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Pennant Free Kick Fires Stoke To Victory

Pennant Free Kick Fires Stoke To Victory
Gareth Ekin

Stoke ran out 1-0 winners at Boleyn Ground earlier today thanks to Jermaine Pennant’s 82nd minute free kick.  The midfielder, brought back in from the cold under the previous managerial, regime fired in a right footed curler that hit the back of the net before Hammers’ goalkeeper Jaaskelainen had started the futile dive to his left.  Unbelievably, it was Pennant’s first goal since he netted at the Britannia Stadium in May 2011 against his old foe Arsenal, and the first goal West Ham have have conceded this season.

Stoke were worthy winners and had much more control of the game than their hosts.  A watching Ray Winstone, who looked like an ageing member of Bucks Fizz, couldn’t do anything other than watch a lacklustre West Ham fall against superior opposition. Hughes will be looking to add to their squad before tomorrow’s transfer deadline, providing he can bring in the quality that will push Stoke on under both the restrictive wage cap and the alleged minimal transfer kitty. One can’t help but feel the alleged diminished transfer budget was hindered by Asmir Begovic’s continued stay in the Potteries when most thought his solid, Player Of The Season performances between the sticks last season, would seal a move away.

First on the hitlist must surely be a winger and a striker for Hughes, whose much changed style of play, for all it’s aesthetic appeal, lacks teeth.  Peter Crouch’s miserable run of form continues this season where it left of last season, as does Jon Walters’ spot kicks. Kenwyne Jones who hit a hat-trick against league one opposition looks a much better prospect up-front, but the introduction of someone who can deliver a final killer pass and another goalscorer alongside Jones would put Stoke in a much better position.

A fine first away win of the season for Stoke, it’s travelling fans and a move upto 5th in the league.

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