Zola suffers Hammer blow: Match Review

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West Ham's Barclays Premier League future is hanging by a thread after they crashed to a sixth consecutive defeat.

Stoke striker Ricardo Fuller came off the bench to score a brilliant solo goal after 69 minutes to send West Ham spiralling towards the relegation trap-door following a 1-0 defeat.

Hull's victory over Fulham at the KC Stadium meant West Ham's cushion has been lost with only goal difference keeping them out of the bottom three.

West Ham co-owner David Sullivan had blasted the midweek 3-1 defeat to Wolves as "pathetic" and "appalling" and there was little evidence of an improvement today.

In an open letter to supporters Sullivan also pointed to West Ham's lack of quality players and, Scott Parker and Carlton Cole apart, that was clearly evident as they once again lacked passion and ideas.

Gianfranco Zola made five changes from the Wolves defeat, a couple of which raised more than a few eyebrows around Upton Park.

Mido, who came in for Benni McCarthy up front, spent most of the game off the pace and missed a sitter while Manuel Da Costa was at fault for Fuller's goal.

Kieron Dyer came into the team but only lasted until half-time while the industrious Mark Noble was sacrificed early but Zola preserved with Mido.

Stoke, who moved up to 10th place with the victory, featured two changes with Liam Lawrence and Mamady Sidibe both promoted into the starting team.

It was the visitors who had the first attempt on goal after Jonathan Spector's attempted clearance on the edge of the West Ham box had crashed against Lawrence's arm.

Referee Andre Marriner waved play-on as Lawrence pounced on the loose ball but his shot flew over the bar.

West Ham dealt well with Rory Delap's long throws - helped by the installation of some new advertising hoardings - but were less than convincing in defending corners and were fortunate Abdoulaye Faye squandered two chances.

Dave Kitson's flick fell to Faye at the back post but Mido dived in at the last minute to block his shot.

When Matthew Etherington, on his first return to Upton Park since leaving West Ham for Stoke, whipped in another corner Faye rose highest but directed his header wide.

Parker sparked a West Ham counter-attack with another run through the heart of the Stoke midfield and he slid a perfectly-weighted pass through for Cole.

But Stoke keeper Thomas Sorenson was off his line quickly and he smothered the chance just as Cole looked to touch the ball past him.

West Ham had 19 shots on goal against Wolves, managing only a hollow injury-time consolation, and they were similarly profligate today.

Cole and Parker apart, West Ham lacked the quality and composure in the final third as chances went begging, with Mido twice the guilty party.

Cole unleashed a fierce left-footed strike from the edge of the box which Sorenson did well to block but Mido made a hash of the rebound.

Mido was 10 yards out and with only a sprawling keeper to beat but he could not bring the rebound under control and it ricocheted away off his thigh.

Parker fed Valon Behrami on the left of the Stoke box but the Swiss international midfielder blasted his shot wide of the near post.

Dyer was replaced at half-time by Alessandro Diamanti and Stoke were forced into a change two minutes into the second period when Tuncay Sanli came on for the injured Kitson.

Parker raced out of the wall to block a Robert Huth piledriver and took the ball flush in the face but picked himself up to continue as West Ham's heartbeat.

Cole needed treatment but continued and jinked his way into space before attempting to curl a 25-yard effort round Sorenson but it hardly troubled the Stoke keeper.

Cole was then hauled down by Glenn Whelan and Diamanti tried his luck from 35 yards out but blasted his shot high into the Bobby Moore Stand and then held up his hands in apology.

Behrami launched a counter-attack after West Ham had dealt with a Stoke free-kick and he ran 70 yards but could not find space either to shoot or pick out Cole and was eventually crowded out in the box.

Fuller was sent on for Etherington and within two minutes he had scored the winner with a brilliant solo effort.

Fuller collected the long ball from Collins on the left edge of the box, left Da Costa flailing, cut past Parker and inside Matthew Upson before rifling his shot past Robert Green.

West Ham desperately chased an equaliser but fired blanks.

Cole saw a header drift just wide and Diamanti drilled a last-minute free-kick straight into the wall - symptomatic of West Ham's lack of quality.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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