Stoke vs Everton Match Report
Stoke City narrowly missed out on a win against high- flying Everton courtesy of a moment of madness by Jermaine Pennant.
The hosts started brightly and dictated the play in the opening 15 minutes. Everton gradually clawed their way back into the game and were unlucky not be in front after Kevin Mirallas's shot struck the crossbar with Thomas Sorenson lost at sea.
The Toffees began to tighten the screw and started to dominate possession midway through the first half. Just before the stroke of half time it was Mirallas again who struck the woodwork. This time his free-kick rebounded back off the post. Sorenson again looked beat.
The half time whistle came at a good time for Stoke who were treading water before the break. Mark Hughes was forced into a half time substitution as Jack Butland was introduced for his first taste of Premier League football.
Hughes' half time team talk may have still been ringing in the players' ears as Stoke City took the lead in the 49th minute. The Moroccan latched onto a poor clearance and coolly slotted into Tim Howard's bottom corner who's view was obstructed by his centre back pairing.
Jon Walters had been limping since early in the first half and was finally retreated in the 72nd minute for Jermaine Pennant in what would turn out to be the inciting incident to Stoke's undoing.
Pennant must have expected to be an unused sub yet again and had a New Year's Eve to remember based on his performance. From the moment he stepped foot onto the pitch he looked sub standard, committing many rash fouls on Leighton Baines in the short period that he was on.
It seemed as though it was going to be Stoke's day with Erik Pieters making several fine blocks, putting his body on the line to protect Butland's goal.
Deep into injury time Leon Osman skipped past a frustrated Jermaine Pennant in the penalty area and the Stoke winger hacked him down, leaving Andre Marriner with no choice but to award the penalty.
Leighton Baines sent Butland the wrong way and slotted home the penalty to equalise for the Toffees.
It was an impressive display by Stoke which has been overshadowed by Pennant's stupidity. A win against Everton would have made it three home wins on the bounce and would've given the fans a positive end to what has been a woeful Christmas. Stoke fans are let down by Pennant's actions who seems to enjoy the headlines more than he enjoys playing football.
He has been outstanding in recent weeks and his rich vein of form continued, capped with a finely taken goal.