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  • Collison goal breaks 2013 away duck

Collison goal breaks 2013 away duck

Jack Collison struck in first half stoppage time to fire the Hammers to a priceless three points at Stoke City on Saturday.

Collison, on as an early substitute for the injured Matt Taylor, finished following a slick pass from his fellow sub Ricardo Vaz Te.

The Hammers held Stoke at arm's length for the vast majority of the Britannia Stadium contest and only Charlie Adam's final minute volley, which thudded against the bar, caused them any alarm.

It was the Hammers' first away win of 2013 and provided the perfect tonic following the heartbreak of last minute defeat earlier in the week.

Having already lost skipper Kevin Nolan to injury in the week, Hammers boss Sam Allardyce was forced into a major reshuffle of his midfield with just 11 minutes played at the Britannia Stadium.

Taylor, Nolan's replacement in the starting XI, was forced off with a head injury after receiving a boot to the head when Peter Crouch went for an overhead kick, while Joe Cole limped out of the action after the same phase of play.

With 25 minutes on the clock the Hammers were a mere whisker away from taking the lead when Gary O'Neil's left wing corner was only cleared back to him, and his second cross was flicked onto the top of the crossbar by James Collins with Asmir Begovic struggling.

Collison then had a half chance as the away side again picked up the second ball from a set piece, but his right-footed shot from 25 yards was directed straight at Begovic.

EIght minutes before the break the best piece of football in the half produced the best chance thus far but Andy Carroll couldn't get the right contact on his header from a Guy Demel cross and the ball dribbled wide.

Stoke were barely able to create anything in the first 45 minutes and Michael Kightly's harmless drive from the edge of the box on 43 was the best they could muster.

By contrast, the Hammers gave themselves the perfect lift in first half stoppage time when Vaz Te picked up the pieces after Carroll was dragged down on the edge of the box by Ryan Shawcross and fed Collison, who finished unerringly into the bottom left hand corner.

Vaz Te was involved again at the start of the second period, collecting a flick-on from Carroll before threading a ball to Matt Jarvis, whose shot was blocked by the legs of Begovic.

Stoke broke from the resulting corner and Jussi Jaaskelainen was called into action for the first time, diving to his left to cling onto a Crouch shot.

Stoke looked to their subs Brek Shea, Kenwyne Jones and Adam as they tried to wrestle some attacking impetus, but 12 minutes from time it was the Hammers who had the chance to wrap it up when Vaz Te exchanged passes with Collison and tip-toed around goalkeeper Begovic only for a challenge to come in from a defender to save the day for the hosts.

Stoke struggled to attack with any penetration, yet they were still only inches away from levelling up in the final minute when Adam's super 25-yard shot cannonned off the crossbar and away to safety, much to the Hammers' relief.

West Ham survived that moment of panic, giving their travelling band of over 2,000 fans a very happy journey home.

Stoke City: Begovic; Shotton, Shawcross, Wilson, Wilkinson; Walters (Jones 74), Nzonzi, Whelan (Adam 77), Kightly (Shea 66); Jerome, Crouch
Subs: Sorensen (GK), Cameron, Palacios, Whitehead

West Ham United: Jaaskelainen; Demel, Collins, Reid, O'Brien; O'Neil; J.Cole (Vaz Te 11), Taylor (Collison 11), Diame, Jarvis (Pogatetz 83); Carroll
Subs: Spiegel (GK), C.Cole, Maiga, Chamakh

Goal: Collison 45+3

Booked: Collins, Carroll

Referee: Jonathan Moss

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