Stoke suffered a rare home defeat after Diego Tristan`s splendid free-kick was enough for West Ham to take maximum points from the Potteries. The Spaniard, who scored a late winner in the reverse fixture in December, struck a beautiful effort that flew into the top corner. Chances for Stoke were hard to come by as they endured a frustrating afternoon.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis made two alterations to the team that went down last weekend at Fulham. James Beattie returned to the first team alongside Andy Wilkinson, making way were Richard Cresswell and loan star Stephen Kelly. The hammers were without top scorer Carlton Cole and Kieran Dyer but were able to call upon Radoslav Kovac and Diego Tristan in their place.
Stoke hit the ground running as West Ham keeper Robert Green was kept busy as he clung onto Ryan Shawcross`s flick off a Rory Delap throw. The visitors also had in its defence England centre-back Matthew Upson, subject of a move to many top clubs, and youngster James Tompkins who looks like another great future prospect.
Stoke thought that their early bombardment on the visitors goal had paid off. Another Delap throw was launched in towards Green`s area but he was beaten in the air by Ricardo Fuller. The Jamaican reacted quickest as he bundled the ball over the line before wheeling off in celebration. Unfortunately though referee Peter Walton believed that Fuller had obstructed Green in his attempts to catch the ball and gave a free-kick to the Hammers.
Things evened themselves out though minutes later as West Ham suffered the same fate as Stoke. This time ref Walton deemed that David Di Michele controlled the ball with his arm before placing the ball beyond Sorensen much to his and his team-mates dismay.
The Potters most clear cut chance of the first half fell to Captain Abdoulaye Faye after 18mins. The former Bolton star steamed into the box to get on the end of Liam Lawrence`s corner but blazed his header high over the bar from 6yrds, although he should have done much better his sight was slightly obstructed by Shawcross in front.
After surviving the early goings, West Ham went and scored the decisive goal of the game after 33mins. A free-kick 25yrds out was sized up by Diego Tristan, the former Deportivo striker who scored a last minute winner in the infamous game at Upton Park struck his free-kick into the top corner giving Sorensen no chance.
His strike partner Di Michele almost doubled the lead moments later but some poor finishing on his part saw the ball fly over Sorensen and the bar. 5million pound winger Luis Boa-Morte was next to go close for the visitors as he struck a long range attempt narrowly wide.
The Stoke players then began to grow frustrated and were lucky not to be reduced to ten men after Delap kicked out at Boa-Morte. Some stupidity on the Irishman`s part and poor acting by Boa-Morte earned both yellow cards. Also booked was Liam Lawrence as he was accused of diving after taking a tumble in the West Ham penalty box.
The second period started slowly as both teams were trying to settle. Rory Delap spurned a decent chance as he shot hideously wide from 20yrds after finding himself in acres of space. Ricardo Fuller also saw an effort fly harmlessly wide as he battled bravely to get things moving for the Potters.
Disappointingly the Potters were unable to play with the same fluency as the first half and struggled to cause the Hammers rearguard any kind of problem. This bought about the first change for Stoke as Olofinjana replaced Danny Pugh and James Beattie was taken off and replaced by Henri Camara.
These changes drove Stoke forward in their search for an equaliser and skipper Abdoulaye Faye came within whiskers of finding it. Again it was one of Lawrence`s corner`s that proved too much for the Londoners as Faye met the ball and guided it back across goal towards the top corner. With the ball destined for the net it was only drastic defending from Mark Noble that prevented the score from reading 1-1.
Stoke piled forward and Ricardo Fuller came closest in the dying moments as he blazed over from 8yrds. The result leaves Stoke 13th in the table and 8points clear of Middlesbrough, after defeats for Blackburn, Portsmouth and West Brom the results fell kindly for the Potters. Next up they face a difficult trip up north to face Hull.
Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson (Sonko 88), Abdoulaye Faye (c), Shawcross, Pugh (Olofinjana 72), Lawrence, Whelan, Delap, Etherington, Beattie (Camara 72), Fuller. Subs not used: Simonsen, Kelly, Tonge, Cresswell.
West Ham: Green, Neill, Tompkins, Upson (c), Ilunga, Stanislas, Noble (Lopez 87), Kovac, Boa-Morte (Collison 82), Tristan, Di Michele (Sears 90). Subs not used: Lastuvka, Spector, Payne, Hines.