Stoke 2-0 Sunderland
23rd November 2013 3pm
Stoke secured a vital 2-0 win over 10 man Sunderland to record their first premier league win since the end of August to relieve some of the pressure as The Potters sat perilously close to the drop zone.
A neat finish from Charlie Adam in the 30 minute got the Potters started before a 'debatable' red card for Wes Brown helped settle the nerves around the Britannia. Steven Nzonzi then settled the game with his first of the season with 10 minutes to go.
Stoke made two changes from the rollercoaster draw at Swansea as Glenn Whelan and Charlie Adam replaced Wilson Palacios and the injured Stephen Ireland respectively. But it was the visitors who made the more impressive start as the Potters struggled for any fluency.
Sunderland created the first real chance when a through ball caught Shawcross and Huth off guard and appealing for offside, Steven Fletcher brought the ball down with a suspicion of handall, but his shot was brilliantly saved by the ever reliable Begovic. And there was yet more panic in the Stoke defence when a punt up field found Robert Huth floundering and the ball spinning off the back of his boot past Asmir Begovic only to be cleared off the line by captain Shawcross.
Just as anxiety started to grow Stoke grabbed the opening goal. Crouch and Cameron displayed good feet before the latter lifted a through ball to allow Steven Nzonzi to head into the box, he pulled the ball back for Adam to slot home from the edge of the box.
The crowd were just starting to settle when the matches' most controversial moment occurred. Wes Brown took a sloppy touch before lunging into a challenge on goalscorer Adam. In truth worse tackles go unpunished every week across the country, but it was a stroke of luck Stoke were happy to recieve against The Black Cats, and you can't help thinking Robert Huth may have had a little giggle when we consider his sending off in the same fixture 2 years ago.
Stoke looked to make the extra man count at the start of the second half as the impressive CAmeron continued to attack and deliver threatening crosses down the right, but the Potters continued to fail to take advantage and you couldn't help but worry this may come back to haunt them, especially when Adam blazed over from 25 yards with better options available to him.
The Potters also had to deal with the loss of the influential Robert Huth as Andy Wilkinson came on for the injured German, and Cameron moved inside to centre back. Begovic again came to Stoke's rescue as he came off his line to bravely clear the ball just in front of the dangerous Fletcher. Sunderlands players and bench appealed for a penalty in vain.
Then with 10 minutes left more clever passing involving Adam freed Crouch who timed his ball through to Nzonzi perfectly for the enigmatic Frenchman to chip the ball over the onrushing Mannone to settle the game.
It was his first goal of the season and offered even more evidence of the role that Mark Hughes is asking him to play.
The win saw the Potters move up and away from the relegation zone, and helps give the team some confidence heading into a tough run of fixtures which include Everton away and Chelsea at home in the next two weeks.