Writer: Charlie Bennett
Date:Thursday March 5 2009
Stoke rallied to another home victory after they out played a mediocre Bolton side to move out of the relegation zone. Goals either side of half-time from James Beattie and Ricardo Fuller gave Stoke there first win by more than a one goal margin in over a year.
Stoke boss Pulis made three changes from the dramatic turn of events at Villa Parkas he drafted Rory Delap straight back in after completing his suspension and Glenn Whelan was deservedly given the nod ahead of Amdy Faye. Captain Abdoulaye Faye passed a late fitness test to resume his place at the back instead of Ibrahima Sonko. Also passing a fitness test was Thomas Sorensen who went off injured on Sunday.
Stoke started the brighter team with creative winger Liam Lawrence delivering several teasing crosses and Glenn Whelan spreading the ball to all places on the pitch. It was Bolton however who almost opened the scoring as Johan Elmander, who scored against Stoke in the reverse fixture, got his toe on the end of a Matthew Taylor cross from 4yrds. Thomas Sorensen in the City goal made a great reaction save and palmed the ball over the bar.
Stoke then did score after a quarter of an hour through James Beattie. Bolton didn`t clear after Faye`s long ball and Whelan, who would have a major part in both goals, headed straight through the middle of the Wanderers rearguard for Beattie. The new signing thumped the ball pass the stranded Jussi Jaaskelainen for his fifth goal in seven appearances and gave Stoke the early advantage. Bolton didn`t take this lying down as Elmander tried his luck again from 30yrds and Taylor tested Sorensen`s reflexes.
Minutes later Stoke almost doubled their lead as Shawcross got his head on the end of Lawrence`s cross only to see it rise over the bar. Both the Stoke centre-backs had a faultless game even though they were both carrying injuries later in the match.
It was Taylor again who forced Sorensen in to a smart save down at his near post, a dangerous free-kick was swung low and hard by Taylor but the big Dane got low and saved well. Cheers raised the roof as the half time whistle went as news came that both Middlesbrough and Newcastle were failing to win and if Stoke were too hold on they would be clear of the relegation places.
Stoke made two early changes in the second half as the disappointing Salif Diao made way for Amdy Faye and the ineffective Mamady Sidibe came off to be replaced by Ricardo Fuller. Fuller changed the game dramatically against Aston Villa and Pulis was hoping he could do the same again.
He almost had an immediate impact as a nice one-two with the advancing Andy Wilkinson, who would go on to have another great game, saw the full-back fire just past the post after his shot took a deflection. Bolton still kept the pressure on as Kevin Davies fired wide before they did have the ball in the back of the net. A whipped in ball from Mark Davies was touched in by Kevin only for the ref to rule it out for obstruction on Sorensen.
The return of Rory Delap brought much anticipation from the home fans and he gave in a tiring performance adding to his most potent weapon, the throws. His long rocket launched throw was the catalyst of Stoke`s second goal as Bolton again failed to clear and Whelan cracked a shot from the edge of the box. Jaaskelainen failed to hold on and Fuller was there to crash the ball into the roof of the net to send home fans wild. That was the seventh of the season for Fuller as he continued to defy critics saying he isn`t premier league standard.
With the two goal cushion now in place the hosts relaxed and set upon playing neat football. Sonko almost added a third as his towering head crashed off the bar and denied him his first Potters goal. Liam Lawrence should have scored after a brilliantly constructed move involving Fuller, Beattie and Whelan, the Irish international attempted to round the keeper instead of burying it earlier.
Bolton`s attempt for a consolation was admirable as Elmander was set upon beating Sorensen. His volley from 30yrds was tipped superbly round the post by the Danish number 1 who enjoyed one of his best performances in a Potters shirt.
This result moves Stoke up to 15th in the table on 29 points and 2 clear of Blackburn in 18th. Next up they make the short visit to Goodison Park to face an Everton side chasing a European place.
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Date:Thursday March 5 2009
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