City Hearts Broken

Peter Crouch

STOKE CITY’S hearts were broken right at the death at the London Stadium on Monday evening as Andy Carroll denied the Potters a first victory on the road since last autumn.

Substitute Peter Crouch etched himself into the Club’s history books by establishing himself as the leading all-time Premier League goalscorer 12 minuted from time.

However, his close range effort failed to deliver the rewards it so richly deserved as Hammers frontman Andy Carroll netted a stunning last gasp equaliser to deny Paul Lambert’s men a monumental triumph.

It was a cruel cruel blow for the visitors who had once more performed admirably as they looked to bridge the gap between themselves and Swansea City in 17th position.

The home side came into the encounter buoyant on the back of a deserved draw against London rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last time out and could have drawn first blood had it not been for the brilliance of Jack Butland.

The England international made a stunning reaction save to deny former Potter Marko Arnautovic from point blank range, before making another vital stop to thwart Joao Mario.

At the other end Ramadan tested the waters of Joe Hart with a stinging effort, before Joe Allen failed to pick out the unmarked Xherdan Shaqiri as the visitors sprung an incisive counter attack.

Egyptian international Ramadan twisted and turned his way past two West Ham defenders as the first half drew towards its conclusion, but let himself down with a wayward ball into the box with Mame Diouf well positioned.

It was in fact the Senegalese who spurned the visitors best opportunity of the match when he blazed over from five-yards after the impressive Maritza Bauer picked him out with a delicious delivery shortly after the interval.

Arnautovic has already seen an effort ruled out for a clear offside on the first half when controversy rained on the stadium midway through the second period, with the linesman deeming the Austrian to have been interfering with play when Edimilson Fernandez rifled home from 20-yards.

Lambert ran the changes in a bid to turn the game in his side’s favour by introducing Crouch and Geoff Cameron from the bench 20 minutes from time.

It proved to be a master stroke too as Xherdan Shaqiri’s curling effort was only half saved by Hart, allowing Crouch to nip in and prod home what at the time felt like the Potters most important goal in recent history.

You expected a response from the home side as the seconds ticked down towards the go al whistle, but just as the Potters looked to have shown enough resilience to see the game out Carroll struck a stunning effort beyond Butland to rescue his side a point.

It leaves City with a real mountain to climb as they look to preserve their top-flight status, and makes this Sunday’s showdown with in-form Burnley absolutely pivotal.

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