Stoke City 1
1-0 Beattie 45
- Match reports
- 31 January 2009 14:40
- Posted by Leon Collins
The Blues remain unchanged from the side that saw off Newcastle on Wednesday as Mark Hughes looks to get an early away win chalked up on the board this weekend to keep his team firmly in the mid-table mix.
In a bright opening for the Blues, the first chance of the game fell to Stephen Ireland, but as the ball dropped from a great height the Irishman could only volley well wide from the edge of the box after eight minutes.
It was clear from the onset that only one side were here to play football...and they weren't Stoke. City looked calm in possession and passed the ball well, while Stoke got excited with every throw-in, giving Delap a chance to launch his missiles into the box.
After a few moments of Stoke pressure the Blues set off on a fine counter attack 20 minutes in. Led by Ireland, City broke at pace, with the midfielder finding the ever-willing Bellamy who galloped away before squaring it for Robinho. The Brazilian had more time than he maybe realised and fired a tame right footed shot straight at Sorensen from the edge of the area.
There was a long stoppage on the half hour after Nedum Onuoha had accidentally headed the back of Amdy Faye. Nedum was fine but it was Faye who required the treatment.
As if the Stoke versus City rivalry needed any more flames adding to fire but on 37 minutes Stoke's main threat, Rory Delap saw red for a foul on Wright-Phillips and a small portion of 'afters.'
Delap was seeking instant retribution for what he thought was a foul by SWP on a Stoke player and as the City winger ran off with the ball from that challenge, the Irishman kicked Wright-Phillips from behind then kicked the ball into him as he lay on the floor.
Needless to say Wright-Phillips, along with the rest of the City team, were booed right through until half time - which included five minutes of added on time.
But the boos turned to jeers during the additional time as James Beattie headed the ball home at the back post to give Stoke the lead after Etherington's good left wing cross.
HALF TIME: Stoke 1-0 City
City got the second half underway with Stoke making the only half time change. Ricardo Fuller was replaced by Richard Cresswell.
Stoke were more than happy to sit in two banks of four and frustrate City and on 51 minutes after some good possession, Robinho zipped a 25-yarder just wide, an example of how the Blues would have to work hard to break down the hosts and get in behind their backline.
Ten minutes into the half Zabaleta made way for Elano, who would maybe help unlock that stubborn Stoke door. Within a minute though the Brazilian was having his name taken by referee Atkinson for diving in on Etherington.
It was willing attack against resolute defence...typical of 11 versus 10...but Stoke still posed a threat on the rare occasion they got away on the counter attack.
Half chances came and went for City as Ireland was closest to getting his head on Elano's firce cross-shot and Bellamy blazed a volley high over the bar as the Blues pushed for the equaliser.
On 71 minutes Robinho then volleyed over from inside the box when well placed. Mark Hughes then sacrified his second holding midfielder, Nigel de Jong, bringing on forward Felipe Caicedo in a bid to find the goal they were pressing for.
Bellamy was the next City player to go close with a fine effort from distance, which just cleared the bar, after good work by Caicedo.With eight minutes left Micah Richards was an inch away from getting on the end of a clever Robinho pass as the Blues continued to push.
There was a late shout for a City penalty as Richards ran on into the box and went down after a tangle with Griffin - the replay suggested the ref might have been right not to give it.
Despite all their efforts the Blues couldn't get the leveller they chased for so long and with it the unbeaten run comes to an end as the search for an away win goes on.
FULL TIME: Stoke 1-0 City