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Stoke 2 – 1 Tottenham (12/12/11)

12 December 2011 by

It was, simply, Stoke’s finest game of the season. This match had everything, from red-cards to red-faced managers.

And so to it, yesterday’s clash between Stoke and Tottenham at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke named a relatively unchanged side, with midfielder Jermaine Pennant the surprise omission from the squad. I refuse to speculate on the reason behind Pennant’s surprising exclusion. Make of it, what you will.

Harry Redknapp, recently recovered from heart surgery, has an abundance of talent at his disposal, as was evident in his team selection. An all-star lineup has been assembled, boasting the likes of Modric, Parker and Bale.

Within 40 seconds, Stoke’s Matthew Etherington had a chance to open the scoring. The winger’s volley was beaten away by keeper Brad Friedel, but this was enough to raise the decibel level inside the stadium.

12 minutes went by, with Stoke working tirelessly to nullify the threat of Tottenham’s midfield trio of Bale, Van Der Vaart and Modric.

Then, it was 1-0. Ryan Shotton’s deflected cross was flicked on by Jon Walters, Crouch made a run across the box and, with the aid of his hand, controlled to give Etherington an easy task. Redemption for the winger, previously of Tottenham. The goal shouldn’t have stood, but Stoke got a stroke of luck, and Redknapp’s side were behind.

Modric went close with a long-range effort after 32 minutes. Besides that, Tottenham threatened with some aesthetic build-up play but couldn’t deliver the end product.

Just before the half-time break, Stoke were two in front. A very similar move to the first, with ultimately the same result. Shotton, deputising for Delap in the long throw department, hurled one in and Walters flicked it on to Etherington, who netted for Stoke at the back post despite not getting the cleanest of strikes.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp would have been understandably furious at half-time. His side were unbeaten in 11 matches in the Premier League, but had fallen victim to Stoke’s deadly weapon; the set pieces.

Sebastien Bassong and Jermaine Defoe came on for Tottenham at half-time, hoping to be the catalyst’s for an improved Tottenham performance.

Bassong wasted a chance ill afforded to the opposition against Stoke. The defender rose for a free header from a Modric corner, but couldn’t direct his effort goal wards.

Tottenham were undoubtedly the better side after the break, and their improved play paid dividends after 61 minutes. Glenn Whelan was adjudged to have brought Luka Modric down inside the box, and referee Chris Foy pointed to the spot. Adebayor duly obliged, sending the Tottenham fans behind the goal into euphoria. A cool finish from the Togo striker. Modric received persistent heckling from the Stoke support, as it seemed that the Croatian went down belatedly after the initial contact from Whelan.

Scott Parker went close with a strong shot that required Thomas Sorenson to tip the ball past the post. A let off for Stoke. Adebayor saw his shot fly just shy of the corner when he tried to curl the ball past Sorenson.

It truly was like the Alamo towards the end for Stoke. Modric again saw his left foot shot parried away by Sorenson on 74 minutes. From the immediate corner, Tottenham worked a short corner and Modric delivered an exquisite outside-of-the-foot cross that alluded his team-mates. All but one anyway, as Kaboul was there to strike a strong effort that was cleared by a collection of Huth and Shawcross on the line. I use the term ‘cleared’ lightly, as Shawcross, on further inspection, used his arm to get the ball away.

Adebayor was then ruled offside after the ball was sent back in to the Stoke area. After consulting replays, it has been revealed that Adebayor was onside, courtesy of Stoke’s Marc Wilson. The ball eventually ended up in the net, but whether this would have happened without the call of offside can be disputed.

Younes Kaboul was then sent off for a second yellow card offence, bringing down Jon Walters as he raced to protect Stoke’s lead. It was yet another questionable decision from Chris Foy, who should surely spend a week in the Championship.

Stoke had two opportunities of their own after weathering the storm of Tottenham’s illustrious attack. Ryan Shawcross was the benefitor of both chances, as he produced two excellent headers to test Brad Friedel and the woodwork.

2-1 was how it finished, and Stoke collected their third Premier League win in a row. How a season can change. Next up is the final Europa League group stage match against Turkey’s Besiktas. Pulis has already confirmed he will name a much changed lineup considering his side’s earlier progression to the last 32.

Mick McCarthy’s Wolves await at the weekend, another tough test against a team that will be raring to go after their thumping by Manchester United. Football never stops.

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