LONDON (REUTERS) - West Ham United substitute Andy Carroll netted a late equaliser to snatch a 1-1 draw at home to Stoke City on Monday (April 16) that moved the Londoners a step closer to Premier League safety and left the visitors facing the drop.
Stoke thought they had secured all three points and their first away win since October when substitute Peter Crouch knocked a loose ball into the back of the net after West Ham's England goalkeeper Joe Hart spilled a shot after 79 minutes.
But West Ham showed all their fighting qualities as they rescued a point in added time when Carroll volleyed a cross from Aaron Cresswell past Jack Butland into the corner of the net.
West Ham will count themselves unlucky not to have won after having three goals disallowed in the second half, but the victory means they now stand seven points clear of the bottom three, while Stoke are five points adrift of the safety zone.
After a crucial home win over Southampton and a well-earned point at Chelsea, David Moyes' West Ham side were in confident mood and could have broken the deadlock after 55 minutes when former Stoke forward Marko Arnautovic directed a powerful header past Butland but was adjudged to be in an offside position.
The Hammers were denied a goal once again after 67 minutes when Edimilson Fernandes struck a powerful shot that flew past Butland but his effort was also ruled out, with Arnautovic standing right in front of the unsighted Stoke keeper.
Stoke opened the scoring after a moment to forget for World Cup hopeful Hart in front of watching England manager Gareth Southgate as he failed to hold a shot from Xherdan Shaqiri and Crouch was in the right place to convert from close-range.
But West Ham refused to lie down and Carroll, missing for the last 13 games through injury, showed his quality when Cresswell delivered a perfect ball into his path and the former Liverpool forward fired an unstoppable volley past Butland.
West Ham were again denied by the linesman's flag moments later when Javier Hernandez struck the ball past Butland, but Carroll was adjudged to have handled inside the area. However, his goal had taken West Ham one more step away from danger.