West Ham have to settle for a point as Blades cut down their lead
PUBLISHED: 17:07 26 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:07 26 October 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers are pegged back after Robert Snodgrass opener
West Ham United 1 Sheffield United 1
It is now four games without a win for the Hammers, who had only themselves to blame for not carving up the Blades and claiming all three points on this soggy Saturday in Stratford.
Recalled Robert Snodgrass put West Ham United ahead on the interval but, after squandering a trio of inviting chances early in the second-half, Manuel Pellegrini's men were made to regret those expensive misses, when substitute Lys Mousset equalised on 68 minutes to maintain Sheffield United's unbeaten away record.
The Hammers came into this match having suffered back-to-back losses at the hands of Crystal Palace and Everton and, following last Saturdays' dour, dismal defeat at Goodison Park, Pellegrini duly shuffled his pack, making five changes.
Snodgrass, Andriy Yarmolenko, Fabián Balbuena, Pablo Zabaleta and Aaron Cresswell each returned in place of Arthur Masuaku plus substitutes Manuel Lanzini, Pablo Fornals, Angelo Ogbonna and Ryan Fredericks for the first league meeting between the two clubs since the controversial 2006-07 campaign, when Carlos Tevez - subsequently adjudged to have been under illegal third-party ownership - orchestrated a final day Great Escape at the expense of the Blades.
Back then, the Hammers suffered the financial penalty - a multi-million pound out-of-court settlement to Sheffield United plus a hefty Premier League fine - but the Yorkshiremen also paid the price with relegation and a 12-season absence from the top-flight.
But now back in the big time, the Blades came into this game unbeaten their first four away games to date, level on a dozen points with the Hammers and, having beaten Arsenal at Bramall Lane five days earlier, Chris Wilder made just one change as Monday's match-winner, Mousset found himself on the bench, having been replaced by Callum Robinson, up front.
And although West Ham forced a trio of corners inside the opening ten minutes, with the rain tumbling from the autumn skies there was little early action goalmouth action to cheer for either set of supporters in the 59,978 crowd.
Midway through the half, however, Felipe Anderson sent a 25-yarder curling through the East End mist and inches over Dean Henderson's left-hand angle as the Hammers fans, sticking with the South American angle, continually taunted: 'There's only one Carlos Tevez.'
But Sheffield almost had the first laugh, when David McGoldrick - seconds after seeing Issa Diop booked for scything him down - back-heeled Jack O'Connell's flick-on straight at the relieved Roberto, who then saw John Lundstram's follow-up charged down, too.
After being fouled, once more, the lively McGoldrick then headed a free-kick into Roberto's clutches and, as the interval approached, O'Connell's low, left-wing cross was stroked inches wide by Lundstram.
The Blades were beginning to cut through the Hammers defence in a forceful first-half finale and, after the flying Roberto punched the ball off Robinson's scalp, Enda Stevens met the clearance with a shot that deflected inches wide.
A late first-half goal looked on the cards.
But few would have predicted that it would go the Hammers way.
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On 45 minutes, however, Yarmolenko intercepted Chris Basham's attempted headed clearance midway inside the Sheffield United half and, when the Ukrainian squared to the sprinting Snodgrass, the Scotsman advanced forward before sending a slide-rule 18-yarder beyond the helplessly exposed Henderson.
That first Snodgrass strike of the season certainly made the Hammers' half-time cup taste all that much sweeter, while the Yorkshire tea would have had a bitter twang for the visitors, wondering just how they were trailing at the break.
Just after the restart, George Baldock saw his scorching 15-yarder both parried by Roberto and blocked by Cresswell's lower regions and the brother of ex-Hammer Sam was then booked for decking Declan Rice.
With the Blades needing to cut loose in search of an equaliser, though, the breaking Hammers should have had the game sewn up by the hour-mark but they were guilty of some wasteful finishing and costly hesitancy as Sebastién Haller, Yarmolenko and Anderson were each guilty of squandering gilt-edged openings.
Lanzini replaced Anderson, while Billy Sharp and Mousset came on for Robinson and Ollie Norwood and, with the intensity rising, Balbuena was booked for juddering John Fleck, a split-second before Baldock ripped another angled effort towards the side-netting.
On 68 minutes, West Ham were left to rue their early second-half negligence in front of goal, when Diop's headed clearance looped to Stevens, who cleverly nodded the ball into the path of the falling Mousset who sent a low, angled 15-yard, half-volley spinning beyond the outstretched left glove of the diving Roberto.
In reply, Cresswell saw his 15-yarder cleared off the line before Rice's 18-yard screamer was beaten out by Henderson as the Hammers desperately tried to get back in front but, now level, the visitors - not so anxious to break forward in numbers - were not leaving enough space for the home play-makers.
Fornals replaced Noble for final quarter-hour and the Spanish substitute almost made an instant impact with a low, right-wing cross that was only a stud away from the stretching Yarmolenko, who the saw the sliding Snodgrass divert the ball onto the base of the left-hand upright but by now the damage had been done and West Ham had to settle for a disappoint draw.
HAMMERS: Roberto, Zabaleta, Cresswell, Balbuena, Diop, Noble (Fornals 77), Rice, Anderson (Lanzini 66), Snodgrass (Ajeti 86), Yarmolenko, Haller. Unused subs: Martin, Sánchez, Ogbonna, Fredericks.
BLADES: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O'Connell, Lundstram, Norwood (Mousset 63), Fleck, Baldock, Stevens, McGoldrick (Bešić 80), Robinson (Sharp 54). Unused subs: Moore, Freeman, McBurnie, Jagielka.
Booked: Diop (27), Baldock (62), Balbuena (62), Stevens (90+2).
Referee: David Coote