Writer: Charlie Bennett
Date:Thursday October 30 2008
29th October 2008
Stoke picked up their 3rd win of the premier league season with an impressive 1-0 victory over Sunderland. Ricardo Fuller's 4th league goal of the season was enough to ensure the Potters all 3 points on a freezing night in the potteries.
Tony Pulis decided to keep the same team that went down 3-0 at Man City with Ibrahima Sonko only deemed fit enough for the bench which allowed Ryan Shawcross to start his 3rd game of the campaign, Thomas Sorensen, Danny Higginbotham and Rory Delap lined up against their former team. Pulis did make a few changes on the substitute`s bench with Michael Tonge, Andy Wilkinson and surprisingly Vincent Pericard who has been in fine form for the reserves all came in. Leon Cort, Glenn Whelan and Richard Cresswell were made way.
In the Sunderland team was goalkeeper Marton Fulop who had a brief 2 day loan spell last season and almost joined the Potters in the summer and Kenwyn Jones who spent a season on loan at the Potters 5 seasons ago.
The game started in a scrappy way for both teams as both looked to stamp their mark on the early goings. It was Sunderland who managed the first chance of the game as Stoke skipper Andy Griffin slipped to allow lightning quick striker Djbril Cisse to get his shot away which Sorensen dived low to his right to gather.
Stoke had the crowd going and reaching noise levels that have seen them being announced as the loudest crowd in the premier league by winning early corners and throw-ins. It was one of those Rory Delap trademark throw-ins that almost gave Stoke the lead, Sidibe flicked on the incoming ball to the far post where Fuller was waiting and he stabbed it goalwards only to see it cleared off the line by 8million pound centre back Anton Ferdinand.
Sunderland right-back Phil Bardsley had his heart in his mouth moments later as a dangerous Seyi Olofinjana cross intended for Sidibe hit Bardsley and that went too close to the goal for his likening and gave Stoke another corner.
Cisse had another half chance for Sunderland as a hanging Bardsley cross found him and he headed over from 12 yards. The Stoke rearguard looked comfortable and at ease from the Sunderland attack, with Ryan Shawcross and Abdoulaye Faye winning everything in the air and winning everything on the floor.
As half time approached both teams looked to be happy with 0-0. Stoke looked to press on in the second half and Sunderland looking to snatch a goal to complete a great week for them that started with a 2-1 win over massive rivals Newcastle.
Sunderland manager Roy Keane decided to take off Dwight Yorke who seemed to have been injured in the first half and replace him with Kenwyn Jones who looked to make an impact at his former club.
Stoke had a great chance to take the lead in the shape of Mamady Sidibe, Tom Soares burst down the right and crossed well into the feet of Fuller, the Jamaican twisted and turned and fired a shot that took a couple of deflections and bounced towards the far post. The incoming Sidibe couldn't make contact and the ball rolled harmlessly wide for a goal kick.
Soares was later replaced by Michael Tonge in Pulis`s first change of the game. Things almost got out of hand shortly after when Steed Malbranque elbowed Higginbotham in the back of the head, the Stoke left-back immediately confronted Malbranque only to be calmed down and ushed away by manager Pulis.
This only spurred Stoke on and they got their reward with 16 minutes remaining. Another Delap throw-in, this time the former Sunderland star threw it flat and straight and waiting underneath was Ricardo Fuller. He out-jumped the Sunderland defence to power head the ball beyond Fulop and to send the 25,000 Stoke fans delirious.
Stoke refused to sit back and went for a second. A beautifully constructed move involving Olofinjana, Diao and Sidibe eventually fell to Tonge in acres of space. He threaded the ball perfectly through for Fuller who fired past the incoming Fulop only to see it canon the out side of the post and go out of play for a goal kick.
Sunderland almost snatched a draw at the death with Richardson releasing Jones who fired low across Sorensen, the Dane was more than up to the task producing a fine save and gathering at the second attempt.
Stoke held out for the win which sees the Potters fire up to 15th in the table going past Bolton, Wigan, Newcastle and fellow new boys West Brom. Next up for Stoke is a home match with Arsenal this coming Saturday, the Gunners drew 4-4 tonight which shows encouraging signs as Stoke will try to bully themselves to another victory.
Stoke City: Sorensen, Griffin (c), Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham, Soares (Tonge 70), Olofinjana (Amdy Faye 75), Diao, Delap, Sidibe, Fuller (Kitson 90). Subs not used. Simonsen, Wilkinson, Sonko, Pericard.
Sunderland: Fulop, Bardsley, Ferdinand, Collins, McCartney, Malbranque (Reid 75), Whitehead (c), Yorke (Jones 46), Richardson, Diouf, Cisse (Chopra 64). Suns not used: Colgan, Nosworthy, Tainio, Leadbitter.
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Date:Thursday October 30 2008
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