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Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Saturday, 18 April 2009 17:37 UK

Stoke 1-0 Blackburn

By Mike Henson

Liam Lawrence
Liam Lawrence celebrates his second goal of the season

Stoke took a huge step towards securing their Premier League status as they deservedly overcame Blackburn thanks to Liam Lawrence's second-half goal.

Tony Pulis' side had created the pick of the chances before Lawrence latched on to a header from James Beattie and fired home at the Britannia Stadium.

Rovers pressed forward towards the end, but the Potters defence stood firm as the visitors ran out of ideas.

Stoke now move into 11th position, eight points clear of bottom three.

With their home form now to thank for 32 of their 39 Premier League points, the Britannia Stadium would not have been the destination of choice for a Blackburn side with 4-0 defeats in their last two away matches.

Stoke soon had the visitors pinned back as Glenn Whelan's shot ricocheted off Beattie and narrowly over.

We still have work to do - Pulis

Beattie's strike partner Ricardo Fuller was also involved early on as he peeled on to the flank and sent a low cross skimming past Matthew Etherington's outstretched boot.

Morten Gamst Pedersen, still in search of his first goal of the season, thumped a volley over the bar and into the mocking Stoke fans beyond in a rare Rovers attack.

So ineffectual were the visitors in forward positions that it took an inexplicable mistake from Abdoulaye Faye to generate a degree of excitement from the 3,000-strong Blackburn away support.

The Senegalese defender put his head to a ball bouncing harmlessly through to Thomas Sorensen and the Danish stopper was forced to stretch suddenly to prevent it passing him.

A powerful effort from Pedersen thudding into Whelan's midriff had the Rovers players asking questions of referee Howard Webb, before Stoke had more vociferous appeals waved away.

As their pressure intensified, Beattie folded under an aerial challenge from Andre Ooijer but his persistent complaints went unheeded.

Danny Higginbotham then muscled his way in front of Aaron Mokoena to connect with a Lawrence corner, but saw the ball slid across his forehead and wide.


The half ended with the focus once again on Webb as Fuller tumbled after turning inside Christopher Samba, before Benni McCarthy slashed wildly over at the other end.

As the two teams emerged for the second half, Faye was booked for an incident in the tunnel that brought him into heated discussion with his countryman El-Hadji Diouf.

The temperature of the contest was raised further as Samba was felled twice in quick succession by Beattie and Fuller.

Stephen Warnock followed Fuller into the book for a foul on Whelan, but the hosts seemed invigorated by the sense of battle.

Lawrence's dipping half-volley was pushed over the top by Paul Robinson before Etherington headed wide under pressure from Keith Andrews.

Lack of firepower frustrates Allardyce

The breakthrough finally came as Beattie's deft flick directed Higginbotham's cross into Lawrence's path at the far post.

The Irish midfielder held off Gael Givet and, although his shot was low and firm, Robinson will have been disappointed to see it squirm past him and into the net.

Rovers could have struck back soon after as Pedersen floated a cross to the far post with Andrews lurking dangerously at the near post.

Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce introduced David Dunn and pushed Samba forward as a makeshift striker, but their attacks lacked the imagination and penetration against some Stoke's stout defending.

The defeat leaves Allardyce's side just three points above third-from-bottom Middlesbrough.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis:
"We have five games left and we have to approach each of those games with the same attitude we did this one.

"It was a tough contest with not much in it but a lot riding on the game on a hot afternoon.

"Blackburn were a credit to their manager Sam Allardyce and he cannot fault his players."

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce:
"Stoke is a difficult place to play.

"We contained them quite well but could not do anything in an attacking sense.

"We were a bit lightweight up front because we were without Jason Roberts and Roque Santa Cruz.

"The most insignificant cross of the day ended up Liam Lawrence scoring the only goal for them."

Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson (Kelly 50), Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham, Lawrence, Whelan, Delap, Etherington (Sonko 87), Beattie (Cresswell 86), Fuller.
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Olofinjana, Pugh, Camara.

Booked: Wilkinson, Abdoulaye Faye, Fuller.

Goals: Lawrence 75.

Blackburn: Robinson, Ooijer, Samba, Nelsen, Givet, Diouf, Andrews, Mokoena (Dunn 81), Warnock, Pedersen, McCarthy (Villanueva 68).
Subs Not Used: Bunn, Grella, Khizanishvili, Olsson, Doran.

Booked: Warnock.

Att: 27,500

Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Blackburn's El-Hadji Diouf (7.29 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
FA Cup & Premier League as it happened
18 Apr 09 |  Football
Saturday's football photos
18 Apr 09 |  Premier League

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