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West Ham Utd 1 Stoke City 1

Filed: Tuesday, 20th November 2012
By: Staff Writer

It's a measure of how far West Ham have come in such a short space of time that tonight's 1-1 draw with Stoke City will be considered a slightly disappointing result.

Despite extending their unbeaten run to three games Sam Allardyce's side will have left the Boleyn Ground with a deep feeling of frustration having failed to take all three points against a team now firmly established in the top flight.

After falling behind early on and surviving a scare when the visitors were the width of a crossbar from doubling their lead, United never looked back and can consider themselves unfortunate not to have secured a fourth home win of the campaign.

Jonathan Walters had given the Potters an early lead when he fired home from the edge of the penalty area having escaped his marker at a corner.

Whilst it cannot be argued that the goal arose from a well-worked move, West Ham - who went into the game with only Manchester City having conceded fewer goals in the league - uncharacteristically switched off to allow Walters the opportunity to score.

However there was little they could do about Steven Nzonzi's 20-yard effort that came crashing back off Jussi Jaaskelainen's crossbar eight minutes ahead of the break; had that found the back of the net it may have been a very different story come full time.

As it was West Ham - who were missing half-a-dozen key squad members - had the opportunity to consolidate and take stock at the break.

Having done that, they got off to the perfect start in the second half by wiping out Stoke's single-goal advantage just three minutes after the restart when man-of-the-moment Joey O'Brien slammed Gary O'Neil's low cross from the right into the roof of the net.

O'Brien - who has been the recipient of some glowing praise from both supporters and his manager in recent weeks - gambled by staying forward during an early second half attack and got his reward when O'Neil's driven cross across the face of the six-yard box was perfectly placed for the Irish full back to pounce on.

From that moment on the visitors spent most of the game in their own half fighting off wave after wave of West Ham attacks. Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Mo Diame all went close but the Irons just couldn't find that all-important second goal that would have taken them to fifth in the table - and in the end, it was Stoke who were probably happiest with the point.

* Watch extended highlights from the game here.

West Ham Utd: Jaaskelainen, O'Brien, McCartney, Reid, Tomkins, Noble, Diame, Nolan, O'Neil, Maiga, Carroll.

Subs: Spiegel, Collins, Taylor, Cole, Hall, Spence, Demel.

Stoke City: Begovic, Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Wilkinson, Whelan, N'Zonzi, Adam, Etherington, Crouch, Walters.

Subs: Sorensen, Palacios, Jones, Upson, Kightly, Shotton, Jerome.

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