Stoke City: Glenn Whelan played his part in goal, says Jon Walters
JON Walters modestly shared credit with Glenn Whelan and the coaching staff for his 13th-minute strike at Upton Park last night.
Walters gave Stoke the lead in a thrilling 1-1 draw as hard-work on the training ground paid-dividends.
• GALLERY: Match Action: West Ham United 1 Stoke City 1
The wide-man drifted to the back post before losing his marker with a run across the box to meet Whelan's low corner.
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He couldn't have met the ball any better as a first-time strike fizzed past a defender and keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen at the near post to stun the home fans.
Walters said: "We've worked on that one probably for the last four or five sessions all week and it came off. Glenn put the ball in perfectly, exactly as I wanted it so all credit to him.
"I thought we could have been two or three up in the first half, but the second half was completely different. But we battled away for a point.
"West Ham have been flying this year so we will take this as a good point going into the next two home games."
Stoke showed both sides of their game on an entertaining evening at Upton Park as they took the game to the Hammers before the break before having to defend resolutely in the second half.
They would have had a greater lead to defend had they made the most of their first-half dominance, but the closest they came was when Steven Nzonzi's rasping 20-yard half-volley crashed off the underside of the bar, but bounced to safety.
The effort continued an eye-catching performance from Nzonzi who has impressed as a defensive midfielder all season since he was signed from Blackburn. However, he has also shown in his last couple of games that he is comfortable going forward.
Walters added: "Steve's strike could have gone in and he also hit one just before that. He has that in his locker and we were very unlucky not to go two ahead.
"At 1-0 it is always a difficult scoreline and it was completely different second half."
City were on the back foot for most of the second half, but should still take positives for that final 45 minutes.
They started sloppily to allow Joey O'Brien to equalise three minutes into the second period, but thereafter defended resolutely to defy an in-form Hammers team and a sell-out crowd at Upton Park.
Walters said the players were disappointed they hadn't offered more going forward after the break, but said a battling 1-1 draw away to a West Ham side who needed a win to go fifth was not a bad result.
He said: "We defended really well. Asmir pulled off some great saves and there were some last-minute blocks. We should have been better in the second half, but we will take it as a good point."
Walters got up to support lone-front man Peter Crouch in the first half, as did fellow wide-man Matthew Etherington and attacking midfielder Charlie Adam.
But City found that more difficult after the break as West Ham put them under sustained pressure in front of vociferous home support.
However, it was hard to criticise that second-half performance as Stoke were up against a side who , in their last two games, had been unlucky to only draw at home to Manchester City and had then won away at Newcastle.
Walters added: "In the second half it was backs against the wall. Peter he was on his own up front and it was difficult for him because we were defending so deep in the second half. We have to get runners past him, but it was difficult."