RYAN SHOTTON believes that he and his team-mates were undone by a 'Stoke-like' performance from West Ham United at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday . . . as they succumbed to only their second home League defeat in twelve months.
Sam Allardyce's side were indebted to midfielder Jack Collison for their third away win of the campaign, after he stepped off the bench to fire home the decisive strike deep into first half stoppage time.
"They did to us exactly what we try to do to other teams away from home," he acknowledged to Stoke City Player following the game. "They defended well, nicked a goal and then really worked hard to hold on to the lead they had.
"You have to give them some credit, and not just be too critical of ourselves, because they came here and set themselves up really well and they sniffed us out and played us well.
"We never really got going, and weren't able to create any real opportunities, and I guess a part of that was down to the way they defended throughout the afternoon."
He added: "We wanted to get the ball to Crouchy and play off him, but we weren't really able to do that. It was one of those games for us, and we will be working to improve upon it for sure."
The performance of the Fenton-born defender was one of the few positives to take from the defeat against the Hammers.
However, whilst he admits to being pleased with his recent form, he insists that there will be no complacency setting in as he looks to cement himself as a regular in the side over the coming months.
"From a personal point of view, I am pleased, yeah," he said. "But I can't afford to take anything for granted because I know there is still a long way to go for me to establish myself.
"It's important to have consistency in my game and I am feeling more confident each and every time I step on the field, so that is a good sign.
"You have to take each and every week as it comes because as we know around here nobody is guaranteed a place in the side, so I will be working as hard as ever on the training pitch to try and keep my spot in the starting eleven."
Attentions now turn towards this weekend's trip to the North East to take on Newcastle United; a fixture that Shotton feels is right up there with the most difficult of the season.
"They may not be flying like they were last season but it is still an incredibly difficult place to go," he said.
"They have the French lads in now too, who they signed in January, and they will be hoping to get another three points on the board just as we are.
"We will go there and we will try to get the result we want. If we can perform to the levels that we know we are capable of then there is no reason why we can't win the game."