STOKE CITY FC 1 SUNDERLAND 0
Stoke took hold of the Black Cats by the scruff of the neck at the outset and never let go.They played the game throughout at a high tempo,and looked quite the most threatening.Sunderland striker Cisse, who had looked so dangerous against Newcatle United at the weekend,got absolutely no change out of Stoke's solid central pairing of Abdy Faye (surely another Pulis' superb transfer steal) and a very mature and confident looking Ryan Shawcross.Indeed the whole back four looked pretty dependable.I can recall only two shots all night from Sunderland,and one save of note from Sorensen as he had to dive full length to get a hand to halftime sub Kenwyn Jones cross shot which was otherwise destined for the net.
Stoke pushed higher up the field in this game than they have been able to do of late,the pressure on the visitors bringing its reward by way of a bag full of opportunities,particularly in the all action second half.Plenty of dangerous Delap throw ins and some superb probing touches from Soares (and Tongue too when he came on) opened up the visitors.We are not talking route one football here,Stoke played some excellent football.Soares seems to be building a particular understanding with Fuller,which looks as though it could become increasingly profitable as the season progresses.
The winning goal,when it came in the 73rd minute,was from a Delap left side throw in.It arrowed into the visitors six yard box from where it was headed powerfully into the net by Fuller.A few minutes later Stoke could have put the result beyond doubt when a beautiful through ball from Tongue found Fuller on a diagonal run.His right foot shot beat the keeper but came back out off the base of the post.
This,above all,was a splendid team performance.The three points are particularly welcome as they lift us up to 15th spot in the table,psychologically important ahead of Saturday's home game against Arsenal.The crowd of 27,000 once again generated a fantastic atmosphere.
Arsenal...bring 'em on...