Stoke secure safety
Saturday 9th May 2009
The Potters finally secured a place in next season's Premier League thanks to strikes from Ricardo Fuller and Liam Lawrence.
The win propels us to the heady heights of 42 points and we now can't be caught by any of the current bottom four teams.
This was a game that the pundits had banked as a draw, with Stoke's poor away form cancelling out the Tigers' poor home form, but both teams proved them wrong with both keen for a result.
Stoke were buoyed by the inclusion of both Liam Lawrence and James Beattie who had been suffering from slight injuries over the past week. Tony Pulis make one change from the team that were beaten by the Hammers last weekend, preferring former Tiger, Leon Cort to Danny Pugh and moving Ryan Shawcross to the right hand side to counter the likely impact of veteran England international, Nick Barmby.
With Geovanni having had a scrap with fellow teammate, Cousin at Villa on Monday, Tigers' boss, Phil Brown decided to leave the influential Brazilian on the bench. A decision that he may rue should they eventually go down.
It was certainly the home side who had the best of the early chances, with Thomas Sorensen having to be alert to counter the threats of Cousin and Kilbane, but as the first half went on the Potters increased the pressure with Lawrence seeing shots go just wide of the post and landing on the roof of the net.
But with just five minutes to the interval, the Potters finally made the breakthrough. Lawrence's corner kick bobbled around the six yard box before Ricardo Fuller spun and fired the ball past the stranded Hull defence.
The second half started with the home side fighting to get back into the game, but Sorensen was on good form fending off a shot from Kilbane just after the restart.
But if the first half saw Lawrence have some good chances, the second 45 saw Glenn Whelan picking up the challenge to finish off the Tigers. Whelan had two good shots on goal, the first went just over the bar and then a second bounced off the corner of the goal posts with Myhill beaten.
In an odd move, Brown took off Cousin and Garcia, just when Garcia seemed to be starting to trouble the Stoke defence. He was then forced to bring on Geovanni when Zayatte suffered his second clash of heads in the game and had to be stretchered off.
But the Hull changes did little to help them, as Stoke increased their lead in the 73rd minute. Fuller broke away down the left hand side of midfield and found Lawrence clear on his right but still 25 yards from goal. Liam's subsequent rocket flew into the back of the net with the keeper immovable. Hull fans were stunned, Stokies were jubilant.
After that it seemed that the Tigers were more than a touch deflated as the referee added on six additional minutes, but the home side were awarded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area with just 60 seconds remaining and with the Stoke players waiting for Geovanni to kick it, Dawson curled the shot past the wall and Sorensen into the corner of the goal. It came far too late to save the Tigers, but it may just help their goal difference in hte final reckoning.
No need now just to dream of another season in the Premier League - we can now look forward to another. The celebrations will reach a climax next week as Wigan arrive at the Brit for the final home game. With the Latics equal on points with the Potters (but a game in hand, albeit against Man United), there is something still to play for with every higher position in the League earning the club more prize money.
Hull City: Myhill, Ricketts, Turner, Zayatte (Geovanni 67), Dawson, Garcia (Mendy 60), Boateng, Kilbane, Barmby, Fagan, Cousin (Manucho 60)
Subs not used: Duke, Hughes, Halmosi, Marney
Stoke City: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Cort, Lawrence, Delap, Whelan, Etherington (Pugh 85), Beattie (Cresswell 78), Fuller (Kelly 90)
Subs not used: Simonsen, Olofinjana, Camara, Sonko