Manager reaction below. To see the best match pictures, click on the box top left and scroll to “Photostream”
West Ham United missed out on moving up to fifth in the Barclays Premier League after being held to a 1-1 draw by Stoke City at Upton Park. The Hammers fell behind to an early Jonathan Walters goal as Stoke went in search of their first away win in 15 league outings but ended up with a share of the spoils courtesy of a rare goal by Joey O'Brien.
West Ham's task was always going to be harder after conceding the lead as Stoke looked to sit back and soak up the pressure. Sam Allardyce's side struggled to create chances in the first half but were more dangerous after the break and dominated proceedings after O'Brien's second goal for the club.
The hosts saw more of the ball in the opening 10 minutes but Stoke showed their usual aerial threat on a couple of occasions, most notably when Ryan Shawcross angled a long ball forward which Peter Crouch knocked down into the path of Charlie Adam, who could not keep his shot down. Stoke's opening goal came from a set-piece. From a corner Glenn Whelan rolled the ball along the ground into the area where a clever run from the far past allowed Walters to convert a thumping 13th-minute shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen.
West Ham struggled to break down a resolute Stoke defence. Andy Carroll, still searching for his first West Ham goal, got a head on a Gary O'Neil cross but Asmir Begovic collected. Stoke, playing on the counter-attack, pushed forward and almost doubled their lead through another corner. This time it was launched high into the penalty area and Robert Huth headed towards goal but it was pushed clear by Jaaskelainen.
Mohamed Diame and Kevin Nolan combined well after 25 minutes but Nolan's through-ball had too much weight and Begovic gathered. Nolan came close to a sixth goal of the season as he forced Begovic into a decent save but as West Ham exerted more pressure Stoke almost got a second seven minutes before half-time. Steven N'Zonzi fired in a shot from 25 yards that crashed off the crossbar and bounced just in front of the goalline.
West Ham might have equalised within a minute of the start of the second half when Diame combined with Modibo Maiga down the left to free McCartney. The left-back's cross was perfect for Nolan but the West Ham captain headed too close to Begovic. The leveller came moments later as Diame's shot was charged down and O'Neil delivered from the right for O'Brien, who had continued his run into the area after starting the move, to score.
Stoke appeared rattled by West Ham’s equaliser and Maiga came close to putting the home side ahead on 55 minutes. Mark Noble's corner was won by Carroll and Maiga latched onto his knockdown but could not beat Begovic. West Ham again came close as O'Neil's cross deflected off Huth and wide of the near post.
O'Neil came close with his own effort after a well-worked short-corner routine found him free in the area but his whipped effort curled just wide. Winston Reid had a good chance to secure three points with a late header but the West Ham defender did not get enough on his effort.
West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce: "We deserved three [points] in the end. Stoke were slightly better than us in the first half and we had to recover from what was an extremely good goal.
"Having to come from 1-0 down in any game in the Premier League is difficult. [It's] another point on the board, we move on reasonably happy.
"When you put that much pressure on the opposition second half you have got to try and a be a bit more ruthless in front of goal, a little bit more quality and composure needed and we probably would have won it, but at the end of the day it is another point."
"[Andy Carroll] is going to attract attention by the fact he is very good at his hold-up play and [because of] his heading ability, and people are going to need to pay particular attention to him," he said.
"He is going to attract one or two defenders around him and that will create spaces elsewhere. Andy is not to be frustrated by the fact that he is not scoring at the moment and in fact today he didn't get much of a chance to score. But sooner or later, if we keep concentrating on him making runs into the box and the service we give, he will eventually score.
"Fresh players with fresh legs can come on and try and push the opposition and try to score a goal. He will be disappointed [to be substituted], but in the end you make the subs for the benefit of everybody to try and win the game."
Stoke City manager Tony Pulis: "We played really well in the first half but fair play to West Ham. Their crowd really, really got behind them and we showed a lot of resilience in the second half.
"First half we created the better opportunities and really we needed that second goal. The worst thing that happened to us was half-time. That took the momentum away from us.
"We started very sloppy in the second half, we invited West Ham onto us and they scored a goal and from that point onwards we need to show a lot of resilience and determination as a group not to concede a second."
"We had worked on it [the corner routine for the Stoke goal] for two or three days and never scored a goal in training doing it. Luckily tonight it went in for us. I'm not supposed to say this but we obstructed a player [for the goal].
"I spend a lot of time watching videos and watching teams and I felt if we could do this it would come off. You work on it millions and millions of times. All of my career I have always looked for little angles and little areas that we could exploit from set-plays and it is lovely when it comes off."
|25 Nov 2012||v Tottenham (A)|
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|01 Dec 2012||v Chelsea (H)|
|09 Dec 2012||v Liverpool (H)|
|16 Dec 2012||v West Brom (A)|
|22 Dec 2012||v Everton (H)|