutes later. Andy Carroll blasted his free-kick through Davis' legs and past Boruc, who seemed to be caught slightly wrong footed. On first viewing the decision to give the aforementioned set-piece for Jos Hooiveld's supposed foul on Mohammed Diame seemed a bit harsh. The game was fairly evenly matched from that point. Carroll took advantage of a number of slip ups in the Saints defence before testing Boruc. Saints had plenty of the ball in the final third, but couldn't quite find that killer pass. Jay Rodriguez brought new life to the game, testing Jaaskelainen from distance. It was a similar effort to the one which led to the goal against QPR in March, only this time Puncheon was offside when latching on to the rebound.

Not really one that will live long in the memory. Saints performed fairly well, although not quite to the level we have come to expect recently. The game was evenly matched tactically, so a draw will probably be seen as a satisfying result for both sides. If we hadn't already got enough points on the board the reaction might have been slightly different, but the draw should near enough ensure Premier League survival, if it wasn't guaranteed already. West Ham did their best to stifle their opponents, but Saints stuck to their way of playing and it worked to an extent. Both sides defended well throughout. Mauricio Pochettino will no doubt be very frustrated with the goal conceded, because the Hammers never really looked like scoring from open-play.

Attendance: 31,984 (2,470 West Ham fans)

Match Ratings:

Boruc: 6. Had a role in the opener, but could have probably done better with the goal he conceded

Clyne: 8. Barely put a foot wrong. Timed every tackle to perfection. A class act

Yoshida: 7. Made light work of everything really.

Hooiveld: 7. One slip up could have let Carroll in, but otherwise fairly comfortable. Never looked fazed, even when put under real pressure

Fox: 7. A much better performance than many would have expected. Made some good forward runs, and defensively sound

Cork: 8. Had the better of physically stronger opponents. Used his footballing brain to work his way out of tight situations

Schneiderlin: 7. Silly booking early on, but otherwise pretty solid

Ramirez: 7. Poor set piece delivery at times, but general play very good. Created a few openings before scoring, and also tracked back and defended well.

Lallana: 7. Very bright in the early going, looked the most likely to make something happen in the first half

Davis: 8. Grew stronger as the game wore on. A dependable figure at both ends of the pitch

Lambert: 7. Movement and touch excellent. Only thing that was missing was a goal

Substitutes:

Rodriguez: 7. Very bright after coming on, gave the West Ham defence some real problems

Puncheon: Like Rodriguez made a decent impact, adding a bit more energy to the attack