Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Wednesday October 18 2006
Two goals in five minutes allowed the Potters to gain all three points for the second time in four days but it was overshadowed by an injury to debutant Rory Delap, who was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg.
Tony Pulis gave new loan signings Salif Diao and Rory Delap their home debut. Delap had been given permission by his Sunderland manager, Roy Keane to play allowing Pulis to name an unchanged starting eleven after the Potters' 4-0 rout of Leeds on Saturday.
The game started slowly as both sides looked wary of each other. Sunderland had come to the Brit fresh from a 4-1 hammering at Preston at the weekend and the Stoke players were obviously on their guard in case of a Black Cats' backlash. Indeed there were nearly ten minutes on the clock before either side even managed to force a goal kick. After that the game increased in tempo with Mamady Sidibe and Vincent Pericard in attack creating chances.
After only 15 minutes, Delap was caught by a late tackle from Elliot right on the edge of the pitch by the dug-outs. It was instantly apparent to the Stoke coaching staff that Delap had a major injury. Amazingly the referee seemed disinclined to even stop the play and never even gave a free kick. Delap was stretchered off with a suspected broken leg. Very bad luck for the player who hopes to be signed by the Potters in the January transfer window, especially as he had been relishing his home debut against his own club. Luke Chadwick came on to replace the stricken Delap.
Stoke seemed to stutter after this enforced change to the game plan and in the 28th minute a goal mouth melee allowed Dwight Yorke to fire home Whitehead's corner from nine yards.
Stoke came out of for the second half, determined to make amends. They dominated the play and came at the Sunderland defence. After only five minutes, Lee Hendrie was unmarked on the left hand side of the penalty area and fired home a low shot straight into the bottom left of the goal for the equaliser.
Stoke continued to battle and with the Black Cats on the ropes it only took four minutes for the Potters to find themselves in the lead. Good play again from Hendrie gave Andy Griffin the chance to put the perfect cross straight onto the head of Vincent Pericard and the big forward had no problem putting a powerful header past the keeper into the net.
Stoke then tended to sit back and allowed Sunderland to come more into the game. Time and time again Sunderland launched raids at the Stoke defence and were it not for some brave goalkeeping from Simonsen and some wild punts down the park by the Stoke defenders, Sunderland could have got back into the game on several occasions.
If I have a criticism, it's the way they sat back and allowed Sunderland too much possession towards the end. Whilst defending corners, a Pulis team will always bring everyone back, any clearance will therefore nearly always go to an opposition player, who just kicks the ball back into the penalty area. Still, I can't take anything away from another great performance by the Potters and they fully justified their win.
Oh what a difference four days make!
Stoke: Simonsen, Hoefkens, Higginbotham, Duberry, Griffin, Delap (Chadwick 12), Russell, Diao, Hendrie (Brammer 79), Sidibe (Fuller 68), Pericard.
Subs Not Used: Bangoura, Wilkinson.
Sunderland: Ward, Nosworthy, Varga, Danny Collins, Robbie Elliott (Clarke 46), Liam Miller, Leadbitter, Whitehead (Brown 69), Wallace (Murphy 69), Connolly, Yorke.
Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Lawrence.
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Date:Wednesday October 18 2006
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