Tale of two halves
As part of our Premier League snapshots feature, Rachel Griffiths examines West Ham's 1-1 draw with Stoke.
Last Updated: November 19, 2012 11:29pm
West Ham: Missed a chance to go fifth but pulled off a second-half revival
West Ham could have gone fifth in the Premier League with a win over Stoke at Upton Park but had to settle for a point.
The Potters made the better start and were rewarded when Jonathan Walters put the finish on an attractive set-piece move, but unlikely hero Joey O'Brien pulled one back in the second half.
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce was forced to make two changes to his starting XI due to injury to Yossi Benayoun and Matt Jarvis, so Modibo Maiga stepped in on his full Premier League debut, while Gary O'Neil also earned a spot. Maiga was a lively presence in attack as he continued to charge down the left but his deliveries were lacking and he couldn't make much of an impact. O'Neil was quieter on the right but provided a tidy cross for Joey O'Brien's equaliser.
There were no changes for Potters manager Tony Pulis as he fielded the same starting XI that beat QPR last weekend. Midfielder Glenn Whelan overcame a hamstring complaint to feature and Pulis will have been glad to have him back after he floated in the corner that set up Jonathan Walters' opener.
The Hammers were set up in a 4-5-1 with the intention to get the ball to Andy Carroll at the head of their attack, but the final whistle blew with the striker still waiting for his first West Ham goal. The on-loan Liverpool man was denied much quality service from Maiga and O'Neil on the wings and couldn't win his aerial battles, cutting a frustrated figure as he exited the pitch five minutes from time. Mohamed Diame often looked the Hammers' biggest threat down the middle even in a subdued first half, and was the instigator for their opener.
Stoke came out in a similar set up to their hosts, with Peter Crouch mirroring Carroll at the head of their frontline, but the towering hitman was also kept quiet, with James Tomkins doing a particularly solid job for West Ham in defence. Matthew Etherington and goalscorer Jonathan Walters were Pulis' widemen, with the boss choosing to swap the latter to the left in the second half, presumably to provide cover for Shotton.
Allardyce made his changes fairly late in the game, with his first coming in the 77th minute when Guy Demel replaced goalscorer O'Brien. The full-back was more aggressive getting forward but was mostly subdued by Shotton. Two more changes five minutes from time saw a frustrated Carroll and Maiga make way for Carlton Cole and Matthew Taylor as the boss hunted a late winner to no avail.
Pulis was forced into an early change when Andy Wilkinson picked up an injury and Shotton stepped on in his place. The full-back was unable to deal with O'Neil's cross for O'Brien's equaliser as Stoke let their lead slide. Wilson Palacios was brought on for Glenn Whelan after the Hammers pulled one back and did a solid job screening the back four, while Michael Kightly couldn't make an impact on the wing in place of Etherington.
A quiet game meant Chris Foy did not have to deal with too many big decisions, with the referee handing out a solitary yellow card to Mark Noble for an ill-judged tackle on Walters from behind. Allardyce, along with most of the West Ham players, were however up in arms as the match official seemed to miss Geoff Cameron's push on Carroll as he challenged for the ball on the edge of the penalty area.
West Ham could have climbed into fifth in the Premier League with a win at Upton Park and after a spirited second-half display they might feel disappointed not to have claimed a maximum haul, but they paid for a slow start. However, there were positives to take from their revival and they will hope to carry the momentum from their final 45 minutes into next weekend's trip to Tottenham, which starts a daunting run of fixtures. Carroll's goal drought is still a worry and the striker himself looked irritated as he left the pitch but the likes of Diame continue to look a threat.
After starting the brighter side, Pulis' men will be annoyed not to have finished the job after a well-organised and effective first half. The Potters remain in 14th place in the table and will hope to get back to winning ways on home soil when they host Fulham.