West Ham let lead slip in dour draw with Stoke City
PUBLISHED: 17:12 05 November 2016 | UPDATED: 21:49 05 November 2016
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammmers struggled to find a cutting edge as the Potters hit back for a share of the points
West Ham United 1 Stoke City 1
It proved to be another frustrating afternoon at the London Stadium for West Ham United, who had to settle for a share of the spoils against an in-form Stoke City side.
Following a dismal opening first-half that had seen both sides cancel each other out, the Hammers took the lead on 65 minutes, when Michail Antonio’s header deflected in-off the back of Glenn Whelan.
But with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, substitute Bojan rescued a point for the Potters – who are now unbeaten in six games - after Adrián had suicidally dashed from his line in pursuit of a through-ball.
A disappointing defeat at Everton on Sunday had ended a three-match unbeaten league run for the Hammers and, after coming unstuck against the Toffees, Slaven Bilić made two changes to his side kicking off in 17th-spot, as James Collins came in for the suspended Winston Reid, while Andre Ayew replaced substitute Edimilson Fernandes.
The Potters 3-1 win over Swansea City on Monday evening had made it a hat-trick of wins, but those three points had come at a cost with Zherdan Shaqiri limping off with a tight hamstring, while Marko Arnautović’s fifth booking of the season had earned him a one-match ban.
That meant that Mark Hughes had to reshuffle his 12th-placed side as Jonathan Walters and Ramadan Sobhi entered the fray and, certainly, Stoke enjoyed the better of the early exchanges.
Phil Bardsley fired high over the top as the first corner of the game was cleared to the edge of the area and, after Antonio was booked for felling an escaping Erik Pieters, Walters then drilled a dangerous centre across the face of goal.
Mark Noble’s careless pass also enabled Wifried Bony to break but when the ball broke lose to Joe Allen he slashed wide from 15 yards.
Midway through the half, the Hammers finally threatened, when Dimitri Payet crossed to the far post but Ayew was crowded out and, picking up the spoils, Noble’s shot spun harmlessly towards the corner flag before Manuel Lanzini fired wildly over, too.
Shortly afterwards, Payet was the architect behind another West Ham chance but this time City ‘keeper Lee Grant brilliantly beat the ball away after the Frenchman found Angelo Ogbonna’s forehead with an inch-perfect corner.
At the other end, Bardsley drilled another half-cleared Stoke corner wide and, in the closing seconds of the half, Charlie Adam sidefooted into Adrián’s clutches before Payet’s 18-yard free-kick tickled the roof of Grant’s net in the final act of a grey, goalless opening 45 minutes.
Still wearing his shooting boots for the second half, Bardsley sent a 30-yarder just inches wide of the flying Adrián’s left-hand angle, while at the other end, another unlikely lad – Pedro Obiang – sent a low 25-yard shot bouncing into Grant’s clutches at the base of his right post.
Adam also tried his luck from range but still this contest was struggling to trouble the scoreboard operator and, on the hour, Bilić made a double-switch as Ashley Fletcher and Fernandes replaced Ayew and Lanzini.
And having made that double roll of the dice, Hammers boss could not have reaped a quicker dividend for, on 65 minutes, Payet clipped over a cross from the left side of the Stoke area and Antonio climbed highest to send a 10-yard header ricocheting off Whelan’s shoulder and through the clutches of Grant to finally break the deadlock.
With his side now trailing, Hughes made a double-switch of his own as Peter Crouch and Bojan came on for Whelan and Bony. Fernandes was soon booked for tugging back Sobhi before Crouch typically got in the thick of things to force Adrián into a point blank save as the resulting free-kick looped into the six-yard box.
But having survived that let-off, the Hammers keeper was not so fortunate on 75 minutes, when he raced from goal in an attempt to rob Walters as he chased down a through-ball.
Disastrously for the consequently-booked Spaniard, though, the pole-axed Stoke striker was still able to prod the ball into the path of the supporting Bojan, who sidefooted into an empty net as the home defence desperately tried to cover their AWOL stopper.
Having seen their lead evaporate into the November night, it could have got yet worse for West Ham as Adam twice forced Adrián to repel his trademark long-rangers but in the end both sides had to settle for a point.
Hammers: Adrian, Kouyaté, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble, Obiang (Feghouli 88), Antonio, Lanzini (Fernandes 62), Payet, Ayew (Fletcher 62). Unused subs: Randolph, Nordtveit, Zaza, Calleri.
Potters: Grant, Bardsley, Pieters, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Whelan (Bojan 71), Allen, Adam, Sobhi (Diouf 84), Walters, Bony (Crouch 71). Unused subs: Given, Muniesa, Imbula, Verlinden.
Booked: Antonio (10), Fernandes (72), Adrián (76), Noble (88), Allen (90+3)
Referee: Andre Marriner.
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