Jussi Jaaskelainen pulled off a string of fine saves as West Ham United held Southampton to a goalless draw in miserable conditions at St Mary’s yesterday.
In a match devoid of many moments of class, the oldest man on the pitch proved crucial as Saints were denied a first home win of the season.
The 38-year-old was first called into action after 11 minutes, somehow keeping out a Dani Osvaldo effort when he looked destined to score with the best chance of a tepid first half in which Kevin Nolan had a goal ruled out for offside. Rickie Lambert hit the post moments after play resumed, with the England international, making his 200th Southampton appearance, then also denied by Jaaskelainen as Mauricio Pochettino’s side pushed for the opener.
The veteran Finn, supported impressively by James Collins and Winston Reid, was also at his best to stop Morgan Schneiderlin. West Ham, who gave a first Premier League start to Ravel Morrison, the highly-rated but unpredictable 20-year-old, were quickest to settle in miserable conditions on the south coast, with Artur Boruc forced into action after the wind sent a Matt Jarvis cross towards his goal. Saints, though, should have taken the lead with their first chance of the afternoon when Jay Rodriguez’s cute cutback from the byline found Osvaldo unmarked, but the Italian’s goalbound strike was impressively blocked by Jaaskelainen. West Ham’s Mohamed Diame saw an audacious long-range drive whistle just over before the Londoners thought they had gone ahead. Boruc spread himself well to stop Jarvis when through one-on-one but captain Nolan rifled home from outside the box, only for the offside flag to cut the Hammers’ celebrations short.
Lambert then nodded over and Morrison curled just wide from 25 yards, before referee Andre Marriner called time on a turgid first half. Former Celtic player Victor Wanyama, particularly poor in the first half, forced Jaaskelainen to tip over from distance shortly after the restart, with the opener almost coming from the resulting corner. Adam Lallana swung the ball in and Lambert’s powerful header rattled the post, followed by hopeful calls for a handball against the impressive Collins when Wanyama attempted to strike home the rebound.
Osvaldo then slipped through Lallana, only for Jaaskelainen to thwart him. Pochettino’s side continued in the ascendancy and Schneiderlin saw a threatening overhead kick headed away by Reid after Osvaldo had seen a shot blocked. Mark Noble and Wanyama were both booked for late challenges, with Joey O’Brien soon joining them for a tackle on Lallana that saw tempers fray and could have resulted in a red.
The challenge came after Jaaskelainen superbly turned a Schneiderlin volley around the post, with the veteran goalkeeper then brilliantly clawing away a curling Lambert effort.
Collins lashed over as West Ham pushed a for a late winner, with Wanyama firing the final chance wide.