Writer: Niall Cope
Date:Sunday December 16 2012
A hard-fought 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium will undoubtedly be overshadowed by the events of Everton player Marouane Fellaini.
The Belgian international clearly headbutted City captain Ryan Shawcross in the second half and will certainly face retrospective action from the Football Association.
Alongside his two assistants, referee Mark Halsey missed the incident as well as what also seemed to be two other acts of violent behaviour from Fellaini.
Both teams went into the match having drawn half their Premier League games this season and it would prove to be a close encounter between the pair.
Stoke made two changes from their game against Aston Villa last weekend, with Charlie Adam who returned from suspension replacing Dean Whitehead in midfield, whilst Andy Wilkinson came in for Ryan Shotton at full back.
The opening to the game was rather scrappy as both teams fired in efforts that failed to trouble either Asmir Begovic or Tim Howard.
Stoke started to grow into the match however and forced Howard into a couple of good saves including a shot from former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Steven Nzonzi. However it wasn`t to last as the visitors took the lead shortly after.
Before the match, much of the talk on terraces was about when Ryan Shawcross was going to sign his new six-year deal, and the defender was being talking about again when he went from hero to zero in the space of three minutes.
The former Manchester United player did well to deny what was a certain goal from Steven Naismith after clearing the ball off the line, but when Steven Piennar swung in a deep cross, Shawcross flicked the ball over a helpless Begovic in the Stoke goal to give Everton the lead.
The Toffees almost doubled their advantage just before the interval, but somehow after good approach play between Piennar and Leighton Baines, Leon Osman proceeded to fire wide with the goal at his mercy.
That miss seemed to change the complexion of the game as The Potters came out for the second half a different side.
Within minutes of the restart, Stoke got the goal their early second half dominance deserved. With Peter Crouch warming up on the touchline, Kenwyne Jones out-jumped Phil Jakielka to head home into the bottom corner from Shawcross` lofted ball into the box.
Jones, a player who clearly thrives on confidence almost turn the game on its head moments later, but after making a fine dart inside the box he was unable to apply a telling finished, instead rattling the post with his thigh.
Then came the moment of controversy that will certainly see Fellaini banned for at least three games. The midfielder checked to see the position of the referee from an Everton corner before proceeding to headbutt Shawcross flush in the face.
To Shawcross` credit, the Stoke captain got up without chasing the referee brandishing an imaginary red card, although he would have been astonished to see the Belgian get away without punishement.
The tussle between the two continued as the Everton man seemed to back his head into Shawcross before swinging an arm towards the defender. All of which went unpunished by the match officials.
Both teams went in search of a winner in the closing stages of the game and Stoke substitutes Peter Crouch and Cameron Jerome almost combined, but the former was unable to get enough power on his lob, whilst Darron Gibson saw his long range effort deflected wide.
From the resulting corner Fellaini once again hit out at Shawcross, this time with a blatant smash to the face with his hand.
The game petered out in the closing stages, but it will be the acts of violence from Marouane Fellaini that will dominate the headlines over the coming days as he faces up to a lengthy suspension.
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Date:Sunday December 16 2012
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