West Ham United and Newcastle United battled to a 0-0 draw at Upton Park Saturday, giving Newcastle a vital point in their efforts to stave off relegation. The optimists will point out that drawing with an in-form team is not a bad result, but pessimists will counter by saying the match was there for the taking and Newcastle looked mostly disinterested in the second half.
The second half was indeed a nervy one for the Toon, as West Ham appeared to be the team with ambition. Rob Elliot bailed his teammates out on a couple of occasions, and Newcastle were lucky for once that one of those "pinball around in the six yard box" balls didn't find the back of the net. The Magpies did have their chances, though. Yoan Gouffran caught Jussi Jaaskelainen out of his net in the second half, but the angle was too extreme for him to finish. The other was a Papiss Cisse chip that may or may not have gone completely over the line. Replays eventually seemed to show that it was a good goal, but even those were inconclusive. It's hard to blame the linesman for not giving the goal, but it's still disappointing. If only goal line technology had been implemented in a more timely fashion (the Premier League will have it next year), we might be talking about a 1-0 victory.
That's story enough, but of course the tie is overshadowed by some dodgy substitutions made by the manager. Alan Pardew was probably always going to bring Hatem Ben Arfa off around the 60 minute mark, but swapping the creativity that was absolutely befuddling the West Ham defense for Shola Ameobi's brute force proved to be predictably ineffective. That Dan Gosling was the other substitute is absolutely mind-boggling, especially since Vurnon Anita was apparently available. It's more ammunition for the #PardewOut crowd, especially since both Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic won today.