Writer: Niall Cope
Date:Tuesday November 20 2012
Stoke came away from Upton Park relatively happy after claiming a point against high-flying West Ham.
The Potters had taken a well deserved lead through Jonathan Walters early in the first-half but the Hammers hit back shortly after the interval, leaving the teams to settle for a predictable draw.
Tony Pulis decided to stick with the same 11 that had secured a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers a week before despite pre-match injury doubts over Andy Wilkinson, Glenn Whelan, Charlie Adam and Walters.
Stoke were the quickest out of the blocks and should have taken a third minute lead, but after Peter Crouch had knocked down a long ball to Adam, the advanced midfielder was unable to direct his shot towards goal inside the penalty area.
Crouch had an effort of his own shortly after, but he saw his tame header easily gathered by Jussi Jaaskelainen in the Hammers` goal as Stoke continued to pile on the pressure.
Stoke`s reliance on set-pieces paid off after 13 minutes when a fine corner routine allowed Walters to strike through the legs of Andy Carroll and into the goal.
The next 15 minutes transcended into a scrappy affair as Stoke went about frustrating their opponents by slowing down the game, no one more so than goalkeeper Asmir Begovic who was continually time wasting.
Stoke almost made it two with their second corner of the game. An out-swinging corner from the left from Matthew Etherington saw Robert Huth rise highest in a packed penalty area but his header was acrobatically palmed away by Jasskelainen.
The Hammers` only real chance in the first period came after a barnstorming run from Mohamed Diame gave Kevin Nolan the opportunity to strike inside the six- yard box, but he saw his effort comfortable parried to safety by Begovic.
Andy Wilkinson was taken off injured with what looked like a recurrence of his back injury after half an hour and replaced by fellow local lad Ryan Shotton for his first appearance in the League since the opening day.
Steven Nzonzi was being allowed the freedom to play a little further forward and after firing wide with his first effort, he rattled his next against the crossbar from 20 yards.
Stoke went into the break on top but the second-half was one that the Potters struggled to gain a foothold of once West Ham had levelled early on.
After Nolan had fired a warning shot by missing a sitter from six yards, the Hammers punished Stoke with their next chance as Joey O`Brien scored his first Premier League goal from a similar position, after a low cross from the right by Gary O`Neil.
Modibo Maiga almost put West Ham ahead shortly after but once Carroll knock down had reach him, the Malian international fired straight at Whelan on the Stoke goaline.
The Hammers` continued to pepper the Stoke penalty area with George McCartney having his effort saved by the impressive Begovic.
Whelan was the next injured Stoke player to be replaced as Wilson Palacios came on for the final 30 minutes to try to rebalance the scales in the midfield battle.
West Ham tried a training ground corner of their own moments later but O`Neil`s curling shot went narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
Stoke were comfortable at the back but were failing to trouble down the other end and the introduction of Michael Kightly for the impressive Etherington did little to change that.
The contest petered out in the final few minutes although West Ham looked the more likely to clinch it as Stoke settled for the point after a second half completely dominated by Sam Allardyce`s men.
The result means that Stoke have failed to win an away game in the Premier League this season, whilst also surpassing a club record of 16 away matches without a win since a 2-1 victory against Blackburn Rovers on January 2.
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Date:Tuesday November 20 2012
|7. West Ham||22||10||6||6||10||36|
|13. Crystal Palace||22||5||8||9||-8||23|
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