West Ham 0-0 Stoke City
This entertaining game ended goaless, despite chances aplenty for both sides.
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic was pleased with the team work and spirit of his injury ravaged side.
Minus five first team regulars, Bilic had to turn to other members of his squad to fill the gaps.
The manager had special words of praise for Michail Antonio, who made his first start. “Antonio was good, he had the pace to run behind them and he fought to win the ball back and used it well,” said Bilic, who noted the high tempo nature of the contest and how both sides defended well. “It was a fair result, a very entertaining draw. With a bit of luck we could have won this game but so could they.”
Stoke manager Mark Hughes acknowledged a fine defending performance from his side but thought they could also have won it.
In the first half, the two sides tended to cancel each other out, with some intricate interplay but a lack of clear cut chances resulting.
Stoke conjured a slick passing move between Ibrahim Afellay, Glen Johnson and Marko Arnautovic, only for the latter to squeeze his shot wide.
In the second half, West Ham stretched Stoke with the slick interchanges between Mauro Zarate and Cheikhou Kouyate as well as Anotonio getting in behind defenders.
An early Zarate cross saw Andy Carroll forcing a save from Jack Butland, then Antonio had a point blank effort pawed away.
Both sides rocked the woodwork. Arnautovic saw his deflected free kick bounce off the top of the bar. The industrious Zarate, though, was not to be outdone, working his way across the penalty area before firing in a shot that bounced off the upright.
Enner Valencia nearly nicked the points late on with a dipping free kick but again the Stoke keeper was equal to the challenge, pushing the shot over the bar.
West Ham nearly took the spoils at the death with a scramble in the Stoke area which saw defender James Tompkins hook the ball back, only for a thumping header from Kouyate to be pushed out from under the bar by that man Butland again.