Higginbotham celebrates his second goal of the season and his first in the league
By Phil Dawkes
Bolton's away woes continued as Stoke produced a powerful display to seal a deserved victory at the Britannia.
Danny Higginbotham scrambled home from a Tuncay corner to give the Potters the lead at the end of the first half.
Matthew Etherington put the home side firmly in control soon after the hour mark with a penalty after he had been brought down in the box by Zat Knight.
The result lifts Stoke to eighth in the Premier League table and level with Bolton on 30 points.
It means the Trotters have suffered five successive league defeats away from the Reebok Stadium, a run that has undermined an otherwise good first half of the season.
Much has been made of Bolton's transformation from perceived brutes to artists under manager Owen Coyle, and while they strived to impose their passing game at a blustery Britannia, they would have benefited from some of the good old-fashioned directness which characterised them under Sam Allardyce.
No room for complacency - Pulis
Kevin Davies is a notable survivor of Allardyce's reign and more than capable of tormenting defences with his size and strength but he was given scant opportunity by his side's noble but ultimately flawed endeavours.
Beauty though is in the eye of the beholder and the Stoke fans will gain as much pleasure from their side's mastery of the physical aspects of the game as any demonstration of their technical skill.
The Potters know their strengths and played to them perfectly here, out-muscling Bolton in midfield and bullying the visitors' back-line at every opportunity.
Rory Delap's long throw-ins are a familiar weapon to the Potters' opponents but this does not make them any easier to defend against.
With targets of the stature of Robert Huth and Kenwyne Jones to aim at the midfielder was able to regularly place the Trotters on the back foot but, largely thanks to stern resistance from Bolton, none of his throws led to a goal.
It was Stoke forward Tuncay who came closest to opening the scoring in the first half hour; firstly with a strong run but miscued finish and then, shortly after, a 30-yard snap-shot which Jussi Jaaskelainen saved comfortably.
Jones should have given the home side the lead after 30 minutes when Dean Whitehead's superb curling cross from the right found him unmarked 10 yards out, but the striker was unable to get full purchase on his side-foot finish and Jaaskelainen was able to tip it over.
Huth put a header narrowly wide from the resulting corner.
Not long after, Stoke's pressure finally told when Tuncay's corner fell to Higginbotham at the back post, courtesy of a flick-on from Bolton's Johan Elmander, and the defender was able to bundle over the line at the second time of asking past the scrambling Jaaskelainen.
Bolton were better after the break and could have drawn level, but Asmir Begovic was equal to Stuart Holden's 20-yard free-kick.
Coyle looks to regroup after Stoke defeat
Shortly after, Davies did utilise his physicality to muscle his way to a touch on Matthew Taylor's corner, but the sting was taken out of it by a melee of surrounding players and Begovic saved with ease.
However, with just over an hour gone, Stoke produced a timely blow on the break to knock the fight of the visitors and take a strong grip on the match.
Tuncay's pass unleashed Etherington down the right, and his pace took him past Knight before the defender's mistimed tackle brought the winger down for a penalty.
Etherington took the spot kick himself and while it was not the best executed it managed to squeeze home via Jaaskelainen's out-stretched hand and the post.
In the remaining 25 minutes, Bolton attempted to get a foothold in the match, but the closest they came was from a Taylor drive from the edge of the area, which Begovic palmed away.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis:
"The conditions were difficult for the players but I think there was some great football produced by both teams.
"The lads have gone out there, got three points and now we move on.
"We've got 16 games to go and we've got to get to 40 points as quick as possible."
Bolton manager Owen Coyle:
"Stoke seemed to adapt better than we did to the conditions in the first half, but second half we were much better.
"The lads have been magnificent to this point and now we need to go away and look to regroup.
"We've got two big home games coming up now [against Chelsea and Wolves] and we need to ensure that we are ready for them."
90:00+4:43 The referee brings the game to a close.
90:00+4:02 Effort from deep inside the area by Rodrigo Moreno misses to the left of the target.
90:00+2:45 Tamir Cohen takes a shot. Save by Asmir Begovic. Martin Petrov decides to take the corner short, Shot from deep inside the
area by Tamir Cohen clears the bar.
90:00+1:47 The referee blows for offside. Jussi Jaaskelainen takes the free kick.
89:28 Rodrigo Moreno delivers the ball.
88:57 The assistant referee flags for offside against Danny Pugh. Jussi Jaaskelainen restarts play with the free kick.
88:29 Glenn Whelan fouled by Mark Davies, the ref awards a free kick. Danny Higginbotham restarts play with the free kick.
87:16 Free kick awarded for a foul by Tamir Cohen on Glenn Whelan. Direct free kick taken by Asmir Begovic.
87:16 Substitution Matthew Etherington leaves the field to be replaced by Danny Pugh.
83:48 Effort from the edge of the area by Tuncay Sanli goes wide of the right-hand post.
82:49 Unfair challenge on Dean Whitehead by Rodrigo Moreno results in a free kick. Asmir Begovic restarts play with the free kick.
82:49 Substitution Tamir Cohen replaces Stuart Holden.
80:31 Substitution Jonathan Walters joins the action as a substitute, replacing Kenwyne Jones.
77:41 Johan Elmander gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Robert Huth. Asmir Begovic takes the direct free kick.
76:05 Headed effort from deep inside the area by Kevin Davies misses to the left of the goal.
75:35 Unfair challenge on Mark Davies by Matthew Etherington results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Samuel Ricketts.
74:20 Header by Tuncay Sanli from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
72:17 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Johan Elmander by Robert Huth. Samuel Ricketts takes the free kick.
70:10 Substitution Marc Wilson goes off and Glenn Whelan comes on.
Correction - 69:45 Samuel Ricketts takes a shot. Save made by Asmir Begovic.
69:45 Samuel Ricketts takes a shot. Asmir Begovic makes a save.
69:04 Inswinging corner taken by Rodrigo Moreno, Andy Wilkinson manages to make a clearance.
67:48 Rodrigo Moreno takes a shot. Save made by Asmir Begovic. Corner taken by Martin Petrov from the left by-line played to the
near post, clearance by Andy Wilkinson.
Correction - 65:13 Substitution (Bolton) makes a substitution, with Martin Petrov coming on for Matthew Taylor.
Correction - 65:13 Substitution (Bolton) makes a substitution, with Rodrigo Moreno coming on for Fabrice Muamba.
65:13 Substitution Martin Petrov on for Matthew Taylor.
65:13 Substitution Rodrigo Moreno joins the action as a substitute, replacing Fabrice Muamba.
64:22 Matthew Taylor takes a shot. Save made by Asmir Begovic.
63:40 Fabrice Muamba gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tuncay Sanli. Matthew Etherington delivers the ball from
the free kick left-footed from left wing, Paul Robinson makes a clearance.
63:40 Booking Fabrice Muamba booked for unsporting behaviour.
63:02 Penalty awarded for a foul by Zat Knight on Matthew Etherington.
63:02 GOAL - Matthew Etherington:Stoke 2 - 0 Bolton Matthew Etherington scores a penalty. Stoke 2-0 Bolton.
Correction - 62:18 Unfair challenge on Matthew Etherington by Zat Knight results in a Penalty.
Correction - 62:18 GOAL - Matthew Etherington:Stoke 2 - 0 Bolton Matthew Etherington scores a penalty. Stoke 2-0 Bolton.
61:51 Booking Zat Knight is cautioned.
60:11 Free kick awarded for a foul by Samuel Ricketts on Rory Delap. Asmir Begovic takes the direct free kick.
59:17 Robert Huth gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jussi Jaaskelainen. Jussi Jaaskelainen takes the direct free
58:19 Tuncay Sanli takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Johan Elmander.
57:52 Corner taken short by Tuncay Sanli.
56:56 Corner taken by Matthew Taylor, save by Asmir Begovic.
54:36 Tuncay Sanli produces a left-footed shot from inside the area that clears the bar.
52:22 Johan Elmander gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kenwyne Jones. Danny Higginbotham takes the direct free kick.
50:45 Unfair challenge on Robert Huth by Fabrice Muamba results in a free kick. Asmir Begovic takes the direct free kick.
49:22 Free kick awarded for a foul by Tuncay Sanli on Matthew Taylor. Stuart Holden has a direct shot on goal from the free kick,
save by Asmir Begovic.
Correction - 46:25 Headed effort from the edge of the area by Johan Elmander goes wide of the right-hand post.
46:25 Headed effort from the edge of the area by Kenwyne Jones goes wide of the right-hand post.
45:01 The game restarts for the second half.
45:00+2:16 The referee blows for half time.
45:00+1:13 Corner taken right-footed by Stuart Holden from the left by-line, save by Asmir Begovic.
42:20 Mark Davies concedes a free kick for a foul on Tuncay Sanli. Matthew Etherington takes the direct free kick.
40:32 Tuncay Sanli is ruled offside. Jussi Jaaskelainen takes the indirect free kick.
38:42 Unfair challenge on Gary Cahill by Tuncay Sanli results in a free kick. Matthew Taylor fires a strike on goal direct from
the free kick.
36:03 Corner taken right-footed by Tuncay Sanli from the left by-line, Tuncay Sanli provided the assist for the goal.
36:03 GOAL - Danny Higginbotham:Stoke 1 - 0 Bolton Danny Higginbotham finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom right corner of the goal.
Stoke 1-0 Bolton.
Correction - 34:56 Effort from the edge of the area by Johan Elmander goes wide of the right-hand upright.
34:56 Matthew Taylor takes a shot. Save by Asmir Begovic.
34:23 Robert Huth has a header from deep inside the six-yard box and clears the crossbar.
32:10 Stuart Holden has a shot on goal from outside the box which misses left.
30:36 Foul by Dean Whitehead on Stuart Holden, free kick awarded. Jussi Jaaskelainen restarts play with the free kick.
28:52 Tuncay Sanli takes a shot. Fabrice Muamba gets a block in.
28:19 Unfair challenge on Tuncay Sanli by Mark Davies results in a free kick. Danny Higginbotham takes the direct free kick.
26:41 Matthew Etherington takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Robert Huth has a headed effort at goal from deep inside
the area missing to the right of the target.
26:18 Kenwyne Jones takes a shot. Jussi Jaaskelainen makes a save.
24:56 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jussi Jaaskelainen by Robert Huth. Jussi Jaaskelainen takes the direct free kick.
22:51 Close range header by Robert Huth goes over the crossbar.
21:34 Tuncay Sanli takes a shot. Save by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
18:34 Shot on goal by Johan Elmander from just inside the area clears the crossbar.
16:50 Corner taken by Matthew Etherington, Robert Huth challenges Jussi Jaaskelainen unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jussi
Jaaskelainen takes the free kick.
7:44 Tuncay Sanli takes a shot.
Correction - 5:17 Free kick awarded for a foul by Zat Knight on Kenwyne Jones. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from Marc Wilson.
5:17 Unfair challenge on Kenwyne Jones by Zat Knight results in a free kick. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in
from Andy Wilkinson.
1:14 Gary Cahill concedes a free kick for a foul on Kenwyne Jones. Robert Huth takes the free kick.
0:00 The referee gets the game started.
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