On-loan defender Frazer Richardson scored a priceless winner for First
Division strugglers Stoke against an out-of-sorts West Ham at Upton Park.
The Leeds player showed his quality with a neat first-half strike from the
edge of the penalty area, which gave England goalkeeper David James no chance.
The victory finally ended Stoke's run of eight successive defeats on the
Stoke made the brighter start and after Ade Akinbiyi was caught offside trying
to break clear, Marcus Hall unleashed a left-foot volley but it failed to
John Eustace was the next Stoke player to try his luck in the seventh minute
but his 25-yard strike flew well wide.
The Potters then worked themselves into a good position in the 21st
minute, only for Darel Russell to clear the crossbar from the edge of the
The home fans had to wait until the 26th minute before the first spell of
sustained pressure from the Hammers resulted in a corner.
Wayne Quinn curled the ball over from the left and Ian Pearce's far-post
header was scrambled clear by Hall.
West Ham's best chance of the half fell to David Connolly, whose thumping shot
came back off a post in the 30th minute.
But Stoke took the lead three minutes later when
Richardson picked his spot from the edge of the area with a crisp strike.
West Ham failed to lift themselves at the start of the second period and
manager Alan Pardew replaced the ineffective Brian Deane with Scotland
international Don Hutchison.
The hosts' first real chance of the second half fell to the substitute in the
70th minute, but his right-foot volley from Michael Carrick's corner flashed
well wide of the goal.
At least Hutchison was able to inject some urgency into West Ham's play and he
then forced a save from Ed de Goey seven minutes later.
Stoke responded with a quick counter-attack and Eustace was unfortunate to see
his superb 25-yard volley rebound off the woodwork.
West Ham applied the pressure in the latter stages, but Stoke deservedly held
on for three precious points.
West Ham: James, Repka, Dailly, Pearce, Quinn, Carrick,
Mullins, Stockdale, Connolly, Harewood, Deane.
Hutchison, Ferdinand, Horlock, Garcia.
Stoke: de Goey, Thomas, Marcus Hall, Taggart, Clarke, Eustace,
Russell, Halls, Richardson, Noel-Williams, Akinbiyi.
Cutler, Asaba, Neal, Commons, Johnson.
Referee: B Curson (Leicestershire).