BAGGIES BOUNCING: Gareth McAuley celebrates his last-gasp equaliser
THERE WERE 94 minutes on the clock when Gareth McAuley rescued a point for West Brom in a contest they led for almost an hour.
It was the final act of an eventful game on a chilly afternoon in east London where the visitors took an early lead before West Ham struck back with two goals of their own.
There had been talk before the match that both sides, safely ensconced in mid-table and with little to play for, would play out an unremarkable contest. In the event, they combined to produce the joint-highest-scoring Premier League match of the day.
As the fourth official signalled five minutes of second half stoppage time and Ben Foster went forward for that final corner, it seemed that West Brom manager Tony Pulis was going to pay for the second half caution that saw him hook Nacer Chadli in favour of Jonny Evans at 1-0.
It was Chadli who grabbed that 6th minute lead with a measured finish. The visitors won the ball in midfield and James Morrison shifted the ball to the Belgian, who nutmegged Cheikhou Kouyate on the turn before advancing and doing the same to Darren Randolph from an angle.
Twitter was quick to point out that this was the third match in the row that West Brom had opened the scoring in the 6th minute. While the Baggies had been able to resist Stoke during their last outing, here they were to be pegged back juts as they were when they faced Middlesbrough in the first match of this mini sequence.
Soufiane Feghouli thought he had equalised 11 minutes later but his effort was ruled out for an offside. The Algerian's moment would come.
West Ham, who initially struggled without Andy Carroll, who was absent with a groin injury, failed a muster a single shot on target in the first half but Slaven Bilic switched to three at the back after the break and introduced Jonathan Calleri in place of the injured Aaron Cresswell. The move revitalised the east Londoners, who began to get forward in numbers. Feghouli, Manuel Lanzini, and Calleri began to influence proceedings as the retreating West Brom became increasingly desperate in their defending.
The West Ham equaliser eventually came when Foster tipped Lanzini's goalbound long ranger onto the crossbar and Feghouli reacted quickest to prod home the rebound.
Pulis then replaced Morrison with the defensive Claudio Yacob as he sought to limit the damage amid West Ham's growing pressure, which finally told when Lanzini latched on to Feghouli's pass, stepped inside Yacob, and made the space to unleash a left-footed shot past the unsighted Foster.
That goal came with 86 minutes on the clock but it was not to be the winner.
West Brom had been a sporadic threat on the break and they sensed there was still something for them in this match. They were further stirred when the fourth official indicated those further five minutes.
Chris Brunt's delivery into the crowded West Ham penalty area was as impressive as substitute Jonny Evans' header was unerring, but it took the final touch from McAuley to seal West Brom's comeback.