Parker earns precious point

Scott Parker's third goal in four matches helped West Ham United pick up their first point of the Barclays Premier League season courtesy of a 1-1 draw at Stoke City.

The in-form Hammer of the Year prodded home from close-range after Carlton Cole and Matthew Upson had worked hard to keep the ball alive from Victor Obinna's right-wing free-kick on 32 minutes.

Frederic Piquionne came within inches of doubling the visitors' advantage at the Britannia Stadium two minutes later, only for his wicked 25-yard effort to cannon to safety off Thomas Sorensen's crossbar.

The Dane was also called into action twice in quick succession midway through the second half, turning aside a shot from Obinna before clawing Manuel da Costa's downward header out as it flew towards his bottom left-hand corner.

Sorensen's good work was rewarded by Kenwyne Jones three minutes after half-time. The Trinidad and Tobago striker, whose height and aerial ability caused problems for the West Ham rearguard all afternoon, out-jumped Da Costa to power Jermaine Pennant's inch-perfect cross into the net from no more than two yards.

Jones might even have won the game for the Potters, only for Robert Green to show his international class by turning the forward's fiercely-hit shot onto the inside of his far post.

Green's 59th-minute save was just one of three occasions on which Stoke hit the woodwork. Much earlier, before Parker's opener, Robert Huth took advantage of a handling error to slam a shot against the upright from an acute angle. Then, with just eight minutes remaining, substitute Ricardo Fuller sent a header bouncing off the underside of the crossbar from Rory Delap's rapier-like throw-in.

Delap's missiles, along with a succession of free-kicks and corners taken by Pennant and former Hammer Matthew Etherington, rained onto Green's penalty area, but the goalkeeper and his team-mates - notably strikers Carlton Cole and Piquionne - stood firm in the face of the aerial barrage to earn a much-needed point.

With manager Avram Grant - and centre-back Tal Ben Haim - absent from the Britannia Stadium as they honoured the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, senior coach Paul Groves handled the media duties following the final whistle.

Meanwhile, goalscorer and Sky Sports man of the match Parker was naturally delighted to help his team get off the mark for 2010/11.

"We controlled the game in the first half and probably deservedly went one-nil up. In the second half, we knew they were going to come at us, which they did.

"We can take huge positives out of today. We have come here, they have put us under immense pressure and we have defended really well. We have got a point and it is much needed.

"It is always going to be difficult when the manager is not there. We all understand the circumstances. That is football. We have just got on with it and got the result which is good.

"It is a platform for us to build on. We have got off to a bad start and come here low in confidence. We can leave high in confidence and take a lot of positives. We look forward to Tottenham."