Dave Evans , West Ham United correspondent
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Hammers full back Joey O’Brien surprised many by popping up in the box to level matters against Stoke City at Upton Park on Monday night.
When the West Ham equaliser arrived against Stoke City on Monday night it came from the unlikeliest of sources.
Gary O’Neil drilled in a low cross from the right and you would expect either Andy Carroll or Kevin Nolan to be getting on the end of it, but it was full back Joey O’Brien who emerged as the hero.
But just what was he doing up there in the first place?
“I tried to play a one-two with Mo Diame, but for whatever reason the ball didn’t come back to me,” revealed the smiling Irishman.
“I’ve seen it go out to Gary O’Neil and he is quality on the ball and he is one of those players that can find you in the box among a bunch of players.
“So I took a chance and stayed around there and he put a great ball in and I just managed to get on the end of it.”
It was only the second goal that the 26-year-old has scored in claret and blue and his first ever strike in the Premier League.
The goal was the perfect response to a disappointing first half for West Ham as they slipped behind against a well-drilled Stoke side.
“The manager said a few words at half time and we reacted well and set off in the second half really well,” said O’Brien.
“Kevin Nolan had a chance to score right at the start and I think that set the tone for the whole half.”
There were one or two raised eyebrows that O’Brien kept his place in the starting line-up on Monday, despite Guy Demel being fit, but for the former Bolton man, he was expecting to play.
“At the end of the day, when you won 1-0 away at Newcastle, you are going to stay in the team, so the gaffer didn’t really need to make any changes after that,” he insisted.
After a goal on Monday, he is likely to keep his place for Sunday’s London derby clash with Spurs at White Hart Lane and that is likely to mean coming up against Wales international Gareth Bale.
It is something that O’Brien is just taking in his stride.
“Bale is a super player, but at the end of the day he is just a footballer,” said O’Brien.
“He’s abused players better than me, so hopefully he doesn’t have a good day!”
West Ham have already won two away games in the Premier League this season, at Queens Park Rangers and Newcastle United and Sam Allardyce’s side will be hungry for more come Sunday at White Hart Lane.
“It will be a really hard game, they have some brilliant players,” said O’Brien.
“But we will be going there to win it.
“We did it at Newcastle and I don’t think too many people expected us to win at St James’ Park, so we will look at doing it against Spurs,” concluded the West Ham full back.