Date: 17th March 2014 at 12:14pm
Written by: Matt Forrester

Stoke City continued their good run of form and produced one of their best performances of the season in a comfortable 3-1 victory over West Ham.

The Hammers themselves came into the match in confident mood and this was evident early on as they took the lead. A long free kick into the area gave Andy Carroll the opportunity to attack the ball and an uncharacteristic misjudgment by Asmir Begovic left the goal open for Carroll to power home.

Stephen Ireland had a great chance to level the scores almost immediately after the restart, but he scuffed his shot and Adrian pushed the ball around the post. The Potters suffered another setback after 14 minutes when the dependable Pieters had to be replaced by Mark Muniesa.

But the Potters did manage to draw level in the 32nd minute when Peter Crouch rose highest only to see his header came back off the bar, he reacted quickest to poke out one of his long legs and his effort hit Odemwingie on the line to level the scores.

Into the second half and with the game still in the balance West Ham felt they were denied a penalty when Muniesa appeared to handle a cross whilst being pressured by Carroll. But ref Craig Pawson waved away their protests. Another chance came for the threatening Carroll, but he was denied by an excellent Begovic save this time.

Then in the 69th minute the mercurial Arnautovic delivered for the Potters following a lovely flowing passing move involving Whelan, Cameron and Odemwingie the ball fell to the Austrian on the edge of the box, who jinked his way through a couple of challenges and placed his shot low into the corner of the net.

It was Arnautovic’s first goal since his free kick at Old Trafford and his first at the Britannia. This helped to lift the tension around the stands and Stoke’s play reflected this, they were now playing some lovely football.

In the 79th minute the game was put to bed. A brave header from Shawcross set Ireland on the break and he played in Odemwingie who fired a thunderous shot into the roof of the net for his second of the game. It showed exactly why Mark Hughes had brought in the Nigerian from Cardiff whose pace and finishing was exactly what was lacking earlier on in the season.

Stoke were enjoying themselves now and Arnautovic with in-particular producing several fine pieces of skill and the Potters in truth had chances for another couple of goals, but it wasn’t to be. A good win moved Stoke into the top half for a few hours before next weeks opponents Aston Villa reclaimed that spot. But overall a good win that leaves Stoke just a couple of wins from securing safety again.