Every Hammer in the land will be praying that our lads can replicate their previous home performance against Stoke. The last time these two clubs locked horns, the East Londoners played completely out of their skins and made Stoke look second rate. Not only was it West Ham’s second home win in a week (in an otherwise dismal season), they managed to crawl out of the dreaded drop-zone.
First-half goals to Demba Ba and Manuel da Costa and a late second-half Thomas Hitzlsperger rocket secured the valuable three points for the Hammers. Despite West Ham’s bright start to the game, dictated by possession and fluent passing, Stoke had the first chance of the match. West Ham ‘keeper Robert Green was on his game to deny Irishman Jon Walters. The Hammers grabbed the opener after a dreadful mix-up at the heart of the Stoke defence. Marc Wilson and ‘keeper Asmir Begovic weren’t on the same page and gifted Ba an empty net. The red-hot Senegalese made no mistake, scoring his fourth goal in three league starts.
West Ham added another goal eight minutes later when a Hitzlsperger free-kick found an unmarked da Costa at the far post. The Portuguese big man duly headed the ball home. It could’ve been three for the home side before the break as Hitzlsperger and Fredric Piquionne both went close. The injection of former Hammer Matthew Etherington and Kenwyne Jones added some spark for the visitors, but the home side continued to up-the-ante.
Although Stoke had a decent chance, the rout was complete when Stoke failed to clear a Piquionne shot. Hitzlsperger lived up to his “Der Hammer” nickname and blasted the ball into the roof of the net. It was a pleasant day for the home fans as West Ham held on for a rare clean sheet and secured backto-back home league wins for the first time since April 2010.
West Ham: Green, Tomkins, Upson, da Costa, Bridge, Parker (Gabbidon 90+3), Hitzlsperger, Noble, Cole (Obinna 86), Ba (O’Neil 82), Piquionne
Stoke: Begovic, Huth, Shawcross, Whelan, Wilson, Pugh, Pennant (Etherington 51), Whitehead, Delapr (Jones 68), Walters, Carew (Fuller 65)
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