Landmark O'Brien goal earns West Ham draw with Stoke
Premier League, Upton Park - West Ham United 1 (O'Brien 48) Stoke City 1 (Walters 13)
Joey O'Brien scored his first Premier League goal but it was not enough to catapult West Ham United into fifth place in the table after a bruising 1-1 draw with Stoke City at Upton Park.
Stoke had the better of the first period and went ahead when Jon Walters finished off a pre-planned training ground move on 13 minutes as he gave his marker the slip before smashing Glenn Whelan's corner into the net with the ball flying through Andy Carroll on the line.
There were audible protests from home figures about Charlie Adam obstructing George McCartney as he tried to pursue Walters, but the goal stood.
West Ham emerged looking a whole lot brighter in the second half and equalised when O'Brien pounced from close range three minutes after half-time to slip the ball over the line from Gary O'Neil's cross with just the smallest hint of offside going unnoticed.
O’Brien scored his first Premier League goal in his 58th appearance in the division, but Sam Allardyce's side could not find the winning goal despite pressing the visiting team back for large swathes of the second period.
West Ham would have moved up to fifth in the table with 21 points from 12 matches – their most points at this stage of a top flight season in 28 years since 1984-85 under former manager John Lyall. They remain well placed in the standings in seventh place despite failing to depart with all three points.
Stoke continue to seek a win on the road. They have now gone an outright Premier League club record 16-match streak without an away victory while West Ham draw a second consecutive Premier League home match.
But Stoke manager Tony Pulis will feel slightly happier about leaving London with the point.
The visitors looked sharper early on with Adam lifting a volley over the bar on four minutes from Peter Crouch's header down. West Ham goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen was forced to claw out a Robert Huth header on 23 minutes as Stoke eyed a 2-0 lead.
Steven N'Zonzi showed his threat with a piercing effort that came back off the underside of the home crossbar as West Ham continued to match the obvious physicality of Stoke. It was no evening for small men.
But the roles were curiously reversed in the second half as Asmir Begovic was forced to claw out a header on his line with Nolan somehow failing to convert before the home side equalised a minute later.
With Crouch joining his defenders to quell the West Ham surge, Modibo Maiga saw an effort blocked from an Andy Carroll header on 57 minutes while O'Neil dashed onto a pass from Mohamed Diame to slide a shot narrowly wide five minutes later.
West Ham continued to push for the winning goal, but Begovic cut out a McCartney cross before time eventually ran out with Stoke doing little or nothing in the second half going forward.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Kevin Nolan (West Ham United): Dragged his team up the park. The home captain is always a figure to display real character when times get tough. Helped rescue a point for the home side that may prove to be so precious later in the season.