Hammers left frustrated but come away with point
By Tom Dowsett
Tuesday 17 Apr 2018 13:48:00
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Having dropped to fifteenth in the Premier League table over the weekend, West Ham United moved back up to fourteenth after a late equaliser earnt them a point in a 1-1 draw with Stoke City in Stratford on Monday night.

Despite being substituted due to injury at Stamford Bridge, Aaron Cresswell had recovered in time to face the Potters, meaning David Moyes decided to go with the same team that drew with Antonio Conte's men last time out. Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll were included amongst the substitutes after their respective injuries. James Collins had not recovered from a hamstring problem in time to make the squad.

This was another crucial game for the Hammers and having come away from West London with an unexpected result, they were keen to further boost their survival hopes and they could have gone ahead early on but Arthur Masuaku's early effort was saved by Jack Butland.

Having scored against his former club in the reverse fixture last December, Marko Arnautovic was next to test the goalkeeper soon after.

In an open start to the game, Joe Hart did well to keep out Moritz Bauer after he was well set up by Xherdan Shaqiri, while the Manchester City loanee also prevented Mame Biram Diouf from opening the scoring.

Arnautovic was forming a great partnership with João Mário and the Brazilian played his teammate in but the travelling fans were delighted to see his effort go inches wide.

That wasn't going to stop him though, as the winger seemed determined to deepen the gloom for his former club but he failed to beat Butland again, as the England international was in the right place to stop him.

A minute of stoppage time was added before referee Michael Oliver brought a cagey first-half to a close with the deadlock still to be broken.

Both teams were still trying to make the breakthrough at the start of the second-half and on 55 minutes, Cresswell's cross was met by Arnautovic, who headed past Butland but the cheers from the home faithful were short lived as the effort was ruled out for offside.

Stoke nearly went in front themselves seconds later when Bauer crossed the ball into the box for Diouf but he sent his effort horribly wide when it seemed easier to score.

Having seen their opponents waste a good opportunity, the hosts went on the attack with Cresswell having an effort cleared by the visiting defence before the former Ipswich Town defender crossed again and found captain Mark Noble but unfortunately for the Irons, his curling effort was also blocked.

Edimilson Fernandes thought he had claimed his long-awaited first league goal for the club just after the hour but again the linesman raised his flag.

The home side certainly weren't dispirited by a second goal being disallowed, as they kept going and minutes later, Butland made a flying save to deny Cresswell.

On 75 minutes, Moyes decided to make his first change, as Javier Hernández replaced Fernandes.

Having seen two earlier efforts ruled out, the worst fears of the majority inside the stadium were realised three minutes later when Shaqiri sent in a shot from the edge of the box which Hart couldn't hold and substitute Peter Crouch knocked in the rebound to have the travelling fans dreaming of a first win since January.

This was a game that the Irons couldn't afford to lose, so on 80 minutes a second change was made, as Lanzini was introduced in place of Masuaku.

A further four minutes had passed before a final change was made for the hosts, as Carroll replaced Mário.

On his return from injury in January, the former Liverpool striker scored two goals to deny West Bromwich Albion victory and he did the same to the Potters here with thirty seconds of normal time to play. Cresswell set him up and he smashed the ball into the net and for once, Oliver allowed the goal to stand!

The Hammers thought they had secured successive home wins in the four minutes of added time that were signalled by the fourth official when Hernández fired past a helpless Butland however, Oliver again intervened and in the end both teams were made to settle for a draw.

After a difficult night under the lights, the hosts were glad to get something out of the contest as they now head into two difficult looking fixtures starting with a London derby away at Arsenal on Sunday.

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