Stoke strike Hammer blow
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 01 Sep 2013 14:55:00
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West Ham United suffered their first defeat of the 2013/14 campaign as Stoke City arrived in East London and took away all three points thanks to a 1-0 win on Saturday afternoon.

Sam Allardyce named the same starting line-up that drew away at Newcastle United last weekend, although there were some changes on the bench. Alou Diarra had to be substituted in Tuesday night's win over Cheltenham Town because of a knee injury, so Ravel Morrison was named in the matchday squad after impressing on his start against the Robins.

Joe Cole also picked up a hamstring problem in training on Friday, so Development Squad striker Elliott Lee took his place amongst the substitutes.

Ricardo Vaz Te did not feature in the 18 man squad, reportedly due to his transfer request, and this made way for Jack Collison and Matthew Taylor on the bench.

The visitors made a bright start and Kenwyne Jones was a constant threat from the word go. The first evidence of this was shown after ten minutes when he set up a counter attack and was too quick for both James Collins and Winston Reid, but fortunately when the frontman took a shot the effort went sailing high into the Bobby Moore stand.

The home side were really out of sorts giving easy possession away but luckily for the hosts when Stoke attacked again, Jones's cross was easily caught by Jussi Jaaskelainen.

On 15 minutes a freekick was awarded to the East Londoners for a foul on Modibo Maiga. Matt Jarvis took the set-piece and found Stewart Downing but his cross turned out to be an easy catch for goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

Jaaskelainen was forced to make a superb double save on 23 minutes, when a cross was knocked back into the area by Jonathan Waters and the ball found Charlie Adam. The Scotsman's high shot was volleyed goalwards by Marc Wilson but West Ham survived thanks to the Finn.

The Hammers squandered a great chance to take the lead on 34 minutes, when captain Kevin Nolan played a great ball to Jarvis who set up Maiga but unfortunately the striker headed wide of the post.

Stoke had most of the play and were controlling the ball well before the referee Jon Moss blew the whistle to end what had been a dull first half.

West Ham seemed to have improved when the second-half got underway. However, when a chance came their way in the opening stages, they could not capitalise on it as a great team move was ended when Guy Demel's cross for Maiga was too high for him to reach.

It just wasn't happening for the home side, as two minutes later after Reid had got the better of Jones he set up Mohamed Diame, but again the effort went wide.

Another two minutes had passed when there was an injury scare for Reid, as Jones clattered into him when the defender jumped for the ball. After a lengthy delay and although the stretcher was brought on, he was able to continue.

Clearly unimpressed with what he had seen up until this point, Big Sam decided to make a change, so Morrison was able to make his first League appearance in front of the home fans as he replaced Downing on 63 minutes.

The Potters finally made the breakthrough on 82 minutes, as substitute Jermaine Pennant expertly lifted a freekick over the wall and past Jaaskelainen. The set-piece was awarded to the visitors after the West Ham skipper had given possession away cheaply and Reid commited the foul. The New Zealander was subsequently booked for dissent.

When the game restarted, Maiga played the ball to Joey O'Brien but he couldn't find the perfect response. Instead he shot over the bar.

On 84 minutes, Allardyce made a second change replacing Mark Noble with Collison and three minutes later, West Ham's final change was introduced as Lee, who was making his Premier League debut, came on for Diame.

After four minutes of stoppage time had been played, there were boos from the home support as Mark Hughes was able to celebrate his first win at Upton Park as a manager.

Allardyce's men will look to bounce back when they take the trip to St Mary's to face Southampton on Sunday September 15 after the international break.

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