Walters' fine strike helps to burst West Ham's bubble
West Ham Utd 1 Stoke City 1:The stage was set for West Ham United. The club had never been better off at this stage of a Premier League season, confidence was high and Stoke City’s away form had been terrible.
Sam Allardyce’s Movember tache looked magnificent and the evening called for his team to cement their place in the top six, to keep the Upton Park bubbles buoyant.
Stoke enjoyed themselves in the first-half and they deserved to lead through Jon Walters. West Ham hinted at a comeback when Joey O’Brien crashed in his first league goal but the grand finish did not materialise.
The best chance of the early exchanges fell to Stoke from a Peter Crouch knock-down but Charlie Adam could not convert a difficult volley. There were flickers of finesse and the breakthrough goal was steeped in it. Stoke strung together a slick low passing move that resulted in a corner, and Walters swept home a sweet low volley.
Walters had bent his run from the far corner of the six-yard box and past the penalty spot to meet Glenn Whelan’s low corner, with his marker, George McCartney, stopped in his tracks by a block from Adam.
Stoke’s lead at the interval might have been greater. Robert Huth’s header was clawed to safety by Jussi Jaaskelainen while Steven N’Zonzi hit a rising drive from outside the area against the underside of the crossbar.
West Ham were poor in the first-half. Allardyce’s demand for better quality was heeded upon the restart. Kevin Nolan had somehow failed to convert McCartney’s cross from point-blank range when West Ham recycled possession for Gary ONeil to cross from the right. O’Brien’s imitation of a centre-forward was more than passable when he lifted his shot high past Begovic.
The equaliser ignited the occasion. O’Neil and Modibo Maiga had a shot cleared off the line, and O’Neil bent a shot wide. West Ham shaded it but they could not get the job done.