Beattie brace extends West Ham woe
Striker James Beattie's first goals of the season earned Stoke City a 2-1 victory at home to West Ham United. The burly forward scored his opener from an 11th-minute penalty, only for Matthew Upson to head an equaliser before the interval. However, Beattie had the last word when he forced home Ricardo Fuller's cross at the far post with 20 minutes to go.
Those goals ended a run of four Barclays Premier League matches, including successive home defeats to Chelsea and Manchester United, without a win for the Potters. It was also only their second victory in 14 matches against West Ham, who themselves have not won since the opening day of the season and are only one place off the bottom of the table.
That former Hammers winger Matthew Etherington, who left Upton Park in January, should have a major part in the breakthrough was no surprise. Ricardo Fuller's backheel sent him racing into the penalty area only to go down under a challenge from Julien Faubert. Referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot and booked Faubert before Beattie confidently dispatched the penalty for his first goal of the season.
West Ham's response involved Alessandro Diamanti who, struggling to cope with the physical opposition put up by Stoke, fired well over from 30 yards. The Italian's theatrical response to a tackle from Salif Diao earned the Senegal midfielder a booking and West Ham a 30-yard free-kick in a central position. However, Diamanti curled his shot straight at Thomas Sorensen, who caught it comfortably.
Stoke's high-energy game began to dominate and England goalkeeper Robert Green almost embarrassed himself in the 31st minute when his duffed kick only just crept past Beattie five yards in front of him. But it was another England international, Upson, who grabbed West Ham's equaliser three minutes later.
No-one tracked the centre-back's run from the edge of the penalty area and he was able to head home Mark Noble's in-swinging left-wing corner unchallenged. Diamanti's tendency to go to ground contributed to Ryan Shawcross getting booked as he clipped the midfielder inside West Ham's half.
West Ham came out after the break visibly more confident and Diamanti was first to test Sorensen with a curling left-footed shot that the Dane saved low to his right. Shawcross had two chances to put his side in front again from Etherington's corner, first with a header that was blocked two yards off the line by Radoslav Kovac and then with his follow-up which he stabbed wide. The England U-21 centre-back then produced a perfectly-timed challenge at the other end to block Carlton Cole's shot.
In the 69th minute Stoke went ahead again thanks to the invention and pace of Fuller and the strength of Beattie. Fuller turned Upson 35 yards from goal and raced down the inside-right channel before unleashing a shot that Green could only parry and that allowed Beattie to out-muscle Faubert and score from close range at the far post.
Etherington should have made it 3-1 in the 76th minute, after substitute Liam Lawrence had battled his way through two challenges in the penalty area, but the winger's far-post header went wide. Zavon Hines was introduced for Diamanti, but his first contribution was to be booked for a late lunge on Lawrence. Late on Fuller almost produced a carbon copy of his assist for the second goal, but this time his cross rolled through the six-yard area with no team-mate close.