West Ham 0 Charlton 0
Teddy Sheringham’s 40th birthday party failed to go with a bang after stubborn Charlton ground out a goal-less draw at West Ham.
The former England striker, who played the second 45 minutes, was denied the Boys’ Own Story-style winner the home fans craved by a fine save late on by Addicks goalkeeper Thomas Myhre.
Otherwise he was hardly in the game as Alan Curbishley’s side demonstrated why they are the no-score draw specialists of the Premiership.
The two sides could meet again later in the month, in an FA Cup semi-final should Charlton overcome Middlesbrough in a replay brought on by yet another stalemate, but with a place in Europe at stake the entertainment content could have been higher.
West Ham had started as though they intended to trouble the scorers however and Dean Ashton fired an inviting chance over the bar from close range in the fourth minute, with Charlton having been exposed by a near-post flick-on of Yossi Benayoun’s long throw.
Strike partner Marlon Harewood, the other man keeping Sheringham on the bench, also looked keen and saw first a long-ranger deflected behind and then an effort from a more inviting position blocked by Chris Perry.
That early promise was a short-lived as the downpour that had preceded kick-off however and Charlton eventually began to get a grip on the game, although Luke Young’s 29th-minute challenge on Hayden Mullins was too strong for the liking of referee Rob Styles, who – having just issued a touchline ticking off to home boss Alan Pardew – booked the World Cup hopeful.
Paul Konchesky, the left-back who left Charlton in the summer to boost his own international chances, was getting forward as much as possible but it was the recalled Anton Ferdinand, in at right-back in place of Lionel Scaloni, who came closest to making a first-half breakthrough for the home side.
His first attempt was none too impressive – a long-range scoop over with his left – but when Harewood’s bustle set him up on the right of the box, a drive with the other boot fizzed just wide.
Sheringham was allowed to unwrap himself at half-time to replace Ashton and again the Hammers started the half strongly, with Benayoun stabbing the ball just wide after making a speedy arrival in the danger zone.
James Collins, the man who has replaced Ferdinand as Danny Gabbidon’s central defensive partner, fired just over from a free-kick move but he had been a long, long way out.
Shaka Hislop’s goal at the other end had rarely been threatened but the veteran could only parry when Darren Bent fired in a rasping drive.
Young was hurt conceding a corner and was eventually forced off just after the hour mark to be replaced by Jonathan Spector.
Another change was made by the visitors with 20 minutes remaining, with the recalled Dennis Rommedahl replaced by Jerome Thomas.
Benayoun fired a snapshot on the turn across goal and just wide before Matt Holland failed to hit the target from a more inviting position at the other end.
Pardew made another change with just under a quarter of an hour remaining and it was an attacking one, with striker Bobby Zamora replacing midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker in a switch which saw Harewood move to the right wing and Benayoun to the centre.
It almost paid off as the newcomer sent a header from a corner past Myhre only to see it cleared off the line by the perfectly-placed Radostin Kishishev.
Sheringham had been given mostly scraps despite a barrage of corners being forced by the Hammers, most by Matthew Etherington on the left.
But at last the chance he had been waiting for came his way – and he was unable to take it as Myhre made an impressive reflex stop to keep out a well-struck back-post connection from just five yards out.
It was that sort of game, that sort of day and not even ageing superstars could change it.