An impressive pair of performances from the two goalkeepers meant neither Stoke City or West Ham United could break the deadlock in a disappointing 0-0 draw at the Bet365 Stadium.
In a game of few chances, West Ham could have walked away with all three points but for some top saves from Jack Butland, in front of the watching England manager Gareth Southgate.
Up the other end, Adrian saved the Hammers from a 17th loss of the campaign with some impressive reflex saves, but both teams will be disappointed with just a point.
Butland was making just his second appearance since recovering from a fractured ankle while Slaven Bilic chose against recalling club captain Mark Noble who stayed in the bench at the start of the game.
It took under a minute for West Ham to call Butland in to action and it came from a slip by Glen Johnson. Manuel Lanzini raced on to the loose ball and drilled a low shot at goal, but some good positioning from the English shot-stopper meant it was a simple collect for the Stoke man. Up the other end, Saido Berahino was on the receiving end of Marco Arnautovic’s pull-back, but Winston Reid made an amazing last-ditch block to stop Berahino from scoring his first goal for the club since moving from West Bromwich Albion in January.
Howevever, it was Butland who stole the show in the first half as another fantastic save meant that both sides would go into half-time level. Lanzini’s inswinging cross was met brilliantly by an acrobatic overhead kick from Andre Ayew, but the former Birmingham City goalkeeper made a tremendous reflex save to palm the shot away from point-blank range.
Stoke started the second half in appositive fashion and should have been in front in the 46th minute. Glen Johnson skipped away from the rusty Aaron Cresswell and slammed in a low cross towards Joe Allen, but the Welsh midfielder failed to hit the target from ten yards out. It was a bad miss and Mark Hughes looked furious on the bench.
Xherdan Shaquiri was proving to be an increasingly dangerous thorn in West Ham’s side and when he got the ball onto his left foot in the 56th minute, the home fans were expecting fireworks. Unfortunately for them, Shaquiri’s goalbound effort was well tipped over by the Hammers’ Spanish goalkeeper.
Stoke started to up the pressure and both Allen and Berahino forced Adrian into good saves with powerful low drives, but it wasn’t all one way. Butland stood tall to keep out a ferocious effort from Ayew and the following close-range header from Lanzini a few moments later.
Stoke would create one more great opportunity, but as the story of the game told us, neither goalkeeper wanted to be beaten. Shaquiri took advantage of a slack James Collins pass to ping a wonderful cross into the path of Arnautovic, but the winger’s instinctive volley was pushed away by Adrian’s strong hand to keep it goalless.
With the point, Stoke get to the magical 40-point mark but a draw has done nothing to ease West Ham’s relegation concerns.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)