An easing of the job situation till after Christmas allowed me to attend this floodlit game at Upton Park and, while it would be unfair to say I wished I'd saved my money, the end result was nonetheless extremely disappointing.
After Saturday's encouraging display, I think most fans expected three points from this fixture and we all looked at this week as the turning point of the campaign but, after this, I'm struggling to see anything other than a season-long struggle with little salvation at the end. I really fear for Saturday's home game against Blackpool.
While the Hammers were well worth a point, there were some depressing aspects to this game. West Brom retained possession for spells and finished the stronger - the four minutes injury time providing nothing for the home crowd barring a surfeit of Baggies' corners - while, once again, the equalising goal scored in the 70th minute was secured with an unmarked header. West Ham's approach play was good but there was no-one to put in the final ball and the lack of confidence was telling - too often the ball being played back or wide without penetration.
It was Odemwingie who put West Brom ahead on the night, scoring from the spot after Boa Morte was adjudged to have leant on Steven Reid. I understand the referee was vindicated in the TV replays but I must admit I didn't see the offence in a crowded goalmouth. The Hammers, led by an incensed Scott Parker protested the decision, but the ref was adamamt, showing a yellow card to Boa Morte. Green had no chance with the eventual penalty.
The crowd were deflated and it looked grim for a while until Scott Parker - who else? - came to the rescue with a stunning volley from 25 yards. The goal came just before the break, leading to several good chances after, with Boa Morte being particularly unlucky with a fine shot that Carson parried away well. The second half began as the first ended and the Hammers had a penalty of their own after 50 minutes when Piquionne scored after Dyer had been brought down when bursting through following a surging run.
The Irons were on top now and Piquionne again was unlucky when he struck inches wide following an excellent flowing move but, as seems to happen so often now, the Hammers conceded ground and possession and West Brom gradually came back into it. Substitute Simon Cox went close for the visitors as they pressed for an equaliser and the disgruntled home fans were starting to panic. Their fears were realised when a deep corner by Blunt was met well by an unmarked Inanez to equalize after 70 minutes and silence the Boleyn. The Baggies now looked the brighter, retaining possession and causing problems on the flanks and if the injury time board was supposed to provide a final push for the home side then we were particulary disappointed, the men in stripes looking for the winner.
There were a few boos at the end but the majority of fans simply left in silence. Most had looked at this match to act as a springboard but the only springing West Ham look capable of currently is a leap into an empty pool. Confidence is low, the players panic when the pressure is on while others are simply just not up to the task. Desperate is this week's word.