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Football: MOYES BOYS FIZZLE OUT; Everton 0 West Ham 0: Hammers are party poopers.

Byline: Alan NIXON

David Moyes' anniversary celebrations tasted like flat champagne as West Ham took the fizz out of their bubbles.

It's been a quick and eventful year in charge for the Merseyside Moyesiah but yesterday was a long and frustrating 90 minutes to endure.

Glenn Roeder would still swap places but for the length of this game there was not much to choose between the sides.

Hammers have found a steely resolve, possibly too late, and they exposed the fact that Everton still have work to do.

Moyes' caution about the job ahead is correct. He knows his side's shortcomings and the crowd saw for themselves.

A lack of subtlety, creativity and width has been masked by their organisation but was exposed by a West Ham team that dug in with surprising ease.

Even Wayne Rooney, given a longer run than of late, was unable to pull off a comic-book ending. This was, above all, a refresher course in reality.

In Everton's march on the Champions League this was the easiest of the remaining fixtures - and they meant business in a bright start. But it soon faded.

Tomasz Radzinski flashed a header at a Thomas Gravesen cross to make David James save and their build-up was crisp and confident.

But the recent revival of the Hammers has given them a new spring in their step.

However, they always had one eye out for the pace of Radzinski who soon had David James tearing out of his goal to stop him.

The Canadian's emergence this season is a surprise in more ways than one. A year ago, when Moyes first came, he was odds-on to be among the early departures.

Just how important he has become was heard when the crowd groaned as much as he did when an Ian Pearce clearance caught him amidships.

There were also grumbles as West Ham showed they had more passing quality in midfield, with some of Everton's engine room struggling to fire.

Joe Cole was neat and organised without carrying a threat and a lot of the action was concentrated away from the excitement zones.

Les Ferdinand wasted a half-chance when he lobbed over from outside the box but it was the rarest of openings.

The Everton stand-outs were at the back where David Weir was immaculate and Alan Stubbs a noble ally.

Ref Mark Halsey did not help the flow with some fussy decisions but he booked Gravesen for kicking Michael Carrick up the backside - an action the whole game needed at that stage.

Radzinski tried to liven it up when he took a David Unsworth ball and made for the box but he was predictable and even Tomas Repka could read his run.

It was sleepy stuff and West Ham seemed content with a point from a long way out, taking an age to restart the game whenever they had an excuse.

Stubbs almost handed them the lead at the start of the second half when he lunged at a Glen Johnson cross and gave Richard Wright his first fright as the ball spun just wide.

Then Trevor Sinclair was the nearly man as he latched on to a Ferdinand knock-down and made Wright turn away his stinging shot.

But the real activity was on the bench where Moyes brought on three subs at once in the 55th minute - as major a running repair as he has carried out in charge.

Just the sight of Rooney sent a surge through the ground and the side had a new positive look just when they needed it most.

Kevin Campbell set up Radzinski for a shot that James parried away and Rooney just failed to turn in despite two lusty swings. Game on. Tony Hibbert was caught up in the emotion too much and laid out Cole with a chest-high tackle that earned him a yellow card.

Rooney raced down the left and crossed brilliantly, making Rufus Brevett panic and head towards his own net.

Then Watson beat Brevett magnificently with a piece of sheer skill but then screwed his effort wide.

Radzinski teed up Li Tie for a lash from the edge of the box that confirmed why he has yet to score for his new club. West Ham were under pressure - and it showed.

Their only relief came when Cole robbed Gravesen and played in Carrick for a shot that was equally useless.

The closest yet came from Stubbs's heroic diving header from Hibbert's excellent cross but it was inches from being the glorious goal it deserved to be.

However, the calm assurance Moyes has brought to the ranks kept them going for one final push.

Afterwards, Moyes said: "It was a disappointing game. I would not have enjoyed coming to watch that. West Ham defended well and deserve credit for getting a point.

"We didn't pass the way we can do but we got a point. We didn't get enough from the flair players to get us the win."

Hammers may be depressed by Bolton's win, but this was an encouraging day for them. Their fate may be out of their hands, but at least their grip is a bit steadier than it was.

Relieved Roeder said: "I was pleased with the whole performance. We totally deserved the point. I've not stopped telling the players we can do it and they have more self-belief now.

"We started to defend better about four games ago. Not just the defence, but the midfield were gritty and the front two worked so hard."


NO GO: Tomasz Radzinski hits a dead end; Pictures: GETTY IMAGES; PRESSURE POINT: Everton boss David Moyes feels the heat
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Mar 16, 2003
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