Date: 3rd May 2009 at 8:06pm
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A moment of real quality won us this game, and some resolute defending kept a clean sheet. This was a real team performance, with each of the players working their socks off.

The team was again depleted by injuries, with Savio, Collins and Dyer joining the ever-long queue for the treatment room. This meant a start for Kovac, in a side that has come familiar to the Hammers’ faithful in recent weeks.

Stoke came out of the blocks fairly quickly, but our defence dealt with the early pressure well, and around the half hour mark we took the lead. Tristan lashed in a great free kick from just outside the box, his third goal of his Hammers’ career to date. It was a moment of real quality from a player who has started to show what he is capable of in the last few weeks.

After the goal the tempo of the game picked up, with Stoke looking to get back in the game straight away. Liam Lawrence wriggled his way into the box, and then decided to fall over, earning himself a booking.

A few minutes before the break Delap and Boa Morte tangled, with Delap lashing out at the West Ham midfielder. It could (and should) have been a red, but the Stoke player got away with a yellow. This incident fired up both sets of fans, and the game turned a bit niggly.

After half-time there were chances at both ends, including when Faye went close with a header, only to see his header guided away to safety by Mark Noble.

Our defence held out well, securing a vital three points in the battle for 7th place.

Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson (Sonko 88), Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Pugh (Olofinjana 73), Lawrence, Delap, Whelan, Etherington, Fuller, Beattie (Camara 72).
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Cresswell, Kelly, Tonge.

Booked: Shawcross, Lawrence, Delap.

West Ham: Green, Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Stanislas, Noble (Lopez 87), Kovac, Boa Morte (Collison 82), Tristan, Di Michele (Sears 89).
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Spector, Payne, Hines.

Booked: Boa Morte, Neill.

Gianfranco Zola:
‘Every team that has won at Stoke this season has had to work hard.

‘My team has shown that they are determined to fight for European qualification.

‘It was a great effort and I am very pleased. I am proud of my centre backs and the whole team is playing well. The team has been defending well like that for a long time.’

Tony Pullis:
‘We are disappointed with the result – but that is the nature of this league.

‘West Ham had a really good spell in the first half and got their goal, although our goalkeeper was not really tested that much.

‘We did not have the breaks today but we were not sharp enough either in and around the box.’