It was never going to be easy for West Ham United at Stoke City on Saturday, as the Hammers last win on the road came at Newcastle United on November 11, and Stoke’s only loss at home was against Chelsea.
After 10 minutes, West Ham’s task was made even harder, as Joe Cole came off with a hamstring and Mat Taylor with concussion, after a sickening boot in the face from Peter Crouch.
But this early setback seemed to galvanize the team from East London. Apart from two dubious penalty claims, West Ham’s defence gave Stoke no real opportunities, and it was the substitutes that gave West Ham a priceless lead before half-time, when Ricardo Vaz Te and Jack Collinson linked up.
Vaz Te broke at pace and delivered a wonderful reverse pass to the feet of Collinson, who drilled it low and hard beyond Asmir Begovic.
The bitter irony of a Welshman scoring on St David’s day weekend would not have gone unnoticed by Collinson’s compatriot, Tony Pullis, the Stoke manager.
Apart from a Charlie Adam shot which hit the bar in the last minute, West Ham was rarely troubled, and held on for a priceless win. This was a win that moves West Ham on to 33 points with Stoke, but more importantly, nine away from the relegation places.
West Ham has two weeks to get their injured players back, as next Saturday’s game has been postponed, owing to Manchester United still being involved in the FA Cup.