Writer: Charlie Bennett
Date:Saturday October 17 2009
A brace from James Beattie was enough to see Stoke battle past West Ham. The former Everton man slotted home a penalty early in the first half before scrambling in a goalkeeper error at the far post. Matthew Upson had equalised for the Hammers.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis controversially named the same starting eleven that drew at Everton 2 weeks earlier. That meant that Salif Diao retained his midfield place and Tuncay was once again left on the bench. Matthew Etherington lined up against his former team.
The home side were quick out of the blocks and bombarded the West Ham penalty area with some slick play and deadly set-pieces. West Ham`s leaky defence was helpless when a combination of Fuller and Etherington sent the latter through in the penalty area. After being blatantly tripped by Julian Faubert all eyes were on the referee who pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Beattie, who had previously not scored this season. After the trademark run up he lashed the ball into the top corner of Robert Green`s goal to give the Potters a perfect start as they looked for there first win since late August.
After finally waking up West Ham set about playing some of their quick passing football that Gianfranco Zola has installed at the club, but they couldn`t get past the resolute back four which was even further enhanced with the protection of Salif Diao.
Summer signing Alessandro Diamanti tested Sorensen with a powerfully struck 30 yard free-kick but the Danish international, who will be representing his country at next summer`s world cup, was more than up to the task.
After such a tremendous start which had us thinking how many we could score today, the Potters sat back and went into there shell as the visitors started to take control.
This spell of pressure resulted in an equaliser which 5 minutes before you would never of seen coming. A dangerously whipped in cross by Mark Noble saw English defender Matthew Upson beat Abdoulaye Faye in the air and he nodded the ball into the net to bring the scores level.
With the impending World Cup now is the time to impress the national mangers and Carlton Cole looked to set to do that. The former Chelsea star was twice denied in the first half by first Sorensen and then Huth as he provided a stern test for the City back line.
As half-time arrived the fans change in mood dramatically swung from delirious to frustrated.
This showed no sign of changing in the early play of the second half and Diamanti almost curled an effort past Sorensen who dived spectacularly to his tight to pluck the ball out of mid air.
Etherington at the other end then supplied Beattie with a glorious chance to either score or set-up Delap at the far post. He did neither and blazed the ball high into row z.
The atmosphere went up a notch as man of the match Shawcross missed by inches from an Etherington corner. His towering header was cleared off the line and his follow up fell just past the post.
After his attacking expertise, Shawcross then made the tackle of the season so far as he scrambled back to block Carlton Cole's 6 yard effort.
The goal arrived a minute later as Salif Diao made a superb tackle in the heart of the midfield and released Fuller down the wing. The hungry Jamaican went on one of those mazy runs we are so used to and cut inside before firing his shot at goal.
Hammers keeper Green could only parry the shot and in came Beattie at the far post to prod the ball home and send Potters fans delirious again.
After that it was all Stoke as Etherington missed a splendid chance to wrap things up but his header fell just wide.
The induction of Lawrence, Whelan and Kitson added some more legs into the Potters in the dying minutes as they held on for a crucial win to avenge last years results.
Stoke now sit 9th in the table and face a tricky trip to Tottenham next weekend.
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Date:Saturday October 17 2009
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