Changes pay off for Big Sam

Sam Allardyce hailed the spirit of his West Ham United side after they recovered from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 at Stoke City.

The Hammers looked to be heading for a first defeat in four Barclays Premier League matches when goals from Victor Moses and Mame Biram Diouf either side of the break put the Potters in control.

However, a change in formation to a diamond and the introduction of substitute Carlton Cole changed the course of the game. First, Enner Valencia converted Stewart Downing's right-wing cross with a fantastic diving header before the pair switched roles for Downing to fire in the equaliser 17 minutes from time.

It could have all been so different were it not for Adrian, too, as the Spaniard produced outstanding saves to deny Diouf on the stroke of half-time and Steven N'Zonzi at 2-1 and Geoff Cameron at 2-2.

Big Sam admitted his team had not produced the same level of performance as they had in recent weeks, but was proud of the way they did not give up and ultimately collected a point for their efforts.

"I think there is no doubt about it and we won't pull the wool over anybody's eyes - certainly in the first half we were second best," said the manager.

"There were reasons for that and they were one, we didn't adjust to the conditions which were windy, blustery and a bobbly pitch. Two, we tried to get our passing game going but Stoke weren't letting us and three, in the end, we didn't adapt to the way the game needed to be played.

"In the end, it was all about changing the system and the way we played and getting the subs on. Losing Winston Reid to a thigh injury we couldn't help, but the other two subs were tactical and they helped us to change the shape of the team, get Stewart in the hole and get two up top.

"Once we did that, we finally came up with the sort of quality we have seen many, many times this year with the crossing leading to two goals. The first from Stewart led to a terrific header from Enner Valencia and the second saw Enner repay the compliment by beating the full-back on the left-hand side, pull it back and Downing used his beautiful right foot to put it in the back of the net.

"We didn't miss Diafra Sakho because we scored two goals. We haven't played as well as we'd have liked, but when you come back from 2-0 down away from home and get a point at a place like Stoke, we never let our heads go down and our quality got us back in the game."

In the first half, Valencia was nullified by Stoke's centre-halves in a lone striker role. However, the introduction of Cole at half-time and the switch to a diamond formation turned the game on its head.

"Stoke played very well with Diouf up front and he is a similar size to Enner, but their service was better than ours in the first half.

"We changed it and if it's not going well it's my job to use the experience I have got and change it. I decided to throw caution to the wind with two up front and see whether Stoke could cope with it.

"If they couldn't, we'd get back into the game and that's exactly what happened."

While West Ham did concede two goals, Adrian and an all-action display from James Collins helped to prevent the damage being even worse and made the rousing comeback possible.

"It was either going to be 3-0 to them or 2-2 because at 2-0 down there was no point sitting back and playing the way we had been playing. It opened more spaces up for Stoke, but it turned the game in our favour rather than theirs."

The manager revealed that Reid suffered a thigh injury in a first-half clash with N'Zonzi that was 'not too serious', praising his replacement James Tomkins for helping the Hammers to withstand Stoke's onslaught in the opening 60 minutes.

"James Tomkins came on and was very good indeed. Him and Ginge had to deal with a lot from the Stoke front three and those two and the goalie were very good when they were under lots and lots of pressure. They helped us achieve a very precious point.

"I did feel we were a little complacent in the early part because we didn't start with the edge needed to baffle the opposition and tell them they were going to be in for a game.

"We didn't earn the right to play, but we carried on and never gave up and we had enough quality in the team and have now scored 19 goals in ten games.

"We thought we might miss our leading goalscorer, but we haven't because we've scored two very good goals.

"Everywhere else, we weren't on our top form but the point we got was very, very precious."

With Arsenal winning at Burnley, West Ham dropped to fifth in the table after Saturday's draw on goal difference, but have a chance to regain a top-four place when they host Aston Villa next Saturday at 3pm.