Andy Carroll headed a priceless late equaliser to salvage a 2-2 draw for Newcastle at St James' Park as Joe Kinnear's men produced a hit-and-miss performance to just about keep the crisis talk at bay.
Carroll, 20 last Tuesday, could hardly have picked a better time to grab his first league goal with the storm clouds lurking after Craig Bellamy and Carlton Cole had cancelled out Michael Owen's early strike.
A single point is hardly what the home fans expected and with a number of top stars still linked with the exit door Kinnear can still expect a mighty relegation battle until the season's end.
But the sighs of relief were evident all around the stadium when Carroll, who had looked lively throughout, leaped highest to steer a deep left-wing cross from Damien Duff into the top of the net.
Despite another fractious build-up week the home side had started well and Carroll had the first chance in the second minute when Owen created space for him to drive a shot into the legs of Matthew Upson.
And the home side were closer in the eighth minute when Carroll glanced a right-wing cross from Damien Duff goalwards but James Collins headed clear despite appeals for a penalty.
Owen had a superb chance to put Newcastle in front in the 13th minute after being fed by Jonas Gutierrez on the right and cutting a low shot across goal which clipped the base of Robert Green's left-hand post on its way out.
But there early glimpses of the startling holes in the home defence with Bellamy seeing a 14th minute header bundled clear by Fabricio Coloccini after he had been left unmarked in the box.
But when Owen got his opener it was well deserved, the striker fed on the left by Luis Enrique and advancing to the edge of the box before hitting a low right-foot shot past Robert Green.
Newcastle should have gone further ahead in the 25th minute after a fine right-wing cross by Duff reached Carroll at the far post but the striker mis-timed his jump for a simple close-range header.
Then Bellamy came back to haunt his former club in the 29th minute when he nipped onto the end of a clever Scott Parker ball in the box before neatly lifting his shot over the advancing Given into the net.
Kinnear's men almost regained the lead in the 34th minute when Geremi's long-range free-kick clattered into Collins and rebounded into the path of Gutierrez, who lashed a powerful effort into the side-netting.
Then Carroll had a loud penalty appeal turned down in the 39th minute when he collapsed under the challenge of Collins in the box as the pair sought to deal with high ball into the box from Duff.
The Hammers should have gone in ahead at the break when Neill sent Mark Noble clean through in the 42nd minute but his shot was parried by Given and Bellamy's follow-up from a tight angle found the side-netting.
And the visitors were denied what appeared to be a blatant penalty moments after the restart when Sebastien Bassong used his arm to prevent Bellamy reaching a loose ball in the box.
Cole, anonymous in the first half, was coming more into the game and being afforded a ridiculous amount of space in the left channel, but the home side failed to heed a host of warnings.
And Cole duly lashed the Hammers into a deserved lead in the 55th minute when he controlled a long ball from Herita Ilunga in the left side of the box and screwed a superb left-foot shot into the top corner.
The busy Collins got in a fine saving challenge to deny Carroll a shot on goal just before the hour, then the apparently wantaway N'Zogbia was roundly booed when he was introduced in place of Geremi.
Neill's blushes were spared in the 67th minute when he mis-kicked the ball into his own net from a Fabricio Coloccini cross only for referee Alan Wiley to blow up for a push by Taylor on Collins.
But the home side clinched their equaliser in the 78th minute when Carroll jumped highest to meet a high cross from the right by Duff and steered the ball past a helpless Green.
West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola declared himself "very confident'' of hanging on
to his star players in the transfer window despite another week in which the
likes of Craig Bellamy and Scott Parker have been linked with moves elsewhere.
Zola sought to bring an end to speculation that he will be off-loaded as
part of a rumoured Hammers fire sale.
Zola said: "I am very confident because this club is determined to improve and
it's not true we want to sell our best players. The way we are playing and
training this club deserves to be in a better position.
"Being a footballer I know it's not easy when you have so many words around
you to concentrate and perform, but they are outstanding and I would say their
performances have gone even higher in this period.''
And Zola reserved special praise for the performance of Bellamy who returned to
his former club and ignored the boos of the home fans to net the Hammers' opener
in the first half.
Zola added: "If you see the way Craig moves about the pitch it is fantastic.
He is an exemplary professional and he has performed very, very well - not only
him but everybody.
"Considering the way we played I am a bit disappointed we didn't win the game
but we were playing against a very good team. But I think my team deserved a
little bit more than that.''
Newcastle assistant boss Chris Hughton praised Shay Given's contribution to his
side's late draw and revealed there had been no new developments regarding his
goalkeeper's future at the club.
Hughton said: "All we've seen of Shay is him coming in and training and
conducting himself like he always has. As far as I know there has been no
And Hughton went on to reiterate his club's desire to strengthen their
injury-hit squad before the end of the transfer window with a handful of top
players required to extinguish the threat of relegation.
Hughton added: "We're working hard behind the scenes and we do realise we need
to bring in two or three new players. We're hopeful that by the end of the
transfer window we'll be able to bring them in.''
Hughton professed himself reasonably happy with his side's point but admitted
before the game he had had only a win in mind against the Hammers.
Hughton added: "You always want to claim three points at home but in the
period when we were 2-1 down they were always a threat up front and at that
point you'd probably have settled for a draw.''
Meanwhile Hughton picked out Andy Carroll for his late equaliser in only his
second start for the club, adding: "Andy's made a very telling contribution in
the two games he's played and I was very pleased he got the goal.''