LONDON (AP) — Andy Carroll scored a 90th-minute equalizer soon after coming off the bench to earn West Ham a 1-1 draw against Stoke, which was denied a vital win in its bid to escape relegation from the English Premier League on Monday.
Carroll's late strike spared the blushes of teammate Joe Hart, whose mistake allowed Peter Crouch — another second-half substitute — to put Stoke ahead in the 79th.
A victory for the visitors would have seen them move to within three points from safety and keep West Ham in real danger of going down. As it turned out, Stoke has five points to make up in its final four games if the team is to preserve its top-flight 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. He was sent on in the 86th in a last-gasp move by manager David Moyes and it paid off, with the striker volleying in a cross from Aaron Cresswell.
No one would have been happier to see the ball hit the back of the net than Hart.
The England goalkeeper has only just got back in the West Ham team after losing his place to Adrian at the end of November. In his first game back, he made a mistake for a goal in a 3-0 loss at Burnley on March 10, and this one against Stoke was almost an exact replica as he fumbled a shot in front of him by Xherdan Shaqiri.
Before Hart had a chance to hack the ball away with his feet, Crouch nipped in to score.
The errors won't help Hart's chance of regaining the England jersey off Jordan Pickford ahead of the World Cup in Russia — if he is included in the 23-man squad for the tournament.
The point left West Ham seven points clear of the relegation zone.