Tuesday 20 February 2018

Cresswell calls for more focus

Stoke's Marko Arnautovic, right, scored a dramatic equaliser deep into stoppage time at West Ham
Stoke's Marko Arnautovic, right, scored a dramatic equaliser deep into stoppage time at West Ham

Full-back Aaron Cresswell accepts West Ham must learn to stay 'switched on' right up until the final whistle to avoid seeing their Barclays Premier League campaign drift away.

The Irons looked set for a second successive home victory when leading 1-0 deep into five minutes of added-time against Stoke at Upton Park on Saturday.

However, with just 30 seconds remaining, Marko Arnautovic charged into the right side of the penalty area before slamming the ball into the bottom left corner to net a dramatic equaliser and secure a 1-1 draw.

Manager Sam Allardyce lamented his team's inability to see out the result once again, having watched them concede a late goal in the 2-1 defeat at bottom club Leicester last weekend, adding to the disappointment of similar failures against the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham earlier in the campaign.

Defender Cresswell, who cracked in a superb 25-yard left-foot free-kick on seven minutes, accepts the team have to take responsibility for not staying focused to see the job through.

"I can't really put a finger on why there have been a few late goals recently, (maybe) it is us not staying switched on to the very end," Cresswell said.

"It is Man United, Tottenham and now on Saturday, so it is very disappointing not to get the three points, because if we had held on in those, we would be quite high up (the table)."

Cresswell continued on the club's official website, www.whufc.com: "The most disappointing thing was that we couldn't push on after going 1-0 up and score a second goal.

"It didn't come, so you just have to be professional and hold on to the 1-0 and play rough and dirty if that is the case to get that 1-0."

West Ham have now won just three of their last 16 Premier League matches to slide down the table, and next head to Manchester City, then QPR.

However, it remains to be seen whether Allardyce will have Diafra Sakho available again after the Senegal forward limped off with a thigh injury, which could yet rule him out for the remainder of the campaign.

Enner Valencia will also be assessed after only just returning from a toe injury.

Stoke were too left with fitness worries, as forward Victor Moses (hamstring) and defender Marc Wilson (hip) hobbled off.

Despite trailing for such a long period, Potters boss Mark Hughes felt his side had shown more than enough endeavour to take something from the game.

Substitute Mame Diouf saw his header hit the inside of the post, while the visitors also had two goals from Arnautovic ruled out for offside before finally getting some good fortune just when the clock looked to have ran down.

Stoke are now 10th on 43 points, having ended their three-match losing streak.

Hughes said: "We are in decent shape and want to better last season's total (50), so we are very much in the shake up for that.

"There are still teams we can catch, but we are mindful of teams that can still catch us."

Press Association

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