Stoke still have their playoff hopes very much in their own hands. Yesterday they raised their points tally to 67,moved to 7th place,and are now only 1 point behind Preston in 6th.Preston continue to lose matches, above them Wolves and WBA got back to winning ways.Stoke's excellent goals difference could well count at some stage.
In truth Stoke should have won by a clearer margin yesterday.Strikers Fuller and Parkin again provided the goals.Parkin curled a beautiful shot from outside the box around the diving Palace keeper and into the corner of the net.Three goals in three games.It may be my imagination but he always seems to be in the right place at the right time.Yesterday he led the line with considerable determination and aplomb.
Fuller's effort carried his trademark.A lovely ball from Dickinson played him to the byline to the left side to the Palace penalty area.Marked by two defenders Fuller accelerated, bustled between them into the area as he does so often and fired a fierce shot which ricocheted into the net.
Unfortuately for Stoke Palace got themselves back into the game a few minutes later.From a corner Cort's header was on its way into the net.Zakuani's desperate diving effort to stop it, failed with an own goal being the result.
Stoke playing some beautiful slick interpassing football,at times making a good Palace side look very ordinary,created plenty of chances to extend their lead.At the end of the first half Hendrie,who had an excellent game,had a 1 on 1 with the keeper saved.Towards the end of the second half with people inevitably biting their fingernails Lawrence missed a sitter from 1 yard (or less!).It was difficult to make sense of what he was trying to do with the cross shot cum centre.Was he trying to get out of the way or was he applying a finishing touch to a ball which seemed on its way into the net in any case? Not sure what to make of Manager Pulis'after match radio comment that "he(Lawrence) isn't the brightest shilling in your pocket".
A great team effort from Stoke in which they never sat back too deep.The goal threat was there all afternoon which is not something we could have said just over a month ago.There was even time at the end for Mr.Pericard to come on for a gentle stroll.
Stoke Team: Simonsen ,Zakuani ,Fortune ,Higginbotham ,Dickinson ,Lawrence ,Eustace ,Hoefkens ,Hendrie (Martin ,81 ) ,Parkin ,Fuller (Pericard ,89)
Other Subs: Hoult,Wilkinson,Paterson,