Jon Walters starts his celebrations after putting Stoke ahead
By Owen Phillips
Jon Walters grabbed his first Premier League goal as Stoke beat Blackburn to go seventh in the table and take their unbeaten league run to four games.
Walters ran onto Matthew Etherington's astute pass following a Kenywne Jones flick-on and finished coolly.
Stoke were good value for their win and Etherington, who almost scored three other times, was key to their success.
Rovers played their part in an open game with Brett Emerton going closest when his shot was cleared off the line.
Had Blackburn scored then during their best spell before the break, Stoke's recent upturn would have been in serious doubt.
But unlike every previous Premier League match this term - where the Potters had fallen behind - they had the alien task of having to defend a lead.
Pulis pleased with Stoke progress
And they did it without too much trouble.
Much of the pre-match build-up had predicted a miserable spectacle between two sides with a reputation for a physical approach and long-ball football.
But after a worrying first few minutes where passes were pumped aimlessly forward and a long throw was hurled goalwards from near the halfway line, both teams started to offer glimpses of quality.
It was Stoke who showed first, with several fine passages of a play and a neat turn and curled 20-yard effort from Kenwyne Jones their best effort on goal.
Rovers also began to settle and only some smart thinking from Ryan Shawcross, who dropped back on his line to head clear Emerton's athletic dipping volley, prevented the visitors from taking the lead.
El-Hadji Diouf was also looking dangerous, especially against Stoke's makeshift right-back Robert Huth.
The German never looked comfortable out wide and was booked as he struggled to come to terms with his role.
Tony Pulis' men also looked threatening from their tried and trusted long-throw bombardment.
Allardyce blames defence for defeat
However the towering figures of Blackburn's central defensive duo Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen were well equipped to deal with Rory Delap's baliistics.
Stoke looked much more effective when they got the ball into the feet of wingers Jermaine Pennant and Etherington.
The former West Ham winger twice fired decent attempts into the side netting towards the end of the first half, first with a fierce strike from 18 yards and moments later a volley from Pennant's cross.
Phil Jones then went close for Blackburn at the other end in frantic spell, but his shot was blocked after an incisive move.
After the interval the excellent Etherington continued to pose the greatest threat and it was no surprise his involvement led to the crucial moment in the match.
The winger showed great touch to control Kenwyne Jones' flicked header and then released Walters with a well-weighted and perfectly-timed pass.
Walters ran across his man and finished neatly beyond Paul Robinson, who did well to get a touch on the shot.
Etherington then had a free-kick well saved by Robinson and also saw the keeper pull off a top-class stop to keep out a left-foot cross-shot after a Walters through-ball.
The last 30 minutes saw Sam Allardyce's men desperately trying to force an equaliser but they barely threatened from open play and rarely looked like scoring from set-pieces.
And the Potters, who were in the bottom three before last Sunday's spirited comeback victory against Newcastle, maintained their composure to secure the points and keep their first clean sheet in the league this season.
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