Second half header saves a point for Potters...West Ham United recorded their first point of the season as they earned a well deserved 1-1 draw against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
West Ham's player of the season so far Scott Parker opened the scoring for the visitors, but the home side responded in the second half as Kenwyne Jones levelled to earn both teams a point.
Stoke City manager Tony Pulis only made one change from the side that beat Aston Villa on Monday, with Jermaine Pennant earning his first start since his loan move from Real Zaragoza. While West Ham United manager Avram Grant, who was not at the game due to the Jewish holy day, started with a very attacking line-up with Carlton Cole, Frederic Piquionne and Victor Obinna up front.
The game started quite evenly, with both teams looking cautious, not willing to give the other side the chance to seize control and pull ahead. However it was West Ham who settled the quickest and created the first chance of the game, although Carlton Cole’s left foot shot was dragged well wide. But it wasn’t long before the home side were applying the pressure in the West Ham penalty area, with Rory Delap’s long throws a constant threat.
The visitors were looking to achieve their first points of the season and were producing some good football, certainly much improved from their previous three games and they had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Lee Mason when Victor Obinna’s goalward shot seemed to touch the hand of Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross before falling into the hands of Thomas Sorensen.
However, the Hammers still looked vulnerable at the back, with goalkeeper Robert Green, who has been criticised about his poor start to the season, fumbling a Jermaine Pennant free-kick into the path of Robert Huth, who hit the post.
As the half progressed, the game was opening up, as both teams moved away from their cautious approach in order to secure the points. West Ham though were still looking the most likely to break the deadlock, working hard in the absence of manager Avram Grant and they got their rewards just after the half hour mark. A free-kick on the right by Obinna wasn’t cleared by the Stoke defence and the ball landed at the feet of Scott Parker, who smashed the ball into the net from a couple of yards, to give the East Londoners a well deserved one goal lead.
The Hammers were still looking dangerous after the goal and could have gone further in front within two minutes, but Piquionne’s right foot shot cannoned off the bar much to the delight of Stoke keeper Sorensen.
The home fans were starting to get on their team's back, but Stoke could have pulled level just before half time. Another long throw by Delap was met by Kenwyne Jones and he somehow headed over from a few yards, and West Ham managed to go into the half time break with their lead intact.
However, within two minutes of the second half, Stoke were back level. A sweeping cross on the right by the energetic Pennant floated over Robert Green and there was Kenwyne Jones to head the ball into the net. And the home side could have pulled in front just a minute later only for West Ham defender Lars Jacobson to block Matthew Etherington’s goalward shot.
Stoke were soon taking control of the game and looked a completely different side to the first half and could have pulled ahead again just before the hour mark. The physical presence of Jones was causing problems for the West Ham defence and he managed to muscle Matthew Upson off the ball only to see his curling right foot shot rebound off the post after a superb save by Robert Green.
Despite the home side’s dominance, the Hammers still threatened and the home side had Sorensen to thank for not being behind as he first saved a shot from Obinna, then produced an even better save to deny Manuel da Costa from the resulting corner.
But it was the Potters who created the next chance to pull ahead in the match. Rory Delap producing an ever-threatening long throw into the penalty area, which was met by the head of substitute Ricardo Fuller, who headed onto the bar.
Stoke had one more chance to score just a few minutes from the end as Matthew Etherington’s shot was tipped over by Robert Green, but the game ended with both teams earning a point in an evenly matched 1-1 draw.