Hughes singles out two for praise
Published 29/03/2014 | 21:02
Stoke boss Mark Hughes praised forward Peter Odemwingie and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic after their crucial contributions helped the Potters to a 1-0 Barclays Premier League victory over Hull at the Britannia Stadium.
Odemwingie notched the winning goal, the January capture from Cardiff scoring for a third successive game by cracking the ball home from the edge of the box in the 62nd minute.
Not long before that, Begovic had pulled off a great save to keep out a David Meyler shot that had taken a wicked deflection.
Regarding 32-year-old Odemwingie, who saw his three-year stint with West Brom turn sour following a failed attempt to join QPR, then struggled to make an impact for Cardiff after switching to them last summer, Hughes said: "We are pleased with what he is producing.
"He wasn't a risk really because he is an accomplished Premier League player and has scored goals at this level.
"We knew what we were getting, but you always hope the period of coming to a new club and settling down is short, and in fairness to Peter he has come in and seamlessly picked up some outstanding form.
"I think that comes with being happy in his environment and with the players that surround him, and we are reaping the benefits."
When then asked about Begovic, Hughes said: "I thought we restricted Hull to very few clear-cut opportunities, but Asmir once again has come up with an outstanding save from a shot that was deflected, which made it even more difficult.
"He has done that sort of thing all year to be perfectly honest and it is what we expect of him now.
"He is a top goalkeeper, and in my view there are very few that are better than him.
"He is consistent and has good stature and presence on the field and off it."
Hughes' 10th-placed side have now won three games in a row, four of their last five and lost only one of their last nine.
They have also reached 40 points, the tally generally regarded as a guarantee of safety, with six games to go.
Hughes is in no doubt Stoke's place in the top-flight is secure - indeed, he was fairly sure after last week's 4-1 win at Aston Villa.
And he is feeling good about the Potters' prospects of improving on their best-ever Premier League final position of 11th and points tally of 47 this term.
The Welshman, appointed as Stoke manager last summer, said: "Given the situation of other clubs, we are safe now in our view. We were probably safe already after last week's result.
"But today was key psychologically - that we got to that 40-point mark.
"We are pleased to have got the result today without ever hitting the heights of recent performances. It was about getting the job done and we certainly did that.
"Now we have six games left and we want to see how far we can go.
"We have totals in our mind which we think are achievable - things we can do that no Stoke City team has done in the Premier League."
Odemwingie collected the ball in the build-up to his goal from a misplaced cross-field pass by Hull midfielder Ahmed Elmohamady.
And Tigers boss Steve Bruce said: "The one thing you can't eradicate is mistakes and unfortunately Elmo has made a horrible one today which he regrets and has cost us the game.
"That is a couple now - an own-goal in midweek (in the 2-1 loss at West Ham) and one today.
"We have prided ourselves on being difficult to play against and beat - that has got us into the situation we are in at the moment.
"But unfortunately, if you make mistakes at this level... sometimes you get away with it in the Championship, where we were last year, but today with Odemwingie - he still has a bit to do and it is a great finish, but we have gifted them something, when they never looked like breaking us down and we arguably had the best chances in the game."
Hull are 14th on 33 points, seven points above the relegation zone, and Bruce added: "I think the bottom 10... until you get that magical points total and are mathematically safe, everybody is still a bit edgy.
"But we have got ourselves in a wonderful position.
"I think a win and a couple of draws will be enough. But we have seen some crazy results, so you never quite know."