Saturday, 15th March 2014
Despite Andy Carroll giving Sam Allardyce's side the lead after just five minutes Stoke came back to win the game comfortably, courtesy of goals from Marko Arnautovic and Peter Odemwingie (2) - both players formerly on West Ham's radar.
Yet there was more controversy with the Hammers left furious after being denied a stonewall penalty for handball by rookie referee Craig Pawson with the game poised at 1-1, when substitute Marc Muniesa clearly handled the ball inside the area.
West Ham's recent unbeaten run - a five-match sequence that culminated with Sam Allardyce being nominated as the Premier League's Manager of the Month for February - came to an abrupt end at Goodison Park a fortnight ago.
And today's defeat leaves West Ham only six points above the relegation zone which, whilst perhaps too early to be of serious concern, should at least highlight the need for a win or two reasonably urgently to finally dispel the spectre of relegation which has hung heavy over east London all season.
Allardyce made four changes to the side beaten at Everton with Antonio Nocerino, Winston Reid, Andy Carroll and Mo Diame all returning to the starting XI. That decision initially looked to have paid dividends when Carroll beat Stoke 'keeper Asmir Begovic to Mark Noble's free kick to head West Ham into the lead with just five minutes on the clock.
However United's lead was to last for less than half-an-hour before Peter Crouch got ahead of marker James Tomkins to stab a corner at goal that Odemwingie, placed on the goal line, got a glancing touch to.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first with West Ham making the initial running. Just a minute after Kevin Nolan was inches away from connecting with a Mo Diame cross the Hammers captain had the ball in the back of the net, only to be ruled offside (correctly, it should be noted).
But it was to be the home side who stuck the next, vital goal 21 minutes from time when Arnautovic - who was linked with a move to Upton Park last summer - skipped past a couple of poor tackles before slotting the ball past 'keeper Adrian, who should have perhaps done better with the shot.
The was certainly the case 10 minutes later when journeyman Odemwingie put the game beyond any doubt by smashing the ball between the Spanish stopper and his near post - a criminal offence for any goalkeeper.
The win sent Stoke above West Ham into tenth place and West Ham down to 12th - still six points above the drop zone, but with the horrendous run of fixtures to follow in April a few short of where Allardyce would perhaps like his team to be at this stage of the campaign.
Stoke City 3-1 West Ham United: Match Facts
West Ham Utd: Adrian, Guy Demel, Winston Reid, James Tomkins, George McCartney, Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble, Antonio Nocerino (Carlton Cole 76), Mo Diame, Andy Carroll (Pablo Armero 83), Stewart Downing (Joe Cole 62).
Subs not used: Jussi Jaaskelainen, James Collins, Matt Jarvis, Matt Taylor.
Goals: Andy Carroll (5).
Booked: Mark Noble.
Stoke City: Asmir Begovic, Geoff Cameron, Ryan Shawcross, Marc Wilson, Erik Pieters (Marc Muniesa 14), Glenn Whelan, Steven N'Zonzi, Peter Odemwingie, Steven Ireland, Marko Arnautovic, Peter Crouch.
Subs not used: Thomas Sorensen, Matthew Etherington, Andy Wilkinson, Wilson Palacios, Ryan Shotton, John Guidetti.
Goals: Peter Odemwingie (32, 79), Marko Arnautovic (69).
Booked: Glenn Whelan.
Referee: Craig Pawson.
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Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Andy Carroll.
West Ham United
Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Guy Demel, George McCartney, James Collins, James Tomkins, Mark Noble, Mo Diame, Matt Jarvis, Stewart Downing, Kevin Nolan, Andy Carroll.
Goals: None .
Booked: Winston Reid 81 James Collins 90 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Subs not used: .
Booked: None booked..
Sent Off: None sent off..