Stoke carry on climbing
Another fine win on a cold blustery day at the Brit saw the Potters extend their unbeaten run to seven. Rangers arrived on the back of three consecutive defeats and although Stoke were not on top form it was clear that this QPR side were going to be no match for the mighty Potters.
Stoke, having not conceded a goal now for over ten hours of football, had to rely on a penalty from Danny Higginbotham to grab all three points, but this match was far from as close as the scoreline may suggest. Stoke dominated much of the game and with some better finishing should have had the points in the bag long before the final whistle.
Ricardo Fuller, just back from a quick trip back home to Jamaica, provided the penalty on 12 minutes when he was brought by Mauro Milanese just outside the right hand post. Danny Higginbotham, now installed as chief penalty-taker stepped and knocked the ball over the body of the diving keeper.
Stoke defence was as rock-solid as we have come to expect. Andy Griffin, playing the last game of his loan period was as influential as ever and we must hope that the negotiations that Tony Pulis has already started with Pompey's Harry Redknapp bear fruit very soon.
Steve Simonsen only had one save of note to make in the first 45 minutes - a speculative long shot from Stewart on the half time whistle caused a minor heart flutter as the reliable stopper caught on the ball on the goal line.
The second half saw plenty of midfield action but few shots on goal. The linesman's flag was heavily in evidence as Fuller and others were caught off-side on numerous occasions. Certainly something that TP may need to review in training next week.
Vincent Pericard replaced Fuller with 15 minutes remaining and Salif Diao, Stoke's midfield rock, limped off 5 minutes later to be replaced by Dave Brammer and on 80 minutes Patrik Berger came on for Lee Hendrie. It was the two subs, Pericard and Berger that should have wrapped it up just before the end with a nice cross in from Berger but Pericard, with the best chance of the day, mishit the ball from five yards with an open goal in front of him.
Still, we never complain about a win. If you can still get three points and climb to fifth in the Championship whilst not playing your best, it can't have been a bad day.
Stoke City: Simonsen, Hoefkens, Duberry, Higginbotham, Griffin, Lawrence, Diao (Brammer 80), Russell, Hendrie (Berger 87), Sidibe, Fuller (Pericard 74).
Subs not used: Sweeney, Buxton.
QPR: Royce, Bignot, Mancienne, Stewart, Milanese, Rowlands (Ward 87), Bailey, Gallen, Smith, Nygaard (Baidoo 90), Blackstock (Furlong 70).
Subs not used: Cole, Bircham.