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By Marc Isaacs
LONDON, April 16 (Reuters) - Stoke City manager Paul Lambert had nothing but praise for his team despite them conceding an added-time equaliser at West Ham United on Monday and was convinced they could still produce a great escape to maintain their Premier League status.
Stoke were heading for their first away win since October after substitute Peter Crouch capitalised on a mistake from keeper Joe Hart after 79 minutes to tap home from close-range.
Victory would have moved second-bottom Stoke above Southampton and three points from the safety zone but they failed to hold on and Andy Carroll came off the bench to show his quality with a superb volley past Jack Butland.
Despite dropping two crucial points, Lambert said he still took a number of positives from the result and felt his team would stand a fighting chance of beating the drop if they beat Burnley at home on Sunday.
“I thought we deserved something. I thought we played a really good game and if we keep playing like that, we will win games,” Lambert told a post-match news conference.
“But we have been playing really well of late. I keep saying it - if there is a little bit of Lady Luck, it has certainly not come our way. But performance-wise it was very good.
“I think if the team had been playing this way from August, I wouldn’t be here and they wouldn’t be in the position they are in. West Ham turned over Stoke a few months ago. They are still looking for points as well. With the atmosphere in stadium, it is a difficult place to come but I thought we were excellent.”
The draw leaves Stoke on 28 points from 34 games, level with Southampton and five behind 17th placed Swansea City who both have a game in hand, while West Ham are 14th with 35 points.
“If we can do that (beat Burnley), it will set the cat right among the pigeons,” said Lambert. “We’e playing well, we have an incredible support behind us, and I’m pretty sure come Sunday, there won’t be many stadiums rocking the way ours can rock.
“If the supporters do what I think they’ll do, we just have to turn up and try and get a win. Regardless of how we do it, we have to get a win but we certainly will drag teams into it.”
West Ham had three efforts ruled out after Marko Arnautovic was twice offside and Carroll handled inside the box but Lambert said his team were due a bit of luck and felt they deserved to come away from east London with a point.
He added: “I must have walked under a ladder or broken a mirror somewhere because I have not had any luck whatsoever.
“I was due it, the team was due it, the football club was due it and, if it is offside, it doesn’t matter if it is marginally offside, or close, it is offside.” (Reporting by Marc Isaacs; Editing by Ken Ferris)