In the 26th Volume of our Classic Match series, we delve into the archives once more to bring you another memorable West Ham United clash from down the years, this time around, it involves Monday night’s opponents at the London Stadium, Stoke City.
Cast your minds back to the early spring of 2011, “Someone Like You” by Adele was at the very summit of the United Kingdom Music Charts and the 2011 UK Census was about to take place.
Meanwhile, in the world of football, and more specifically the Premier League, West Ham United were enduring their sixth season on the spin in the Top-Flight having regained their status in 2005.
Israeli Avram Grant was in charge in East London and the Hammers were emerging as favourites for the drop to the then Npower Championship as the season progressed.
Heading into a March visit of Stoke City to the Boleyn Ground, the Irons sat 18th in the standings, but did enjoy a ray of light in a dark tunnel the previous weekend with a shock home victory over Liverpool, giving them a much-needed boost.
Meanwhile, it was the Potters’ third campaign in the Premier League after their own promotion and much like they had done in previous campaigns, they were holding their own in with the big boys.
However, the Staffordshire side weren’t mathematically safe yet, off the back of four defeats in their last six in the league, and still firmly in the bottom half, drawing 1-1 at home to West Bromwich Albion last time out.
The encounter was to be the third of four meetings between West Ham and Stoke that season, two of which the hosts that day won in the end, drawing once and only being defeated once, in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup at the then Britannia Stadium.
A Sunny Upton Park in spring was the venue for the clash which was set to be crucial for both teams’ hopes of Premier League survival, albeit more desperate for the home side.
When the two starting Xls were announced an hour prior to kick-off in E13, the danger men could be clearly spotted in both sides, the players with the capabilities to impact the game profoundly.
For Grant’s men these included the likes of soon to be FWA Footballer of the Year and captain Scott Parker and in-form striker Demba Ba, while for Tony Pulis’ team, names such as the attacking pair of Jon Walters and John Carew fit that billing.
When the match could finally get underway in East London, against the backdrop of a classic Boleyn electric atmosphere, it would be pure one-way traffic from the word go.
The Hammers pressured their opposition right from the off and threatened to get their reward early on, but nevertheless, wouldn’t have to wait very long for it at all.
20 minutes to be more precise and it came from one of Grant’s men’s better-attacking movements of the season so far, an eye-catching attack where a youthful Mark Noble teed up Ba in the area from the right flank.
The Senegalese International couldn’t miss, converting past Asmir Begovic and laying the foundations for an afternoon to remember in a season to forget for West Ham.
The advantage was soon doubled by a goal from an unlikely source, centre-back Manuel da Costa getting his second of the season, the other coming in the Carling Cup win over the Potters.
The defender rose highest from a Parker free-kick delivery to nod back across the face of goal and into the far bottom corner, the Hammers had a sizeable cushion.
Freddie Piquionne and “De Hammer” Thomas Hitzlsperger were among those to threaten in the East Londoners’ search for a third, although they couldn’t manage one more before the break.
The visitors would somewhat hit back in the second period, applying pressure and hunting for a way back into the affair, but never quite able to fond their stride.
The three points were quickly becoming a formality for the home side and try as Carlton Cole might, he wouldn’t be the man to put the cherry on the cake, instead a certain German International.
On 83 minutes, an intelligent Parker run gave Piquionne a golden opportunity from just yards out, the former Portsmouth man seeing his effort blocked away by Ryan Shawcross.
The ball rolled into the path of Hitzlsperger, who picked his spot in an instant and smashed his second strike in Claret & Blue high into the roof of the net from just inside the area.
The powerful shot finally put the game to bed and ensured that the home supporters could enjoy drama-free closing stages of the match, unlike the most recent win over the Reds.
Grant’s men held out with ease for a triumph that took them out of the bottom three and into 17th, boosting their chances of salvaging an unlikely survival, while Pulis’ side would have been made to feel a little uneasy by a defeat that moved them a tad closer to danger.
Unfortunately, for the home team, that would be their last win that season of any description as they were relegated with 33 points, rock-bottom of the table, losing seven of their last nine.
Whereas, the Potters were able to achieve safety with flying colours, in the end, finishing up a respectable 13th position with 46 points and losing in the final of the FA Cup to Manchester City.
However, one question remains to be answered, can David Moyes’ West Ham United record a similarly-heavy victory over Paul Lambert’s Stoke City when they meet for a pivotal relegation cash on Monday night? Find out right here on MooreThanJustAClub with our Live Blog, featuring live and exclusive build-up, text commentary and reaction from the matchup, live from the London Stadium Press Box from 6 PM BST.