STOKE CITY FC 1 WEST HAM UNITED 1
It may have been a reaction to Monday night's heroics, or it may be that subconsciously some were feeling that we just had to turn up to collect the points.Whatever, several players were distinctly below par in the first half on Saturday. We contrived to make a poor West ham side look better than they actually are.
Once again we fell behind, again to a goal which had an element of farce about it.A West Ham freekick just in from the corner flag caused mayhem in our goalmouth.Rory Delap,on the goal line ,put in a clearing kick,only to see the ball, for the second time this season strike the unfortunate Ryan Shawcross in the face in a crucial area,deflect across goal to Scott Parker,who hooked the ball into the net.The Hammers and their fans could scarcely believe their luck.For our part we had none....well not much anyway.Sure Piquionne hit our bar with keeper Sorensen well beaten,but so too a less than confident Green in the West Ham goal fumbled early and could only watch as Huth's resultant effort struck his post to rebound away.
The second half saw Stoke in charge. Just after the restart Walters played a ball down the right to Pennant.Although he was at full pace to catch the ball,he produced a wonderful cross which Kenwyne Jones had no trouble heading in for a splendid equaliser.Stoke then turned up the gas further.Jones it was again, leaving Upson in his wake as he cut in from the left.His brilliant shot across goal was heading for the net until the flying Green managed to get finger tips to it,the ball deflecting onto the post and away.Another effort by sub Ricardo Fuller came back off the bar with the West Ham players beaten.
Stoke had enough chances to win the game......a good sign with our forward players looking really dangerous at times.....and on another day might have scored four!
The downside? Three key new forward players picked up injuries.Kenwynne Jones has a groin strain,Jon Walters an ankle problem,and the influential Jermaine Pennant has a hamstring problem.
The upside? For me, a much better showing in the second half,four points on the board for the week, which we would probably have taken last Sunday night!The other two would have made quite a difference in terms of position in the league table,but then its early days.
Eidur Gudjohnsen did come on to a tremendous reception from the crowd,though he clearly has some way to go on the fitness (and weight?)front,before he's up to speed.