West Ham 1 Doncaster 1: Complacent Hammers lose ground after Coppinger strike

West Ham 1 Doncaster 1: Complacent Hammers lose ground after Coppinger strike

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UPDATED:

17:12 GMT, 10 March 2012

West Ham lost ground at the top of the Championship as they were held to a 1-1 draw by a battling Doncaster outfit.

Kevin Nolan's ninth goal of the season capped a dominant start for the hosts but they took their foot off the gas and were punished when James Coppinger levelled in the 73rd minute.

The hosts looked to have got off to a flying start when Ricardo Vaz Te had the ball in the net inside the opening minute but the Portuguese was penalised for a foul on Pascal Chimbonda.

Celebration time: James Coppinger hit a priceless equaliser for Doncaster

Celebration time: James Coppinger hit a priceless equaliser for Doncaster

Match facts

West Ham: Green, McCartney, Faye, Tomkins, Taylor, Noble, Lansbury (O'Neil 57), Nolan (Collins 80), Collison, Cole, Vaz Te (Baldock 25). Subs not used: Maynard, Morrison.

Scorer: Nolan 9.

Doncaster: Ikeme, Chimbonda, Martis (Hird 75), Beye, Spurr, Bennett, Barnes, Gillett, Coppinger, Diouf, Bagayoko (Oster 60). Subs not used: Hayter, Robert, Ilunga.

Scorer: Coppinger 73.

Referee: Andy D'Urso.

It took just another two minutes
before the Hammers threatened again as Carlton Cole collected a pass
from Jack Collison and rifled a 20-yard effort against the crossbar.

The inevitable breakthrough came
after nine minutes as Nolan stabbed in from close range after Rovers
failed to clear their lines following Henri Lansbury's shot.

Dean Saunders' men briefly relieved
the pressure when El-Hadji Diouf broke away down the right but his
threatening cross was plucked out of the air by Rob Green just as
Mamadou Bagayoko was closing in.

Sam Allardyce was forced to make a
change midway through the opening half when Vaz Te went down clutching
his hamstring. He was replaced by Sam Baldock.

With the home side beginning to lose
some of their impetus, Doncaster sensed an opportunity to get a foothold
in the game and Coppinger's powerful strike, which Green had to palm
around the post, underlined their increasing threat.

They continued to grow into the game
after the interval, with Diouf providing their most promising outlet.
The Senegalese whipped in a free-kick which Giles Barnes nodded narrowly
wide.

Off the mark: Kevin Nolan prods home

Off the mark: Kevin Nolan prods home

The Hammers sought to reassert their
authority with a prolonged spell of pressure but Rovers pressed the ball
well, restricting the space the hosts had to work in.

When Doncaster won it back they
caused panic in the penalty area as Coppinger's cross was left by Green
before James Tomkins eventually took charge of the situation to clear to
safety.

But with 17 minutes to go the
visitors deservedly drew level as Simon Gillett kept the ball alive in
the box and Coppinger capitalised to steer it in from close range.

Upton Park held its breath when
Coppinger delivered for Diouf with five minutes to play but he could not
make clean contact with his shot and Green turned the ball away for a
corner.

The draw extends West Ham's unbeaten
run to seven matches but Southampton's victory over Barnsley means they
are three points behind in the race for the title.

Doncaster, meanwhile, are still fighting for survival after taking six points from their last four games.