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West Ham United ended a run of five straight Barclays Premier League away defeats as Jack Collison’s solitary strike secured all three points for Sam Allardyce’s side at Stoke City.
In a first half of few chances, Hammers defender James Collins’s header clipped the bar before Collison netted in stoppage time, finishing on the turn after collecting a through-ball from fellow substitute Ricardo Vaz Te.
The strike proved to be the winner, although Charlie Adam did go close to an equaliser in added time at the end of the game with a volley that cracked against the bar.
The result - only the second home league loss for Stoke this season - saw West Ham move up to 12th, level on points with the Staffordshire side, who are now 11th.
The Hammers made a less than ideal start to the match, having to make two substitutions within the opening 11 minutes.
Matt Taylor took a boot in the face as Peter Crouch attempted an overhead kick and was down for some time before heading down the tunnel in the 10th minute, with Collison coming on in his place. Moments later Joe Cole was replaced by Vaz Te after also picking up an injury.
The contest struggled to spark into life, with a deflected Andy Carroll shot and a tame effort by Peter Crouch the only action of merit in the opening stages.
After the early disruption to their formation West Ham finally found some rhythm with Collin’s looped flicked header hitting the bar in the 25th minute.
Collison then unleashed a shot from outside the box straight at Asmir Begovic before Carroll leapt in front of goal, only to direct his header well wide.
The Hammers continued to look the more likely to break the deadlock and with seconds of the first half remaining, they managed to do it as their two substitutes combined.
Having attempted to play a one-two with Carroll and seen the ball fall back into his path as the England striker was tackled by Ryan Shawcross, Vaz Te slipped a pass to Collison, who turned and drilled a shot beyond Begovic.
Stoke appealed for a penalty early in the second half after Cameron Jerome went down in the area under the attentions of Joey O’Brien but referee Jon Moss waved for play to continue.
Soon after, Matt Jarvis collected another Vaz Te through-ball and saw his shot saved by the legs of Begovic. Crouch then brought a stop out of Jussi Jaaskelainen with a low attempt.
Vaz Te tried to carve out the space to shoot in the box but was unable to do so and Stoke then almost snatched a dramatic equaliser as Adam rifled a volley against the frame of the goal in stoppage time.
Stoke City manager Tony Pulis: “We huffed and puffed, I didn't think we got enough quality into the box. Playing with strikers today, they need a little bit more service than what we've given them and we just didn't get the crosses in to service them.
"People criticise the forwards not scoring goals but they've got to have good service. We've gone a little bit flat without a question of a doubt but we'll keep going."
West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce: "It was the biggest one [victory in the season] without a doubt. We've played well enough the last few away games but not got any points and certainly the disappointment on Monday night having played so well against Tottenham and being in the lead and not getting anything out of that was a big pressure on us today and we've come up trumps.
"It puts us back in the middle of the pack in the middle of the table again. [We are on] 33 points, ever closer to that big 40 that we all look for.”
|10 Mar 2013||v Newcastle (A)|
|27 Apr 2013||v Norwich (H)|
|14 Apr 2013||v Man Utd (H)|
|16 Mar 2013||v West Brom (H)|
|20 Apr 2013||v QPR (A)|
|12 May 2013||v Spurs (H)|