Matthew Upson's brave header was not quite enough as West Ham United fell to a battling 2-1 Barclays Premier League defeat at Stoke City.
The England defender, sporting a nasty gash to his face after being caught by a stray boot, rose highest to nod past Thomas Sorensen after James Beattie had earlier given the Potters the lead from the penalty spot.
Beattie then added insult to injury by scoring a barely-deserved winner with 22 minutes remaining.
Upson's goal, his second of the season after an opening-day header down the M6 at Wolverhampton Wanderers, was the highlight of a spirited, encouraging display from Gianfranco Zola's side, who will feel hard done-by after more than matching their hosts in front of a 27,206-strong Britannia Stadium crowd.
Stoke started the better, forcing two early corners before taking the lead through former England striker Beattie on eleven minutes.
The 31-year-old slammed an emphatic spot-kick into the roof of the net after ex-West Ham winger Matty Etherington appeared to be clipped by Julien Faubert as he latched on to Ricardo Fuller's back-heel.
Having gone ahead, Stoke continued to press, and it needed strong defending from Upson and central defensive partner James Tomkins, who threw himself in front of a goalbound Etherington shot, to repel the hosts.
West Ham gradually worked their way back into the game, with Carlton Cole and Mark Noble working particularly hard in attacking third. That work paid off eleven minutes before half-time.
Upson, who had earlier received lengthy treatment after being caught by Ryan Shawcross's right boot, showed no ill-effects to power the visitors level from Noble's teasing left-wing corner.
The defender timed his run and jump to perfection, arriving late in the penalty area after not initially realising that Shawcross's clearance had gone out for a corner and not a throw-in, losing marker Abdoulaye Faye and heading past a poorly-positioned Sorensen.
West Ham kept up the momentum after half-time, with Alessandro Diamanti twice testing Sorensen with well-struck shots from the edge of the 18-yard box, first after latching on to Cole's pass, then by creating space by spinning away from Salif Diao.
Cole then went close himself, latching on to Behrami's through-ball, only to see his shot blocked by the covering Shawcross.
The visitors continued to press hard, but it was Tony Pulis's side who would score the game's decisive third goal, with Beattie again on target.
The Lancashire-born striker was the quickest to react, sliding the ball in from close range after Robert Green had parried Fuller's low shot into his path.
There was controversy soon after the goal when Huth appeared to catch Upson in the face as the pair waited in the home penalty area to challenge for a Diamanti free-kick, re-opening the wound the 30-year-old had suffered before the break.
Zola sent on newly-capped England Under-21 striker Zavon Hines and Mexico forward Guille Franco in search of a second equaliser and, although West Ham finished much the stronger of the two teams, they were unable to find a way past Sorensen.
Stoke City: Sorensen, Huth, Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Collins, Delap (Lawrence 68), Diao (Whelan 78), Whitehead, Etherington, Fuller, Beattie (Kitson 84)
Subs not used: Simonsen, Wilkinson, Higginbotham, Tuncay
West Ham United: Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Behrami, Kovac (Stanlislas 82), Noble, Collison (Franco 89), Diamanti (Hines 78), Cole
Subs not used: Kurucz, Spector, Da Costa, Jimenez