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Stoke and West Ham edge to safety with draw

Andre Ayew’s acrobatic overhead kick was the highlight

Stoke and West Ham edged closer to Premier League safety after a goalless draw at the Bet365 Stadium.

Mark Hughes will be the happier of the two managers after the Potters passed the 40 point mark, nine points clear of Swansea in 18th with three games remaining.

In a match with plenty of chances, goalkeepers Jack Butland and Adrian were in top form to ensure both sides kept a clean sheet.

Andre Ayew had the best of West Ham’s chances, with an acrobatic overhead kick forcing an equally impressive save from Butland.

Marko Arnautovic looked to be through on goal, but his volley from point-blank range was denied by Adrian.

A happy homecoming for Butland

Today was Jack Butland’s first home game in 13 months

The biggest cheer of the afternoon came when Jack Butland’s name was announced prior to kick-off.

Today was the 24-year-old’s first Premier League appearance at home since 12 March 2016 – 413 days ago after an ankle injury ruled him out of action.

The Stoke goalkeeper was called into action early on when Manuel Lanzini forced a save inside the first minute. The West Ham midfielder cut inside from the left, but his shot wasn’t enough to trouble Butland.

Butland was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the first half, and he produced a moment of magic to deny what would have been a spectacular goal from Ayew’s overhead kick.

England manager Gareth Southgate, who was watching on from the stands, will no doubt like what he saw from Butland, who picked up his ankle injury in England’s 3-2 win over Germany last March.

“I felt really good just being out there again. I’m pleased to be able to contribute and keep a clean sheet today,” said Butland after the game.

“The fans have been incredible throughout the last 13 months and supported me. It’s been tough personally and I thoroughly enjoyed the really good reception today.”

More to follow.

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