Premier League
Stoke City 1-1 West Ham United 

Saturday, 18th September 2010
by Staff Writer

Scott Parker's first half strike was enough to earn West Ham their first point of the season at the Brittania Stadium this afternoon.

West Ham's vice captain gave United the lead on the half hour mark - a lead which the Hammers took into the half time break. But Stoke pulled level within two minutes of the restart through Kenwyn Jones to earn a share of the spoils.

Much had been made before the game of Avram Grant's planned absence as a result of the Jewish calendar's Day of Atonement. However his shoes were ably filled by first team coaches Paul Groves and Kevin Keen, who did an admirable job as they led United to their first Premier League point of the season.

Always a lively affair, this fixture lived up to its name with four first half bookings, two for each side. Valon Behrami was first in referee Lee Mason's notebook on 20 minutes for a foul on Jermaine Pennant before being followed by Rory Delay for Stoke four minutes later.

Carlton Cole became the third name taken when he clattered into former team mate Matthew Etherington five minutes ahead of the break and Dean Whitehead made it two each when booked in first half injury time. In stark contrast, only Danny Collins managed to find his way into referee Lee Mason's notebook after the break.

Parker - registering his second strike of the season - put the Hammers ahead on 32 minutes. Victor Obinna's free-kick led to a scramble in the six yard area and West Ham's number eight profitted from the melee by stabbing the ball home from no more than a yard out.

Frederic Piquionne went closes to adding a second goal for the Hammers when he struck the crossbar with a dipping drive from the edge of the box four minutes after Parker had given United the lead. The Hammers could also have been awarded a penalty when Ryan Shawcross clearly handled Piquonne's striker from the edge of the box - though strangely perhaps, there were no appeals from West Ham.

The second half started in the worst possible fashion when Jones - an ??8million summer signing from Sunderland - equalised with a simple header at the far post following some good work on the right flank by Jermaine Pennant less than two minutes after the restart.

Travelling Hammers fans could have been forgiven for fearing the worst at this stage, and when Stoke began to pile on the pressure a second goal for the home side was beginning to look inevitable. Jones went close to adding it when a 59th minute effort smashed against Rob Green's far post after Matthew Upson had, not for the first time this season, been beaten far too easily.

However, to their credit, the Hammers dug in and produced enough chances to win the game themselves; the lively Victor Obinna forced a great stop from Thomas Sorensen whilst both Parker and Noble also brought the best out of the veteran 'keeper.

Stoke almost grabbed a winner in the closing stages when yet another Rory Delap throw was hurled into the box; substitute Ricardo Fuller climbed highest but he saw his downward header rebound off the crossbar to safety; Rob Green had already given it up as a goal and was more surprised than anyone to see it stay out of the net.

A goal at that stage would however had been hugely unfair on west Ham, who had more than deserved a point which, hopefully, will be the kickstart this campaign has required. Next up for Avram Grant and his side is the visit of local beighbours Tottenham.

* Player comments courtesy of Hammer-on-the-Road

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Player Ratings

Robert Green
Looked shaky, was beaten more times than we actually conceded. Not many times tonight when he gave me confidence. Needs to get himself sorted quickly because he is our only realistic number one.

Lars Jacobsen
Classy display. Heard from various sources that he starts well at clubs but fades to nothing. Today he looked high quality, he was solid, never wasted possesion and didn't really give Ethers a sniff. Looks a great signing at the price.

Danny Gabbidon
Surprisingly, a good game playing out of position. He looked solid and stood up well to whatever Stoke threw at him. Just a shame he decided to announce on Twitter 24 hours before the game today that he would be playing left back.

Manuel Da Costa
Very solid in the air and showed some decent vision at times when trying to bring it out of defence. Has to be first team, this lad has some genuine class. I think it should now come down to Upson or Ben Haim to secure the spot next to him.

Matthew Upson
Looked solid, stood up well to Jones and never really made any errors. Showed some decent leadership qualities and looked comfortable next to Da Costa.

Scott Parker
Held the middle together as he always does. Scored a poacher's goal and continues to look our only major threat from centre-midfield. Our talisman, without Parker things would be looking a lot worse this season. He is the Julian Dicks of this team.

Mark Noble
Has become Mr Reliable, unfortunately this may not be a good thing. Noble is solid but has not really progressed since he became a first team player. I love the lad but I think he has been stale for a couple of years now.

Valon Behrami
Put himself about without causing too much aggro to Stoke. Took a few knocks and gave a bit back, just never looked capable of doing anything to hurt the Stoke backline. Hopefully we'll see him back to his best as he regains match fitness.

Carlton Cole
Never really a threat. Showed effort from time to time but never really caused the Stoke defence any trouble. He is good enough to warrant another two/three games as first choice forward, but the fact that he is not creating anything is very worrying.

Victor Obinna
Looks like a dangerous sword with a blunt blade. Could potentially be a deadly player but very raw. Definitely a player with real potential though and needs to be playing under a manager with discipline. Could and should be a big star of the future - hopefully with us.

Frederic Piquionne
Not a winger. Very similar player to Cole, looks ok and a very good back-up - just a shame neither of them look like scoring more than 5-10 goals this season. Still, this lad is a decent signing and we would definitely have a weaker squad without him - bit I would definitely play one or the other between him and Cole.


Radoslav Kovac
(Replaced Behrami, 52 mins) Looked pretty solid but then games against Stoke, Wolves, Blackpool etc are his bread and butter. This man will never let you down in a game against a team of limited yet physical ability.

Luis Boa Morte
(Replaced Obinna, 90+3 mins) On for a few seconds to see out time.

Marek Stech
Did not play.

James Tomkins
Did not play.

Julien Faubert
Did not play.

Pablo Barrera
Did not play.

Benni McCarthy
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Robert Green, Lars Jacobsen, Danny Gabbidon, Manuel Da Costa, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker, Mark Noble, Valon Behrami, Carlton Cole, Victor Obinna, Frederic Piquionne.

Goals: Scott Parker 32                  .

Booked: Valon Behrami 21 Carlton Cole 39        .

Sent off: None.

Stoke City: Sorensen, Huth, Shawcross, Faye, Collins, Delap, Whitehead, Pennant, Etherington, Walters, Jones.

Subs not used: Begovic, Higginbotham, Wilson, Wilkinson.

Goals: Jones (48).

Booked: Delap (24), Whitehead (45), Collins (83).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Lee Mason.

Attendance: 27,028.

Man of the Match: Manuel Da Costa.