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WEST HAM manager David Moyes seemed happier to get a point out of this keenly fought encounter last night than his opposite number Paul Lambert.
“The important thing was not to lose,” Moyes declared, going on to say that “this was one of the best performances we have had here.”
The Hammers boss appears happy to secure the club’s Premier League status a point at a time, setting his target at 40 points, though none present last night will have come away happy, given that a win here could probably have secured that status for another year.
One of the biggest culprits last night was goalkeeper Joe Hart, who spilled the ball to allow Stoke to take the lead.
The former Manchester City stopper will have done his World Cup prospects no favours with this performance in front of watching England manager Gareth Southgate.
Moyes defended his goalkeeper before explaining how he had said well done to him after the previous game-saving performance against Chelsea but told him this time he “should have done better with that one.”
While Hart turned out to be the villain of the evening, the hero was Andy Carroll who, coming on for the last 10 minutes, scored the equaliser and set up what looked like the winner from Javier Hernandez before it was ruled out for offside by referee Michael Oliver.
There were no complaints though from Moyes, who saw three goals ruled out by the referee, while there was more than a hint of offside in the Stoke strike.
“The referee got the decisions right,” said Moyes.
The game had started in a fairly pedestrian way, causing some to wonder whether they were in a parallel universe where the two sides were already safe, with the players thinking of the beach.
Hart was the busier of the two keepers, fielding a couple of long shots in the first half.
Things warmed up in the second, first a Marko Arnautovic header being ruled offside, then an Edimilson Fernandez shot from 20 yards similarly ruled out because Arnaoutovic was offside and blocking the goalkeeper’s vision.
Stoke struck in the 77th minute, when West Ham failed to clear the ball. Xherdan Shaqiri found space for a drive from the edge of the penalty area, which Hart spilled to the onrushing Peter Crouch, who finished with ease.
Enter Carroll, who got on the end of an Aaron Cresswell cross to side foot home. The big striker then set up Hernandez, but the goal was ruled out because Carroll was ruled to have fouled the defender.
Stoke manager Lambert felt lady luck was not on his team’s side.
“If we keep playing like that we will win games. If we’d played like that since August, I wouldn’t be here and the club wouldn’t be where they are,” he said.
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