West Ham throw away lead to lose at Stoke City
16:51 15 March 2014
Premier League: Stoke City 3 West Ham United 1
West Ham squandered an early lead to crash to defeat at the Britannia as clinical Stoke City put them to the sword in the second half.
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce made four changes from the team that had narrowly lost at Everton with Andy Carroll replacing Carlton Cole, Mo Diame coming in for Matt Jarvis, Winston Reid for James Collins and Antonio Nocerino making his first start for the Hammers at the expense of Matt Taylor.
And the changes seemed to work a treat as It took West Ham just five minutes to grab the lead as it was that man Carroll who was on hands to score his first goal of the season.
Mark Noble dinked a free kick into the danger area and Carroll showed strength and leaping ability to get up highest and head the ball into the net.
Two minutes later he went close again when he controlled well and let fly with a shot that deflected wide, though in between those two efforts, Stoke had a chance when Stephen Ireland was put in, only for his shot to be superbly saved by Adrian in the West Ham goal.
Stoke began to push forward with plenty of possession and on 33 minutes they snatched an equaliser. An Ireland corner was swung in from the left and Peter Crouch rose above James Tomkins to head against the crossbar and he was quickest to react and hooked the rebound into the net to make it 1-1.
Carroll went close to restoring the West Ham leas on 42 minutes when he controlled well and turned before letting fly with a shot that flew inches over the top.
But right on half time it was Stoke who almost snatched the lead. A lovely passing move saw Ireland played through, but his fierce shot was superbly palmed away by Adrian to keep the scores level at the break.
West Ham looked to regain some semblance of control at the start of the second half and they almost did that by going back in front on 51 minutes.
Diame did well to get to the by-line on the right and when he chipped a cross to the far post, Kevin Nolan, falling backwards, headed just wide.
Seven minutes later West Ham went close again. A lovely one-two between Nolan and Carroll saw the latter go in on goal, but his shot was expertly saved by Asmir Begovic.
A minute later Nolan had the ball in the net, only for it to be ruled out for offside, though the replays suggested he may have been level with the last Stoke defender.
But West Ham were to pay for those missed chances when Stoke took the lead against the run of play with 20 minutes left.
Ireland fed Marko Arnautovic and he got a slightly lucky deflection off James Tomkins before running into the box and firing a low shot that Adrian could only help into the net.
The Hammers looked to have had a big shout for a penalty five minutes later when sub Marc Muniesa went up with Carroll and seemed to stop the ball with his raised arms, but the referee waved away the vociferous protests.
Allardyce threw on Carlton Cole for Nocerino as he looked for an equaliser, but thought they piled on the pressure, they could not carve out a clear chance and they paid the price as the Potters hit them with a clinical break on 79 minutes to secure the points.
Ireland marched forward in a three against three break, before slipping the ball to Peter Odemwingie who hammered in a vicious shot from an angle.
Colombian defender Pablo Armero made his West Ham debut with seven minutes left, but there was little he could do to turn the tide for West Ham and indeed Stoke could have added to their tally before the end.
It was a little harsh on the Hammers who have now lost two games on the trot in the Premier League and will be looking a little nervously over their shoulders going into the home game with Manchester United next Saturday.
West Ham: Adrian, Demel, McCartney, Reid, Tomkins, Noble, Nocerino (Cole C), Diame, Downing (Cole J 63), Nolan, Carroll (Armero 83).
Unused Subs: Jaaskelainen, Jarvis, Taylor, Collins.