New head coach Tony Pulis is already having an effect at West Brom, reckons caretaker boss Rob Kelly.
A first goal in 12 Premier League appearances from the recalled Saido Berahino cancelled out Diafra Sakho’s opener for the Hammers — who are now without a win in three.
Former Stoke and Crystal Palace manager Pulis was announced as Alan Irvine’s replacement on Thursday and was in the crowd at Upton Park, although he was in east London for more than a simple watching brief.
Kelly confirmed the Welshman had met the players ahead of the game, as well as talking in the dressing room at half-time and full-time, with his assistant David Kemp joining the caretaker team in the dug-out for the second half.
But Kelly also praised the outgoing Irvine for formulating the plan that saw them secure a point to keep themselves out of the relegation zone.
“I’m sure it had an effect,” Kelly said of Pulis’s appearance at the game.
“He introduced himself this morning to the players, popped in at half-time and said one or two things and came in at the end of the game.
“He let myself, Keith and Dean get on with the organisation and preparation but anyone who knows Alan (Irvine) knows how planned he is. We had spoken about the group of games as a whole and had gone through it with Alan and done most of the work there with the team we were thinking of playing. Tony and David Kemp let us get on with it. He came up with one or two suggestions and that was it. It was brief.”
West Brom made a positive start, as midfielder Stephane Sessegnon caused some problems with his driving runs.
On eight minutes, West Ham left-back Aaron Cresswell weaved his way into the penalty area, but could only shoot straight at Ben Foster.
The defender then had a hand in West Ham’s goal on 10 minutes after being released down the left by Stewart Downing. Cresswell clipped over a first-time cross, which Sakho headed into the far corner for a ninth goal of the season.
The Baggies were level on 42 minutes. Berahino found Sessegnon on the left, and he carried it to the edge of the West Ham penalty area, before squaring back to his team-mate, who dispatched a low shot to the bottom corner for a first goal since October.
Like so many managers and players over the festive period, Hammers boss Sam Allardyce was left bemoaning the fatigue caused by playing so many games in a small period of time.
“In terms of the players and where they are, it was a big effort,” he said.
“Our finishing quality was something that we wanted when we needed it but we couldn’t find it — but effort-wise it was tremendous.
“It would be nothing else other than a tired performance from both teams today. When you fatigue like the lads are going to do, more mistakes happen and that has to be accepted.”
WEST HAM: Adrian, Jenkinson, Collins, Reid, Cresswell, Song, Amalfitano (Jarvis 55), Kouyate, Downing, Carroll (Cole 84), Sakho (Valencia 72).
WEST BROM: Foster, Wisdom, McAuley, Lescott, Baird, Morrison, Mulumbu (Yacob 67), Dorrans (Varela 79), Sessegnon, Brunt, Berahino (Ideye 73).
Ref: Jon Moss.