Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Stoke City 2 - 0 Bolton Wanderers

James Beattie proved again that he is a shrewd investment in Stoke's battle to secure their Barclays Premier League status as the Potters defeated Bolton 2-0 at the Britannia Stadium.

Signed in the January transfer window from Sheffield United, the striker got his side off to a flying start in this crucial clash by making it five goals in seven appearances.

Bolton never really recovered, and substitute Ricardo Fuller sealed the points by extending Stoke's lead in the 73rd minute.

Stoke went into the match with confidence after holding Aston Villa to a draw thanks to a late equaliser from Glenn Whelan.

The midfielder was rewarded with a place in the starting line-up and responded by setting up both goals.

Rory Delap and Abdoulaye Faye also returned, with manager Tony Pulis looking for his side to get away from the foot of the table.

Delap was left a little frustrated, however, because referee Mike Dean put a stop in the first half to his constant ploy of using a towel to dry the ball for his long-throws.

Bolton almost took the lead before Stoke made the breakthrough, Thomas Sorensen showing good reflexes to turn Johan Elmander's effort around the post in the 11th minute.

Stoke hit back and made the breakthrough in the 14th minute when Whelan split the Bolton defence with a headed through ball.

Beattie was the first to react as Bolton stood off and showed little hesitation to knock his effort beyond goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Bolton were struggling to string their passes together, and manager Gary Megson was already looking anxious in the technical area.

Matt Taylor sent his effort into Sorensen's body, before Stoke came close to adding a second.

Ryan Shawcross headed narrowly over the top in the 29th minute following an inswinging free-kick from Liam Lawrence.

Stoke were playing with confidence after that early goal from Beattie. Whelan and Lawrence were both busy and creative, and Bolton were kept on their toes.

Bolton were having trouble defending set-pieces, and Abdoulaye Faye got clear of his marker in the 42nd minute but headed over the top following a free-kick from Lawrence.

However, the visitors almost equalised a minute before the break after a sweet free-kick from Taylor.

He struck his 25-yard effort perfectly from an acute angle, only for Sorensen to turn it around the post.

Stoke had lost a bit of impetus, and manager Tony Pulis reacted by bringing on Fuller in the 58th minute for the ineffective Mamady Sidibe.

Delap was still causing mischief with his long throws, even though the towel had been abandoned, and launched one a minute later that finished on the roof of the net.

Fuller then played a neat one-two with Andy Wilkinson, but his well-struck shot was deflected to safety.

Sorensen then had to look alert two minutes later to to turn away a free-kick from Mark Davies at the back post.

Stoke extended their lead, with Whelan again having a hand in the goal. He rattled in a shot that Jaaskelainen could only parry, and Fuller was on hand to take advantage from close range.

It was the Jamaican's seventh goal of the season and put Stoke firmly in the driving seat.

Ibrahima Sonko almost added a third after stepping of the bench, his header coming back off the bar in the 79th minute before Sorensen blocked Elmander's effort in stoppage time.

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