Ten man Stoke fall to 4th chasing Spurs
Niko Kranjcar struck a late winner to condemn Stoke to their second defeat in three home matches and lift Spurs back to 4th place. Eidur Gudjohnsson had given Spurs the lead only seconds after half-time after a catalogue of errors from the Stoke defence. Dean Whitehead then saw red for two debateable yellow cards but Matthew Etherington soon levelled things up from the spot before Kranjcar popped up to drive the ball past the despairing Sorensen.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis made 2 changes from the side that drew with Villa last week. Both strikers Mama Sidibe and Tuncay were dropped to the bench and replaced by Ricardo Fuller and Dave Kitson. Ryan Shawcross, now back from his 3 match ban, missed out through injury.
Tottenham`s injury woes were also evident with no less then 5 inexperienced youngsters on the bench. Jermaine Defoe, Aaron Lennon, Jermaine Jenas, David Bentley, Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King, all first team regulars, all injured.
Stoke started the brighter side and Rory Delap teased goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes with some flat throws. Dave Kitson looked lively and enjoyed a good battle with Spurs captain Michael Dawson, which he regularly won. However Delap`s pace, or lack of, was becoming a problem down the Stoke right as Gareth Bale looked like Spurs major threat as whipped in some dangerous balls for the likes of Peter Crouch.
Stoke went close early though when Kitson flicked on a cross for Abdoulaye Faye who headed wide from 4 yards. Kitson himself then went and brought a marvellous top save from Gomes with a flick header from a Delap throw that looked like it was creeping in.
Spurs looked strong in midfield and Luka Modric controlled the ball superbly and was the architect of all Spurs attacking play. Roman Pavlyuchenko had a couple of decent efforts from distance before being replaced by Gudjohnsson. The in-form Russian injured his hamstring and is now another on the long list of Spurs casualties.
The Potters kept plugging away at the Spurs back line and Higginbotham went close with a header before Fuller curled an effort straight at Gomes when well placed.
The midfield though of Glenn Whelan and Dean Whitehead struggled with the latter picking up a deserved yellow card. Whelan`s passing wasn`t up to standard and Whitehead couldn`t keep control of either Modric or Krancjar.
It was an even affair at half-time with both sides looking dangerous but it was Harry Redknapp`s men who took the lead straight after the break. A long ball was nicely flicked on by Crouch for Gudjohnsson who showed a burst of pace and strength to hold of Faye before riffling the ball past the helpless Sorensen,
Things got worse for Stoke as Mike Dean showed a second yellow to Dean Whitehead for obstruction. Whitehead became Dean`s sixth red card of the season, three of them are Stoke players. Tony Pulis and Stoke were so aggrieved before hand that Dean was to officiate the game, they wrote to the FA asking then to change Dean for another official.
After a five minute spell where Stoke looked demoralised the crowd got behind them and pushed them on. An equaliser then soon followed as Assou-Ekotto was adjudged to have bundled over Kitson in the box and the ref pointed to the spot. Interestingly it was Etherington who stood up and although he rarely takes penalties for Stoke he sent Gomes the wrong way to bring the scores level.
Surprisingly Pulis went with an attacking mind-set and Stoke searched for a win. Fuller should have given them the lead after Higginbotham layed him off, the Jamaican blasted the ball high into the stands from 5 yards with the goal gaping.
Redknapp`s men seized control back from the Potters and Assou-Ekotto raced down the left before laying the ball for Gudjohnsson who cleverly dummied it for the onrushing Kranjcar who lashed the ball home.
Kitson and Whelan were soon withdrawn and replaced by Sidibe and Tuncay. The Turk who had a point to prove had a sense of urgency about him and won both corners and throws as Stoke bombed forward.
The most guilt edged chance came Sidibe`s way as he read Bassong`s back header but slipped at the crucial moment as he looked to pip Gomes to the ball. Spurs hung on for an impressive victory that leaves them fourth. Stoke stay 11th on 36 points and next up is a trip to West Ham next Saturday.