West Ham United 0-0 Stoke City

Barclays Premier League
West Ham United 0-0 Stoke City 

West Ham United were held to an entertaining goalless draw by Stoke City on Saturday, a third successive Barclays Premier League stalemate at the Boleyn Ground. 

Ibrahim Affelay caused the Hammers a headache before the interval and it was his enterprise that presented Marco van Ginkel with a gilt-edged chance in the 12th minute, one that he promptly squandered. 

Michail Antonio, on his full debut, went close for the Hammers, but, like Cheikhou Kouyate before him, was foiled by the fists of Jack Butland. Marko Arnautovic struck the crossbar late on with a free-kick, while Mame Biram Diouf was twice brilliantly denied by the excellent Adrian.   

For the hosts, Mauro Zarate’s drive cannoned off the outside of the upright, while James Tomkins and Kouyate both saw efforts cleared off the line in a frantic finale.  

Following his first-half introduction at Old Trafford, Antonio was handed his first Barclays Premier League start here and a debut outing at the Boleyn Ground to boot. 

Elsewhere, in the absence of the sidelined Winston Reid, James Collins returned to the heart of the Hammers’ back four.     

With the game less than three minutes old, Kouyate forced Jack Butland into an early stop, beating away the Senegal man’s rasping 25-yard drive. 

From the resulting corner Antonio tried his luck from a similar spot, but this time Butland gathered comfortably enough. 

At the other end, Afellay was running amok down the right, thrice creating chances. His first foray ended with a wicked ball into the middle. Adrian was uncertain and when van Ginkel dangled a leg, he caught the ‘keeper, not the ball. The Spaniard was soon back to his feet. 

The Dutchman then wriggled to the by-line only to be denied by an outstretched Adrian boot. The third was a golden chance. After Angelo Ogbonna had blocked Afellay’s centre, van Ginkel should have scored, or at the very least hit the target. But, from eight yards, he dragged it horribly wide. Afellay was furious.    

Stoke’s No14 tried to take matters into his own hands and his 20-yarder cannoned into James Collins as it ballooned over the bar. 

West Ham, meanwhile, huffed and puffed. Antonio turned smartly out on the right-hand touchline but was eventually crowded out as he strode into the 18-yard box. 

As the half-hour mark neared, the Potters went closer to still. Again, down the right, the familiar figure of Glen Johnson squared for Arnautovic, who, having scored a last-gasp equaliser here last term, side-footed wide of the near post. 

After Erik Pieters had cynically felled Kouyate, the resulting free-kick caused chaos in the visitors’ box. Collins tried, once, twice and even a third time to fire goalward, but neither he nor Kouyate could do so cleanly.      

Then, in first-half stoppage time, Song played in Aaron Cresswell down the left, who, in turn, slid a devilish ball across the face. Antonio slid in at the near post but, via a combination of the former Nottingham Forest and a Stoke intervention, over it went.        

The Hammers won an early corner after the break and, though Collins looked favourite for it, it skipped beyond the Welshman and Ryan Shawcross was relieved to nod it behind. 

Moments later and Carroll craned his neck to nod Zarate’s left-wing centre toward goal. Though it looked to be drifting just wide, Butland was taking no chances and palmed it away for another corner. 

West Ham looked the most likely. Antonio took advantage of Stoke indecision to test Butland, but the England stopper was equal to it, beating it out of harm’s way. 

With 63 on the clock, the Boleyn Ground was greeted with the refreshing sight of Enner Valencia on the touchline. The Ecuadorean, having come a cropper against Everton, replaced Song, as the hosts went in search of the breakthrough.  

But it was Stoke with heads in hands soon after. Arnautovic’s deflected free-kick struck the crossbar, before Bojan smashed the rebound high into the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand.    

Into the final 20 and Noble, on the stretch, watched his long-range dig sail over, while Cresswell’s mishit cross was pushed behind by the acrobatic Butland.

West Ham soon had Adrian to thank for keeping it level, as he stuck out a boot once more to deny substitute Mame Biram Diouf from eight yards. 

But the Hammers weren’t done either. Zarate danced around the area and struck the outside of Butland’s left-hand upright, before Valencia so nearly applied a telling touch to Carroll’s header. 

By now an end-to-end affair, Biram Diouf might have won it at the death, but Adrian was in no mood to be beaten, as he saved with his feet, yet again. 

There was still drama to come, as Tomkins hooked effort was headed off the line, before Kouyate’s header got the same treatment. With that, Andre Marriner called time on the Hammers’ third draw in four. 

West Ham United: Adrian, Tomkins, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Song (Valencia 63), Noble (c), Antonio (Jelavic 83), Kouyate, Zarate, Carroll

Subs: Randolph (GK), Jenkinson, Obiang, Oxford, Cullen 

Booked: Kouyate  

Stoke City: Butland, Johnson, Shawcross (c), Wollscheid, Pieters, Cameron (Adam 69), Whelan, Van Ginkel (Biram Diouf 56), Afellay (Walters 66), Bojan, Arnautovic

Subs: Haugaard (GK), Bardsley, Joselu, Wilson

Booked: Pieters, Afellay   

Referee: Andre Marriner