Barclays Premier League
Stoke City 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers



Peter Crouch celebrates with the Stoke players after scoring the winner in the second half 



By Alex Byrom
Deputy Football Editor from Britannia Stadium

Stoke came from behind to beat Wolves 2-1 to inflict a sixth straight loss on Wolves as Terry Connor's side are now all but relegated from the Premier League.

Home keeper Asmir Begovic's error to let Michael Kightly's pass bounce past him and in to the net gave the visitors hope of snatching a vital victory.

But the lead lasted just over ten minutes as Robert Huth hammered Stoke level from inside the box after a knock down from Shawcross and Peter Crouch's looping header consigned Wanderers to another damaging defeat.

Terry Connor's side remain stranded at the bottom of the Premier League, six points from safety with just six games remaining - the result of a disastrous run of eight matches without a win since the former assistant manager's elevation to the hottest of Molineux seats. It’s now their worst run ever in the Premier League.


Stoke have only attempted five through balls in the Premier League this season.

With three of their relegation rivals losing earlier on Saturday, Wolves could not have asked for better circumstances to secure a confidence-boosting victory to claw their way back into the battle against the drop.

They made three changes to the side beaten 3-2 at home by Bolton with captain Roger Johnson dropped to the bench, and Ronald Zubar returned from suspension. Former captain Karl Henry came in for Davis and Ebanks-Blake for Doyle up front.

Stoke, meanwhile, have performed miracles to get to 40 points already, despite being in Europe, they have still been competitive; this was their 50th match of the campaign. Stoke made just one change: Wilkinson was a doubt and wasn’t risked so Ryan Shotton returned.

For all their effort - and the occasional flash of brilliance from wingers Kightly and Matt Jarvis - Wanderers simply did not demonstrate enough quality to suggest they are capable of halting their quiet slide into the Championship even though they have true quality players, they lack leaders, organisation and defence.

They did take the lead, however, – against the run of play - when Begovic's howler – which saw him sufficiently distracted by the run and air-shot from Dave Edwards to allow Kightly's forward pass to find the net unchallenged – the visitors would barely have tested the home keeper.

This was not from a lack of trying by the Wolves wide-men, who demonstrated an alertness their striking colleagues could not match.

Their only other opportunities came from set-pieces, one of which was headed just wide by defender Sebastian Bassong.

City were not much better. The Potters crafted clearer chances but lacked the intensity that has made the Britannia such an unhappy venue for opposition sides and they looked like a side seeing out a heavy season, as they looked slow and tired.

That said, they should have led before Wolves' opener but somehow Jonathan Walters conspired to head wide from five yards with an open goal in front of him following Crouch's downward header.


Wolves have only won one of their last fourteen Premier League games.

After conceding, Stoke struck back quickly as Huth smashed home from fifteen yards after Ryan Shawcross had chested into his path from a free kick. Wolves had headed the ball away, but some were still confined to the penalty area, all over the place and Shawcross and Huth were completely unmarked.

The second half was not an improvement on the first but it did contain the game's decisive moment as Crouch rose to loop a header over Wayne Hennessey and into the far corner of the net. That came after referee Mark Halsey had decided that Stephen Ward had fouled Pennant, after he lost his footing, whereas it was confirmed that he got the ball.

But it still doesn’t delete the fact that they defended the set piece poorly, and six defeats in a row is their worst top flight run since March 1982, and they have failed to keep a clean sheet since August – 29 games ago.

Stoke march on. Whether they can get a top ten finish is another matter. But they’ll be battling, no doubt about that.




Saturday 7th April 2012

Barclays Premier League

Britannia Stadium


Stoke City 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers                          KO 5:30pm                (HT 1-1)

Huth 37, Crouch 59       Kightly 26


Stoke City:   01. Begovic- 4.5/10, 30. Shotton- 7/10, 04. Huth- 8/10, 17. Shawcross (C)- 7.5/10, 12. Wilson- 7/10, 16. Pennant- 7/10 (Palacios 86- 1/10), 18. Whitehead- 7/10, 06. Whelan- 7/10, 26. Etherington- 7.5/10 (Jerome 61- 4/10), 25. Crouch- 7.5/10 (Delap 90), 19. Walters- 6.5/10.

Subs not used:  29. Sorensen, 20. Upson, 09. Jones, 10. Fuller

Booked:     Etherington (35)


Wolves:   01. Henessey- 7/10, 23. Zubar- 5.5/10 (Milner 84- 1.5/10), 05. Stearman- 6/10, 21. Bassong- 6/10, 11. Ward- 5/10, 07. Kightly- 6.5/10, 04. Edwards- 6/10, 08. Henry (C)- 7/10 (Davis 86- 2/10), 17. Jarvis- 6/10, 10. Fletcher- 6/10, 09. Ebanks-Blake- 4/10 (Doyle 83- 2.5/10).

Subs not used:  31. De Vries, 14. Johnson, 16. Berra, 20. Milijas, 37. Forde

Booked:     Kightly (35)


My Man of the Match:      Robert Huth (Stoke City)- Rating 8/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:     Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (Wolverhampton)- Rating 4/10



Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)- 7/10
Attendance: 27,005



Match Facts

Possession:  Stoke City-  45%            Wolverhampton-  55%

Shots:  Stoke City-  14            Wolverhampton-  9

Shots on target:  Stoke City-  6            Wolverhampton-  5

Shots off target:  Stoke City-  8            Wolverhampton-  4

Corners:  Stoke City-  3            Wolverhampton-  8

Fouls:  Stoke City-  7            Wolverhampton-  11

Offside:  Stoke City-  2            Wolverhampton-  2

Assists:  Stoke City-  Shawcross & Pennant            Wolverhampton-  None



Tony Pulis - Stoke City Manager

"I think we can hold our hands up and say 'we're safe' which is brilliant. It's been a very unique season for the football club [in more ways than one]. Never before have we taken on some of the challenges that we have done this season." 

Click here to hear the full interview 

Friday Focus with Peter Crouch here

Terry Connor - Wolverhampton Caretaker Manager

"It's been the story of our season really [positive passages], we haven't been able to see games through, so today was another disappointment -  especially when we went 1-0 up. To have played well for most of the game and come away with nothing is really disappointing." 

Click here to see Terry Connor's full interview


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