Pennant free-kick beats Hammers

West Ham United's unbeaten start to the Barclays Premier League season went up in smoke at home to Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.

The Hammers were subdued as they tried to make it back-to-back home wins at the start of the new campaign, and Mark Hughes' Stoke side took advantage.

Jermaine Pennant's free kick eight minutes from the end made the difference, as Stoke became the first side to score past the Hammers in the league this term.

West Ham rarely offered a serious threat at the other end and could have few complaints over the result at the end.

Stoke were the team showing the greater intent early on and Kenwyne Jones created a chance for himself with ten minutes on the clock when he outmuscled Winston Reid just inside the Hammers half to set a run in motion. As he neared the penalty area it looked as though he would be able to get a clear shot away, but James Collins tracked back superbly to pressurise the away striker and force his eventual effort off target.

Four minutes later Mark Noble gave away a free kick 25 yards from goal and Jussi Jaaskelainen showed good hands to gather Charlie Adam's shot as it bounced just in front of him.

The biggest moment of danger in the first half arrived with 22 minutes played when Marc Wilson's volley from the edge of the box swerved and dipped on Jaaskelainen, meaning he could not gather cleanly, and the Finn had to spring back up sharply to deny Jonathan Walters on the rebound.

Stoke were enjoying the better of the possession and territory as the Hammers struggled to move the ball at a tempo.

Modibo Maiga still had a presentable chance to nod the Hammers into a 34th minute lead when he pulled off Ryan Shawcross to meet a Matt Jarvis cross, but he failed the hit the target from close range and Stoke survived that scare.

West Ham needed to improve in the second half, and they did do a better job of keeping a handle on their visitors in the third quarter as chances at both ends were restricted to those of a long range variety.

Steven 'Zonzi and Wilson both fired off target from outside the box for the visitors, while Reid could not control a header for the Hammers following a floated Collins free kick from deep, with the ball passing over the top.

Reid was involved again on 70 minutes, volleying over the top after a corner from the left was only partially cleared.

The Hammers looked to be edging towards a third clean sheet in succession, but a foul by Mo Diame on Glenn Whelan on the edge of the box eight minutes from time gave Stoke the chance to end the hosts' unblemished defensive record.

Pennant stepped up to take the free kick and found the net to Jaaskelainen's left, sending West Ham off on the international break on a sour note.

West Ham United: Jaaskelainen; Demel, Collins, Reid, O'Brien; Nolan, Noble (Collison 84), Diame (Lee 88); Downing (Morrison 64), Maiga, Jarvis
Subs: Adrian, Tomkins, Rat, Taylor

Booked: Reid, Collins

Stoke City: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters; Wilson, 'Zonzi; Etherington (Pennant 76), Adam (Whelan 76), Walters; Jones
Subs: Sorensen, Muniesa, Assaidi, Crouch, Jerome

Goal: Pennant 82

Booked: Cameron

Attendance: 34,946

Referee: Jon Moss