STOKE CITY slipped to their third 1-0 defeat in four matches against London opposition as substitute Jack Collison grabbed the only goal of the Barclays Premier League encounter with West Ham United at the Britannia Stadium.
Tony Pulis’ side failed to recover from falling behind to Collison’s clinical finish right on the stroke of half-time despite exerting plenty of pressure after the break and hitting the bar in the final minute when Charlie Adam was denied.
Adam saw his dipping volley beat Jussi Jaaskelainen but crash against the woodwork as the Hammers hung on to claim their victory, one which sees them move level on 33 points with the Potters in the middle of the table.
Having recently lost in the capital itself to Arsenal and Fulham by the odd goal, City struggled to recapture their excellent home form and suffered only their second League defeat of the campaign at the Britannia Stadium as a result.
Pulis had made three changes to the side beaten at Fulham last weekend, with Wilkinson called up to allow Wilson to switch to the centre of defence, while Kightly and Jerome were also brought in at the expense of Cameron and the injured Etherington.
It was Kightly who was immediately presented with an excellent opportunity when he latched onto a short corner taken by Whelan, but although he had the time and space to tee up a shot at goal, his eventual effort was a tame one which flew well wide.
There was a long delay while Taylor received treatment for a facial injury after being caught by a boot from Crouch as the striker flicked the ball up and attempted a scissor kick when West Ham struggled to clear a corner sent over by Whelan.
Taylor was unable to continue and had to be replaced by Collison, and worse was to follow for the Hammers as Cole limped off to be replaced by Vaz Te.
Despite the major reshuffle, it was West Ham who created some encouraging moments as Diame forced his way into a dangerous position only to be blocked by Wilson’s timely interception before Carroll then had a left foot shot charged down.
The Hammers were desperately close to breaking the deadlock in the 25th minute when a corner was cleared as far as Vaz Te who curled a ball back into the area where Collins’ glancing header looped over Begovic but hit the top of the bar.
Despite glimpses of Jerome’s pace up front, it was West Ham who continued to look the more threatening going forward with Diame prompting them from the centre of midfield and Carroll had another goalbound shot blocked by Shawcross.
After three minutes had been added on at the end of the first half, West Ham’s two substitutes linked up to put them in front, Vaz Te slipping a pass through to Collison who fired a low shot to Begovic’s right into the far corner from 15 yards.
Although Pulis resisted the temptation to make changes at half time, it wasn’t long before Jones and Shea were warming up as City struggled to make headway.
It was the Hammers who went close to stretching their lead when Vaz Te delivered another defence-splitting pass for Jarvis to burst past Shotton and strike a low left foot shot which was saved by Begovic with his legs at the near post.
At the other end, Cameron capitalised on a mix-up in the West Ham defence to send over an early cross which fell the way of Crouch who struck a first time shot from the edge of the box which was grasped by the diving Jaaskelainen.
West Ham still posed the greater threat going forward, but Jarvis was ruled to be in an offside position when he had a shot save by Begovic after Carroll had managed to get the better of his tussle with Shawcross following good work by Vaz Te.
Pulis made his second change when Jones was introduced in place of Walters and it was clear that Adam was also about to be brought on as well, with Whelan making way.
But it was the Hammers who should have gone further ahead when Shotton was caught in possession as Collison broke into the box before setting up Vaz Te who tried to walk the ball in after getting past Begovic only for Nzonzi to intervene.
City exerted plenty of pressure in search of an equaliser and they thought it had arrived in the final minute of normal time when Adam chested down the ball some 25 yards out and smashed a volley which beat Jasskelainen but cannoned against the bar.
That was the last opportunity that they managed to create, although there were appeals for a penalty waved away when they felt Demel had handled in the area as he tried to clear the ball under pressure from both Shea and Crouch.
Although there were five minutes added on at the end, West Ham held out in the face of more pressure to claim all three points.