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Hammers hit back to stun Stoke
Monday, 03 November 2014
Stoke City 2–2 West Ham United
Spirited West Ham recovered from two goals behind to gain what had earlier seemed an unlikely point at Stoke City.
The Britannia Stadium is widely recognised as a difficult place to plunder Premier League points. Nevertheless, West Ham arrived in the Potteries in good shape after dispatching champions Manchester City at Upton Park seven days before.
Meanwhile, the Potters were mindful that a victory could catapult them into the top half of the table, within two points of the highflying East Londoners.
Indeed it was lively Stoke who were first to threaten. Hammers defender Winston Reid had to be alert after Jonathan Walters had surged down the right and centred, soon after Reid had to be on his toes again, this time thwarting Steven Nzonzi's low drive.
Stoke were looking the more likely to break the deadlock. Former Barcelona man Bojan's effort was snubbed out by some brave defending from James Collins after another lightning raid down the right.
And Stoke should have grabbed the lead when Mame Diouf was only inches away from converting Bojan's cross.
Stewart Downing should have done better, sending his effort high and wide after a neat interchange with Alex Song during a rare foray forward from the visitors during the first period.
But just after the half hour mark a goal duly arrived, and it was no surprise that the home side provided it. Victor Moses was quickest to react following a melee in the Hammers box and scrambled the ball over the line.
And as the half drew to a close it was the home side who continued to look the brighter. Moses surging run was brought to a conclusion by some desperate last ditch defending from Collins, while Bojan was only inches away with Hammers keeper Adrian fully extended.
West Ham were on the ropes, once again they had Spanish keeper Adrian to thank as he made a brilliant point blank stop as Moses looked set to double the Potters advantage.
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce brought Carlton Cole into the fray for the second period in an attempt to bolster the visitors attack, but it was Stoke who were first to show. The electrifying Bojan once again a thorn in West Ham's side, finding Adrian's midriff with a free-kick from distance.
And before the East Londoners could make any real headway their problems doubled. Jonathan Walters showed Aaron Cresswell a clean pair of heals before delivering for Mame Diouf to head beyond Adrian.
But West Ham weren't going down without a fight, and they clawed their way back into the match, albeit in controversial circumstances. Song was high and late on Diouf but referee Chris Foy allowed play to continue, much to the anguish of all connected with the Potteries club. Downing raced away down the right, crossing for the headlong Valencia who beat Begovic and halved the home side's advantage.
The game continued to ebb and flow. Nzonzi had Adrian at full stretch and Diouf headed just over as Stoke went in search of a decisive goal.
But the tide had begun to turn, West Ham had started to attack with greater intent, and with twenty minutes remaining, Downing crisply met a pinpoint ball in from Valencia to restore parity.
Man of the match Bojan tried to lift Stoke’s spirits with a shot that warmed Adrian's fingers, then the Hammers keeper made an even better save low to his right to keep out Geoff Cameron.
In the burning embers the Potters pressed hard to claim maximum points, but West Ham showed the kind of resolve that had earlier been missing to claim a share of the spoils and extend their unbeaten run to four games.
After the dust had settled, Sam Allardyce said: “I have to give Stoke credit for the way that they played.
“For me, at 2-0 it was about changing the shape of the team, getting the substitutes on that were going to give us an opportunity to get back in the game."
Allardyce continued: “The two goals we scored were fantastic goals, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. The extra quality we’ve got this year has paid dividends. It looked like we were getting nothing out of this game but we’ve got a precious point”.
Potters boss Mark Hughes said: “I thought we were excellent from start to finish. that was one of our most dynamic and creative performances this season.”
West Ham are next in Barclays Premier League action on Saturday when Aston Villa visit Upton Park.
Stoke City: Asmir Begovic, Geoff Cameron, Ryan Shawcross, Marc Wilson, Erik Pieters, Steven Nzonzi, Steve Sidwell, Jonathon Waters, Bojan (Charlie Adam), Victor Moses, Mame Diouf.
West Ham United: Adrian, Carl Jenkinson, James Collins, Winston Reid (James Tompkins), Aaron Cresswell, Morgan Amalfitano (Carlton Cole), Mark Noble (Kevin Nolan), Alex Song, Cheikhou Kouyate, Stewart Downing, Enner Valencia.
Referee: Chris Foy.
Assistants: M McDonough and C Hatzidakis.
Fourth Official: N Swarbrick.
Read more of this story in this week's edition.
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