Hammers Battle To Rescue Point
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 02 Nov 2014 12:43:00
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Sam Allardyce stated in his pre-match news conference on Thursday that in the last two seasons, West Ham United have has a dip in form during November and December. Well, at Stoke City on Saturday, they did have did suffer a slight dip in form but to be fair they battled back to earn a 2-2 draw at the Britannia Stadium.

Diafra Sakho wasn't deemed fit enough to face the Potters, so one change was made to the Hammers' starting line-up as Cheikou Kouyate came in for his first start since picking up an ankle injury against Liverpool in September.

The travelling support probably knew that this was going to be a tough game and both defences appeared to be on top for the opening 20 minutes of the match. On 24 minutes, there was a scare for the visitors as key defender Winston Reid was replaced with James Tomkins after the New Zealander went down with a leg injury, however, reports this morning suggest he should be back for next Saturday's home clash with Aston Villa.

On 32 minutes, Alex Song went close to opening the scoring but it was well blocked by the home defence.

Shortly after, Stoke made the breakthrough with a scrappy goal as Victor Moses tapped the ball home, following a well rehearsed team move.

In first-half stoppage time, Adrian prevented the scoreline from getting any worse by producing a spectacular save from Mame Biram Diouf's effort.

As the teams headed down the tunnel and into the dressing rooms, the Hammers knew they had a mountain to climb.

During the break, Big Sam decided to change the sides' shape and also bring on a substitution; Carlton Cole came on to make his 200th Premier League appearance for West Ham in place of Morgan Amalfitano, thus giving Enner Valencia more support upfront.

Stoke were once again on top when the teams reemerged and they doubled their advantage on 56 minutes, when Jonathan Walters got the better of Aaron Cresswell and sent a cross in for Diouf to place past Adrian.

The Irons reduced the deficit just six minutes later, when Stewart Downing set up Valencia to place a header past Asmir Begovic.

The hosts were on the attack again soon after, but Adrian saved well to deny Walters putting them further in front.

On 68 minutes, Allardyce made his final change, as stand-in skipper Mark Noble was replaced by regular skipper Kevin Nolan.

Mark Hughes' side missed a gilt-edged chance to go further ahead, as Bojan Krkic measured a perfect cross for Diouf to get his head onto, but fortunately for the Hammers the free header went just wide of the post.

Unbelievably, the East Londoners were on level terms after the 73rd minute and it was the combination of Valencia and Downing that worked to brilliant effect again. This time, the Ecuadorian crossed for the winger to power a shot in from 15 yards to spark loud celebrations from the away end.

There were then two further chances for the East Londoners to try and grab a winner as Valencia went close twice in quick succession. Firstly, he shot from 30 yards out but the striker's effort went just past the post and he tried again shortly after, following good work from Song and Downing, but this time Begovic was on hand to save his team from going behind.

In the closing stages of the game, Adrian had to produce further stunning saves to keep his side in the contest and after three minutes of stoppage time had been signalled the Irons had managed to grab a point from being two goals down for the first time in three and half years.

Allardyce's men will hope to follow up the home victory against Manchester City last weekend with another three points as Aston Villa arrive at Upton Park next Saturday.

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