O’Brien proves his point as Hammers held


WEST HAM manager Sam Allardyce put their recovery from a goal behind to salvage a draw against Stoke down to his half-time pep talk, after the Hammers last night wasted an opportunity to go fifth in the Premier League at Upton Park.

Stoke went ahead on 13 minutes from a corner routine when striker Jonathan Walters evaded his marker, ran across goal and hit a first-time drive from 12 yards through Andy Carroll’s legs on the goal line.

The Hammers were fortunate to trail by one at half time with Steven Nzoni firing against the bar from 20 yards out, but Allardyce’s side immediately responded after the break as Joey O’Brien tapped in his first ever Premier League goal from a Gary O’Neil cross within minutes of the restart.

“The way we said to the full-backs at half-time, ‘Let’s get forward more’ was key,” said Allardyce.

“Kevin Nolan had a great chance from George McCartney and that set the stall out for us. There were several other chances that we had. We needed to finish them off because we created enough chances to win it, but we move on with another point on the board reasonably happy.”

A point leaves West Ham seventh, behind Arsenal on goal difference, while Stoke remain in 14th spot.

Kevin Nolan inspired West Ham, conducting the midfield with some intricate passing combinations but they could not find the winning goal as Stoke looked to break on the counter attack.

Matt Taylor nearly snatched the win in stoppage time but his volley was kept out by a superb reaction save from Stoke’s Asmir Begovic and the Potters stood firm for a point.

“I thought we deserved three [points] in the end, over the 90 minutes. I thought Stoke were better than us in the first half,” added Allardyce.

“We had to recover from an extremely good goal from Jon Walters. It was well worked and an extremely good finish. Having to come from 1-0 down in any Premier League game is difficult.”