16.04. - Match Reports
Andy Carroll’s last minute volley denied relegation-haunted Stoke City a massive three points in a 1-1 draw at the London Stadium.
Stoke went into the game at the London Stadium desperate for the win after the weekend’s results left them six points adrift of Swansea in the final position of safety with just five games remaining.
And, the Potters thought they had cut the gap to just three when Crouch stepped off the substitutes’ bench to put them in front with just 11 minutes remaining.
But they were denied a crucial victory in the 90th minute when West Ham’s own super-sub Carroll rescued David Moyes’ men a share of the spoils with an impressive strike.
The point leaves Stoke five points off 17th with the games running out, while the Hammers are close to safety as they move on to 35 points – seven clear of the drop zone.
In a lively opening, West Ham had the first effort of the night after just three minutes when Arthur Masuaka latched on to a Pablo Zabaleta ball into the box and forced Jack Butland into a save from an acute angle.
Stoke responded and went straight up the opposite end of the field with Xherdan Shaqiri playing in Ramadan Sobhi who beat Angelo Ogbonna for pace and fired into the body of Joe Hart from 20 yards.
Both sides continued to press for an early goal and West Ham went close on 17 minutes when former Stoke man Marko Arnautovic won a free-kick 35 yards from goal but Aaron Cresswell’s subsequent powerful effort was parried away by Butland.
Arnautovic then fired wide of the Stoke upright just after the half-hour, before Potters hitman Mame Biram Diouf hit an effort straight at Hart on 33 minutes.
The game continued to move from end-to-end as Butland pulled off a save which he didn’t know too much about three minutes later when Arnautovic met a Zabaleta pull-back in the middle of the area and hammered his shot into the face of the visiting keeper.
Arnautovic thought he had put the Hammers ahead 10 minutes into the second half when the Austrian got on the end of Cresswell’s ball behind the Stoke defence and beat Butland only for the assistant’s flag to be raised for offside.
The Hammers were dominant at this stage and were again denied by the referee’s assistant on 66 minutes when Edmilson Fernandes’ effort from the edge of the area beat Butland, but his view was obstructed by Arnautovic as the ball went through his legs while he was stood a couple of yards offside.
Three minutes later Cresswell tried his luck from 25 yards only to be denied by Butland who palmed his effort, which also took a deflection off Joe Allen, wide with a fine save.
Despite the constant pressure from the hosts, it was Stoke who took the lead against the run of play on 79 minutes.
Shaqiri did enough to work an opening on the edge of the area and his left-foot strike was not held by Hart and Crouch pounced to stab the ball into the net from close-range.
West Ham piled the pressure on in the final 10 minutes and were finally rewarded in the 90th minute when Carroll met the cross of Creswell and beat Butland with a delicious volley from just inside the area.
Javier Hernandez thought he had snatched the win for the hosts in the second minute of stoppage time but referee Michael Oliver had already blown his whistle for a foul by Carroll on Ryan Shawcross when the Mexican found the net from inside the box.