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 Saturday, 21 December, 2002, 16:51 GMT
Ricketts denies Hammers
A defender appeals for offside against Ricketts
West Ham 1-1 Bolton Wanderers

A controversial Michael Ricketts equaliser earned Bolton a point against West Ham at Upton Park.

The draw leaves the Hammers unenviably bottom of the top flight going into Christmas Day.

And no team in that position has managed to avoid relegation since the Premiership began 10 years ago.

Key moments
17 mins: Pearce puts the Hammers ahead
26: Pedersen's effort hits the West Ham post
65: Ricketts grabs Bolton's equaliser

Makeshift striker Ian Pearce had put the Hammers ahead but substitute Ricketts levelled matters from a seemingly offside position.

A six-pointer, the importance of the game had seen it start in inevitably cagey fashion and the first chance on goal came when striker Jermain Defoe failed to find the target with a header.

West Ham looked determined to rectify their poor record at Upton Park this season, where their last win ironically came against Bolton on the final day of last season.

Bolton boss Sam Allardyce said this was a "no lose" game before kick-off and his team seemed content to strangle West Ham in search of at least a point.

I am concerned that officials cannot do their job

Glenn Roeder

But that plan had to be changed after 17 minutes when Pearce powered in a shot.

A flick on by Defoe gave Pearce a sight of goal and he side-stepped Gudni Bergsson before scoring from 12 yards.

The visitors almost bounced back eight minutes later when Henrik Pedersen's shot struck the inside of the post before being cleared.

Per Frandsen's well-worked and sweetly struck free-kick almost deceived West Ham keeper David James but the England international did well to save the Bolton midfielder's effort.

West Ham's Nigel Winterburn and Bolton's Henrik Pedersen
Winterburn and Pedersen fight for supremacy

Jay-Jay Okocha's shot was deflected wide as Bolton mustered some pressure on the home goal while West Ham squandered some promising situations to get a second goal.

Allardyce brought on Ricketts for Youri Djorkaeff shortly after the interval with an equaliser looking unlikely for the goal-shy Trotters.

And the move proved a master-stroke as Ricketts equalised.

He controlled the ball on his chest on the edge of the West Ham area and played a one-two with Okocha before an excellent finish drew Bolton level.

People are telling me our goal was half a yard offside but it is about time something went in our favour

Sam Allardyce

West Ham will argue Ricketts was offside but they paid the price for not making the most of their possession by extending their lead.

The Upton Park outfit pressed for a winner but Defoe's finishing let him down, Joe Cole was denied a penalty while Trevor Sinclair missed a late chance with a header from six yards.


West Ham: James, Schemmel, Repka, Dailly, Winterburn, Sinclair, Lomas, Carrick, Cole, Defoe, Pearce (Hutchison 80).
Subs Not Used: Bywater, Breen, Moncur, Johnson.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Barness, Bergsson, N'Gotty (Whitlow 46), Charlton, Nolan, Frandsen, Okocha, Gardner, Djorkaeff (Ricketts 55), Pedersen.
Subs Not Used: Poole, Facey, Tofting.

Booked: Whitlow.

Attendance: 34,892

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Five Live's Bob Ballard
"West Ham were prepared to sit on their lead"
 West Ham boss Glenn Roeder
"Their goal was dubious to say the least"
 Bolton boss Sam Allardyce
"The draw makes a huge diference for us"
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