Tuesday 16 January 2018

Whitehead strike halts Potters' slide

Stoke 3
Birmingham 2

Sandy Macaskill

Tony Pulis is a man who probably smells a conspiracy when his toast lands butter-side down, so he spent the week working himself into a lather about unfair refereeing decisions and nurturing his belief that nobody cares about Stoke except Stoke.

The siege mentality approach did the trick, though, his side winning for the first time since the second day in October with goals from Robert Huth, Ricardo Fuller and Dean Whitehead.

Birmingham did their best to recreate their recovery from two down against West Ham at the weekend and came mighty close, Keith Fahey -- with a real cracker -- and Cameron Jerome scoring within two minutes of each other, but they left the doors open in defence, Whitehead scoring when it seemed the Blues were the better team.

Stoke's tactic, as usual, was to play football in its binary form: biff it into the box and let Kenwyne Jones try and head it in.

At least Stoke have a plan, unlike Birmingham -- unless Alex McLeish told his players to play this badly. Having offered nothing, it was a case of having to survive until half-time.

Determined they should not do so, Stoke had a rummage and Ricardo Fuller launched a shot that fell to Huth, who banged it in.

Into the second half and Stoke extended their lead through Fuller.

When your top scorer is a defender you have to be realistic about the number of times you can come back from two down, but Fahey found the right corner of the net. Two minutes later Jerome headed into the other.

Again Stoke surged to the other end, Whitehead finding himself in the right place at the right time to finish off Matthew Etherington's cross. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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