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Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Saturday, 31 January 2009

Stoke 1-0 Man City

By Phil Dawkes

James Beattie
Beattie grabbed the winner, his second in three games since joining Stoke

Stoke had Rory Delap sent off but still managed to beat a disappointing Manchester City thanks to a James Beattie first-half header.

Stoke were reduced to 10 men when Rory Delap was sent off for kicking out at Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Beattie gave the home side the lead when he headed home a Matthew Etherington deep cross.

The visitors had the vast majority of possession but had only one shot on target throughout the whole match.

Before kick-off Stoke manager Tony Pulis had referred to the threat his side posed if they played to their strengths, namely grit and hard work.

With Manchester City counterpart Mark Hughes acknowledging an improvement in his side of late but also highlighting the tendency of opposing sides to raise themselves against the newly enriched Blues, the match was set as a contest between graft and guile.

Pulis critical of Wright-Phillips

This proved the case from the very first action of the match.

Stoke launched the kick-off in the direction of their physically imposing forward line, sparking a keenly-contested clash to which the visitors responded by claiming possession and looking to build patiently.

There were initial indications that this would prove productive for the visitors as Robinho jinked past Delap before chipping on to the roof of the net and then Stephen Ireland volleyed wide after a Ryan Shawcross clearance struck Craig Bellamy and looped invitingly for the Irishman.

Stoke's chief threat came from set-pieces and they tested the visitors' mettle in a concerted spell either side of the 20-minute mark.


Glenn Whelan should have done better when a Delap throw found him unmarked in the area but his tame header looped over while a Shawcross flick was on target but too close to keeper Joe Hart to trouble him.

Stoke were reduced to 10 men in the 36th minute.

Delap's ire at a Wright-Phillips diving tackle resulted first in an overly-aggressive challenge of his own and then a completely unnecessary and not entirely well-directed swipe at the ball as it lay near the Manchester City winger's midriff.

The referee produced a straight red for the midfielder, depriving Stoke of not only a man but their chief attacking weapon.

Hughes disappointed with timing of goal

If Manchester City had bossed possession before, they completely dominated after, stroking the ball around at will to the sound of constant boos from an aggrieved home crowd.

Despite this the visitors could not create a clear-cut chance before half time but Stoke could and from it they scored.

Etherington was released down the left wing and his deep cross evaded Wayne Bridge and was met by a rising Beattie to head home his second goal in three games since joining the club.

Understandably the second half was played largely in the Stoke half of the pitch with the occasional foray by the home side into blue territory.

Beattie all smiles after Stoke's winner

Robinho had the visitors' first effort with a snapshot that flew harmlessly wide of Thomas Sorenson's left-hand post but it was telling of their inability to break down a resolute Stoke that their next chance was not for another 15 minutes as substitute Elano's crossshot missed both the diving Ireland and the goal.

In the last 10 minutes Robinho cleverly floated a cross into the penalty area but it narrowly eluded the outstretched foot of right-back Micah Richards.

It was the marauding Richards who almost gave the visitors a late lifeline when he latched onto a Wright-Phillips through-ball before being well-challenged by Andy Griffin.

Mark Hughes' side's calls for a penalty were representative of their desperation, whilst substitute Griffin's challenge summed up Stoke's determination.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis:
"We were smashing when Rory Delap was sent off early in the first half and we deserved the victory in the end.

"The lads were very resolute and stayed together.

"We do not condone Delap's actions but the incident would not have happened if the referee had blown up after the challenge from Shaun Wright-Phillips.

"We have got 28,000 supporters and they got behind us for every tackle and pass."

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes:
"We are disappointed because we have got nothing out of a game in which we were in total control.

"We conceded a goal right at the death in the first half and that gave Stoke something to fight for.

"It was difficult to break them down because they had two banks of four.

"Good players need space and we were not given any although we should have had a penalty when Micah Richards was brought down in the box."

Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Pugh, Delap, Whelan, Amdy Faye (Griffin 78), Etherington (Sonko 86), Beattie, Fuller (Cresswell 46).

Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Olofinjana, Lawrence, Kitson.

Sent Off: Delap (38).

Booked: Wilkinson.

Goals: Beattie 45.

Man City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Onuoha, Bridge, Wright-Phillips, De Jong (Caicedo 72), Zabaleta (Elano 55), Ireland, Bellamy, Robinho.

Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Fernandes, Garrido, Jo, Vassell.

Booked: Elano.

Att: 27,236

Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Stoke City's James Beattie 7.58 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Premier League as it happened
31 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
31 Jan 09 |  Football

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