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Stoke 2-0 Bolton

By Phil Dawkes

James Beattie
Beattie fired in his fifth Stoke goal to set the Potters on course for victory

Relegation-threatened Stoke overcame snowy conditions and a committed Bolton side to record only their second win in 14 games in this full-blooded contest.

A poor clearance from Wanderers' Andy O'Brien allowed Stoke's Glenn Whelan to head James Beattie clear to fire in.

Ricardo Fuller grabbed the second, following up a parry by Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen from a Whelan shot.

Bolton battled but created little until Johan Elmander drew a smart save from Stoke keeper Thomas Sorenson late on.

Both Bolton and Stoke have unapologetically relied upon a hard-working, physical approach this season to varying degrees of success.

Pulis hails 'unique' Stoke support

The pre-match predictions of an old-fashioned British battle proved an apt summary as rare passages of composure and control were drowned out by a committed midfield melee and percentage-playing long balls.

It quickly became apparent that concentration would be paramount for defenders in the face of the physical threat of Beattie for Stoke and Bolton's Kevin Davies, playing his 200th game for the club.

The visitor's task was made even harder by the returning Rory Delap, who on numerous occasions caused panic in the Bolton box with his long throw-ins.

It was Bolton's back-line who lapsed first in the 13th minute and they paid the ultimate price for it.

606: DEBATE
Nightharvest

Cahill and O'Brien allowed a deep long ball to bounce and the latter's weak clearing header was returned with purpose by the head of Whelan to set Beattie racing clear and he finished with aplomb.

The goal sent a sold-out Britannia Stadium into a delirium that not even the swirling snow could temper.

Bolton toiled hard to regain parity but met with spirited opposition intent not to give an inch.

The visitors relied largely on free-kicks from Matthew Taylor, and later Mark Davies, but on every occasion the impressive Sorenson proved equal to them.

Fuller had impressed as a substitute against Aston Villa and he again came off the bench to great effect here to provide Stoke with the breathing space their energetic performance deserved with 18 minutes remaining.

We weren't inventive enough - Megson

A typical Delap missile was cleared but only to the lurking Whelan whose 25-yard strike was parried by Jaaskelainen, but the big Jamaican was lurking 10 yards out to fire into the roof of the net.

Stoke could have enjoyed a more relaxing end to the game had Ibrahima Sonko scored with a header that struck the bar, or if Jaaskelainen had not saved well from Liam Lawrence.

Instead, Bolton's late pressure, resulting in Elmander's volley drawing a good save from Sorenson, meant the home fans had to wait until injury time to fully commit to the chants predicting success in their battle against the drop.


Stoke manager Tony Pulis:

"Players of Beattie's age sometimes need the challenge of proving they can still play in the top flight.

"His goalscoring record is smashing. Not only that, it is what he does around the place as well.

"He is a very good team man; he gets the players together. He has brought something else to the dressing room. He is a larger-than-life character."

"It was hard game, a tight game. Credit to Bolton - they never stop. They make it very difficult. But we deserved it, considering the chances we created."

Bolton manager Gary Megson:

"You won't see a worst one conceded up and down the country, never mind in the Premier League.

"Most of the time when the first goal goes in it completely changes the game.

"I thought we had more possession than ordinarily we do have but we weren't good enough with it. We did not compete with Stoke when they were putting balls into the box.

"We did not have all 11 players performing at the level they are capable of and that has cost us."


Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson (Sonko 72), Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Higginbotham, Lawrence, Whelan, Diao (Amdy Faye 66), Delap, Sidibe (Fuller 56), Beattie.
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Pugh, Tonge, Camara.

Booked: Wilkinson, Lawrence.

Goals: Beattie 14, Fuller 73.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson (Makukula 80), Cahill, Andrew O'Brien, Samuel, Mark Davies, Muamba (Gardner 64), McCann, Taylor, Kevin Davies, Elmander.
Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Shittu, Smolarek, Puygrenier, Basham.

Booked: Andrew O'Brien.

Att: 26,319

Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Stoke City's James Beattie with 8.78 (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
04 Mar 09 |  Premier League
Wednesday's football photos
04 Mar 09 |  Football


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