Carroll salvages vital point for West Ham
Andy Carroll scored a 90th-minute equaliser for West Ham to draw with relegation-threatened Stoke 1-1 in the English Premier League and come to team-mate Joe Hart’s rescue after the goalkeeper’s latest error yesterday.
Stoke were close to a huge win in their fight to avoid the drop when Carroll, who had been on the field as a substitute for just four minutes, met a left-wing cross with a crisp volley into the bottom corner.
That strike spared the blushes of Hart, whose fumble allowed Peter Crouch - another second-half substitute - to put Stoke ahead in the 79th at the Olympic Stadium.
A victory for the visitors would have seen them move to within three points of safety and keep West Ham in real danger of going down.
As it turned out, Stoke have five points to make up in their final four games to preserve their topflight status.
‘‘The goal was a kick in the teeth,’' Crouch said.
Carroll last played for West Ham more than three months ago, with an ankle injury depriving the team of its target man up front.
The point left West Ham seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Stoke are likely to need at least three wins from their final four games to stay up.
‘‘It is a blow because we were close to winning,’' Stoke manager Paul Lambert said. ‘‘We’re right in the fight, no mistake about it.’'