Date: 3rd March 2012 at 10:24pm
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Matthew Etherington`s controversial goal was enough for Stoke to beat Paul Lambert`s Norwich and move up to 8th in the Barclays Premier League.

Stoke made one change from the victory over Swansea with Robert Huth returning from a 3 game suspension with Matthew Upson moving to the bench.

Norwich opted to make three changes from the team that battled bravely to a 2-1 defeat against reigning champions Man Utd. Russell Martin, Elliott Bennett and Jonny Howson came in for Drury, Fox and Jackson.

In what was a dull opening quarter to the game, the only thing to note was Andy Wilkinson once again limping off with a knock to be replaced by Jermaine Pennant who slotted on to the right wing with Ryan Shotton dropping back to full back.

The right hand side pair instantly linked up as Shotton played in Pennant who in turn found Jonathan Walters who then slotted the impressive Dean Whitehead who surged into the box but hit a weak effort which Norwich stopper Ruddy easily gathered.

Norwich carved out their first chance when an in-swinging free kick from the right found Grant Holt unmarked at the back post but he could only head his effort into the grasp of Begovic.

The introduction of Pennant gave the game a new lease of life and Stoke continued to pressure down the right hand side, this time Pennant found Shotton in space who hit a deep cross which found beanpole striker Peter Crouch who`s initial effort was blocked by Bradley Johnson on the edge of the 6 yard box, but the ball found its way back to the striker who then crashed another effort at goal only for Ruddy to make himself big enough to block the chance.

Norwich decided to make a substitution at half time as Anthony Pilkington was replaced by Simeon Jackson.

The start to the second half was more of the same with Stoke providing most of the pressure but not really carving out any chances except for a number of corners.

Pulis decided to freshen up the playing personnel by replacing Peter Crouch who had been impressively dealt with by Zak Whitbread with Trinidad and Tobago striker Kenwyne Jones. Jonathan Walters was also given a deserved rest as he once again ran himself into the ground and was replaced by Cameron Jerome.

The sub`s made an instant impact to proceedings. Stoke won a controversial throw-in midway inside the Norwich half which Marc Wilson took. The throw in was flicked on by Jerome into the path of Etherington who knocked it past an oncoming defender and into the penalty area before smashing the ball at goal and beating Ruddy at his front post from a tight angle. GOAL! 1-0

Replay`s showed that the throw in should have been awarded to Norwich as the last touch came off Stoke`s left back Marc Wilson.

The goal forced activity on Norwich`s bench with David Fox and Aaron Wilbraham replacing Bradley Johnson and Jonny Howson.

The sub`s didn`t have the same impact as Stoke`s as the Potters continued to pile on the pressure with the newly confident Etherington surging down the left and after a couple of step overs swung a cross over to Jones who just couldn`t grow enough to generate enough power on his header at goal.

Kenwyne Jones then turned provider as he played an inch perfect pass into the path of Jerome in the 18 yard box, but he tried to check back and allowed defender Russell Martin to get in a block.

Pulis decided to instruct Stoke to play a deeper game with 5 minutes to go and allowed Norwich to pile on the pressure in the dying moments, without really carving out any guilt edge chances. The match finished at Britannia Stadium 1-0 with Stoke deserving their hard earned victory.

Player Ratings

Stoke City:
Begovic, Wilkinson (Pennant 25), Huth, Shawcross (C), Wilson, Shotton, Whelan, Whitehead, Etherington, Walters (Jerome 69), Crouch (Jones 69)

Ruddy, R. Martin, Naughton, Whitbread, Ward, Pilkington (Jackson 45), E. Bennett, Howson (Wilbraham 75), Surman, Johnson (Fox 79), Holt

Manager Rating
8- Was slightly surprised to see Huth start today ahead of Upson after such an impressive display but the German slotted back into the team and commanded. Pulis’ sub’s were a stroke of genius which grabbed a goal straight away, slightly disappointed he changed the shape late on to allow pressure from Norwich, but all in all a good day for Pulis.