Sunday 21 January 2018

Mark Hughes shares in relief as Stoke strike late to earn first league win

Mark Hughes saw his Stoke side pick up their first league win of the campaign on Saturday
Mark Hughes saw his Stoke side pick up their first league win of the campaign on Saturday

Stoke boss Mark Hughes praised his team for battling through a bout of anxiety to claim their first Barclays Premier League win of the season on Saturday.

The Potters were on course for victory over Bournemouth at half time in the contest at the Britannia Stadium, enjoying a 1-0 lead courtesy of Jonathan Walters' 32-minute goal, but were then pegged back by Dan Gosling's 76th-minute equaliser.

A week on from drawing 2-2 at home with Leicester after being 2-0 up at the interval, it seemed Hughes' men might have once again blown the chance to get the monkey off their backs.

However, nerves among Stoke fans around the ground subsequently turned to joy and relief as substitute Mame Biram Diouf headed in with seven minutes to go before the final whistle confirmed a 2-1 victory.

Hughes said: "In the second half we probably played with a little bit of apprehension and tried to protect the lead more than we should have done.

"I think that allowed Bournemouth to have a little bit more of the play and get back into the game.

"It is understandable, to a certain extent.

"But I thought we showed good courage after that, because it could have been very easy for Bournemouth to gain momentum after the equaliser, but we didn't allow that.

"It showed courage and determination to make sure we got at least a draw - and we actually went down the other end to try to get a winner, and were thankfully able to do that through a great ball from Glen Johnson and good finish by Mame Diouf."

Bournemouth suffered a significant early blow when their top scorer Callum Wilson was carried off on a stretcher in the 17th minute having sustained what appeared a serious knee injury.

While unable to say how long Wilson might be out for, Cherries boss Eddie Howe admitted afterwards that things did not look good for the striker.

And he says he cannot believe the bad luck the club have had on the fitness front.

Howe has already lost Tyrone Mings and Max Gradel to major knee injuries this term, and said: "It is a difficult one for the players - we have had that three times now this season, which is unbelievable luck from our perspective.

"To get three in one team, to key players as well, is mystifying really.

"There is nothing you can do about it - it is just one of those things that happens on a football pitch from time to time.

"But to get three similar ones... I don't know what to say about it really."

He added: "They (his players) didn't react very well to it (at first) - we lost our momentum and flow.

"But credit to them, they showed good adaptability and came out for the second half looking to put things right. For me, we deserved to win the game."

Press Association

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