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Match Report: West Ham 1-1 Middlesbrough (Boro Fan's Perspective)

Thursday 22nd March 2012
A late equaliser from Nigerian substitute Bart Ogbeche salvaged a point for Middlesbrough at Upton Park to keep their play-off hopes alive.

Boro made two changes to the side that lost at Birmingham at the weekend, with Richard Smallwood and Marvin Emnes starting in place of Julio Arca and Tony McMahon who dropped to the bench.

Before the game both sides observed a minute's applause for Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed whilst playing for Bolton at White Hart Lane in the FA Cup on Saturday.

The visitors set up to frustrate West Ham from the off in the knowledge that the hosts had drawn their four previous games in front of a home crowd.

The Hammers had the first couple of early chances but Matt Taylor's strike was blocked by Seb Hines and Nicky Maynard's long distance effort was held by Boro keeper Jason Steele.

Up the other end the Teessider's weren't faring much better, as Adam Hammill dragged one effort wide and Lukas Jutkiewicz headed over.

Shortly before half time the home side thought they should have had a penalty for handball, but replays showed that James Tomkins' header had in fact struck Matthew Bates' shoulder and referee Scott Mathieson was right not to award the spot-kick.

Carlton Cole's curling effort then went narrowly wide of Jason Steele's goal and the England Under-21 keeper then dealt well with a 30 yard shot from George McCartney.

After the break Nicky Maynard tried an audacious chip from 10 yards but his lofted effort dropped on the roof of the Boro net to the relief of Steele as the visitors continued to frustrate the home crowd.

West Ham's patience paid off however in the 67th minute in somewhat fortunate circumstances. A high cross from full-back McCartney found Abdoulaye Faye and the Senegalese international's header deflected off the unfortunate Joe Bennett and looped into the net.

Sam Allardyce's men nearly doubled their lead and killed off Boro, but Tomkins' powerful header was superbly pushed on to the bar by Steele.

The Boro stopper's impressive save seemed to motivate the visitors and they drew level in the 83rd minute in emphatic style. Former Nigerian international Ogbeche had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes when he picked the ball up on the Boro right, cut inside and lashed a fantastic strike into the bottom corner from 18 yards.

The visitors were suddenly on the front foot and nearly won it on two occasions in stoppage time. Lukas Jutkiewicz's strike from the edge of the area took a deflection and with Robert Green beaten went over via the bar. From the resulting corner the ball fell to Ogbeche and the lively striker's effort had to be scrambled off the line by McCartney to deny Boro the win.

The result takes Middlesbrough up to fifth, while West Ham remain in third trailing Reading and Southampton in the promotion race.
Matthew Nixon

Total articles: 28

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