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Bolton Wanderers 3-1 Stoke City

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Stoke slipped to defeat at the hands of Bolton in their first ever Premier League match at the Reebok Stadium. The damage was done in a mad fifteen minute spell in  the first half in which The Potters conceded all three goals. Ricardo Fuller grabbed Stoke’s first goal of the season late on in the second half.

   It was Stoke who had the best of the opening minutes, with the majority of the play being inside Bolton’s half. Despite forcing a few trademark Rory Delap long throws, the bolton defence remained firm. The first real chance for the Stoke team, which included debuatants Dave Kitson, Seyi Olofinjana and Thomas Sorensen came after 20 minutes, when Leon Cort guided a free header from a Glenn Whelan free kick straight at Bolton ‘keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. The offside flag had though been raised, meaning the goal would have stood if Cort had converted the chance.

  The first scare for Sorensen in the Stoke goal came just minutes later, the ball drifting just wide of the post as Kevin Nolan failed to make significant contact on Matt Taylor’s low cross.

  The deadlock was broken on 34 minutes, with Icelandic midfielder Gretar Steinsson putting the hosts ahead. He hit what was surely intended as a cross into the Stoke area on the half volley, the ball however had other ideas, swerving sharply over the helpless Sorensen and into the net off the crossbar.

  Up to this point, Stoke had probably just edged the game, but this was about to change in the spell until half time. The lead was doubled on 41 minutes with Kevin Nolan flicking a header past Sorensen who seemed to be unsure whether to try and claim the cross or remain on his line. Nolan beat two defenders in the air to connect with Gary Cahill’s cross and score the goal.

  Things got worse for Stoke a minute before half time, with Bolton’s Swedish striker Johan Elmander, a summer signing from Toulouse nodding in Joey O’Brien’s free kick from twelve yards with the Stoke marking absent and Sorensen helpless to make the half time score 3-0.

  Stoke managed to steady the ship somewhat in the second half, despite early pressure, Dave kitson clearing a goal-bound Nolan effort and Sorensen saving well to his right from a Taylor header.

  Stoke introduced player of the season Liam Lawrence shortly before the hour mark and Ricardo Fuller ten minutes later, a move that gave the blunt Stoke attack some much needed edge. Lawrence soon created Stoke opportunities with his accurate cross being sent just over the bar by Cort and his low centre following a winding Fuller run being turned wide by Rory Delap.

  As the game reached it’s closing minutes, Delap almost repeated Steinsson’s feat, his mis-struck cross bouncing off the top of Jaaskelainen’s crossbar before going behind.

  Stoke did get their reward a minute into stoppage time, with some nice passing play in midfield setting up substitute Carl Dickinson to whip the ball into the box. Fuller met his perfect cross and headed powerfully home into the left hand corner of the goal, giving Stoke their first ever Premier League goal and the travelling fans something to cheer about.

Stoke team (4:4:2):

                        Sorensen

Griffin  Cort  Shawcross  Wilkinson

Delap  Whelan  Olofinjana  Cresswell

                  Sidibe  Kitson   

Subs: Lawrencefor Whelan (56), Fuller for Sidibe (65), Dickinson for Wilkinson (75)

Subs not used:  Simonson, Pericard, Diao, Amdy Faye

Attendance: 22717

                                      

                            Fuller grabbed Stoke’s first ever Premier League goal

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