Date: 15th September 2008 at 8:11am
Written by: Charlie Bennett

It was heartbreak at the Britannia stadium this afternoon as Tim Cahill scored with only 13 minutes remaining to give Everton three points and to deny Stoke a heroic comeback in front of the live Sky cameras. Stoke had earlier come back from 2-0 down to draw level, but Cahill playing in his first game of the season scored with a trademark header to leave the Potters in the bottom 3.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis made 2 changes from the team that suffered defeat at Middlesbrough, he gave a debut to centre-back Ibrahima Sonko who partnered Leon Cort with Abdoulaye Faye moving to centre midfield to replace the suspended Amdy Faye. At left-back Carl Dickinson made way for the re-signed Danny Higginbotham, who played his first game back at Stoke since leaving for Sunderland a year earlier.

Unfortunately Everton boss David Moyes had a full squad to choose from for the first time this season, midfielder Tim Cahill was deemed fit to play and he partnered new 15,000,000 pound signing Marouane Fellaini and fellow new signing Segundo Castillo in the midfield.

Stoke started the game playing at a high tempo and Rory Delap almost found the net with a throw in that managed to go all the way through the crammed penalty area. As has been the case over the last season or two Stoke started much brighter than their opponents and took control of the game early. A good sign was that Abdoulaye Faye seemed to adapt to playing in the midfield very easily, and he and midfield partner Seyi Olofinjana looked both creative and menacing at the same time.

The ever sharp Ricardo Fuller had city`s first chance of the game, as he and Lawrence combined well down the right which resulted in the Jamaican international firing low across goalkeeper Tim Howard, the American number 1 was equal to the shot and smothered the ball as it bobbled from his grip.

Everton new signing Fellaini had a 30 yard drive which Sorensen saved with ease, but he seemed to fit in well as the half progressed in to an Everton side that oozed quality all over the field. No Everton player has more quality than Yakubu though, as he muscled out his marker and fired past the post, proving to Sonko and Cort he was a match for either of them in a challenge.

As the first half drew to a close Everton took the lead with a scrappy goal that the Stoke defence will be disappointed with conceding. Yakubu was the culprit as he worked himself into a yard of space and placed the ball past Sorensen that sent Everton fans crazy.

When the second half kicked off there was some expectation in the air from some Potter`s fans that saw Stoke come from behind to beat Aston Villa, but their hopes quickly vanished as some lax defending saw Everton double their advantage.

Set-piece specialist Mikel Arteta took a free kick that got little contact from young Nigerian striker Victor Anichebe, but enough to find the net just inside the far post.

The fans gave Stoke the wake up call they needed with some hair raising support that inspired Stoke to pull a goal back. A Delap throw in was poorly punched by Tim Howard and the ball looped up to Olofinjana, with acres of space he lazily volleyed the ball from just inside the area that flew into the back of the net.

Pulis`s “Balmy Army” really got behind Stoke with deafening chanting, singing and cheering that shut up the away fans and players who seemed to freeze as Stoke piled forward. The players really picked up their performances as a long boot up field from Sorenson was flicked on by Dave Kitson that sent Fuller off on a chase.

Covering defender Joseph Yobo was unbalanced as he sprawled over leaving Fuller a free ticket to goal. He neatly took the ball round Howard and finished comfortably to send the whole stadium delirious. But just as the players were heading for the re-start it came apparent that referee Alan Wiley had disallowed the goal claiming that Fuller had tripped Yobo as he fell over.

Stoke got retribution when a long Delap throw sent Everton into panic and Phil Jagielka flicked the ball into his own goal to make the score 2-2. With Stoke fans urging the team on for a winner Fuller earned a corner and more pressure was applied by the Potters.

Everyone was in a state of confusion as Leon Cort handled the ball inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot for an Everton penalty. After consulting the linesman, Ref Wiley changed his mind and ordered a free kick much to the dismay of Everton boss Moyes, who was sent to the stand after arguing with the official. However, he did had a claim after replays show Cort did handle the ball in the penalty box.

Everton then went and won the game with Cahill losing his man and heading the ball past Sorensen from an Arteta corner. He didn`t stop there and set upon putting the game to bed but instead of scoring, his volley ended up being closer to manager Moyes sitting in the stand than to Sorensen`s goal.

There was a debut for Michael Tonge who came on with 10 minutes remaining, along with Mama Sidibe to try and grab a late point. Unfortunately the pressure mounted wasn`t enough as Everton took the 3 points and Stoke slip into the bottom 3 with only 1 win and 3 points.

Everton recorded a much needed win in a great game that was watched by millions around the globe, which proved to be a great advert for the Premier League and English football.

Next Stoke meet the red half of Merseyside at Anfield, a game that Liverpool will be licking their lips at after seeing some poor defending and soft goals conceded on Stoke`s part.

Stoke City: Sorensen, Griffin(c), Cort, Sonko, Higginbotham, Lawrence (Cresswell 84), Abdoulaye Faye (Tonge 80), Olofinjana, Delap, Kitson (Sidibe 80), Fuller. Subs not used: Simonsen, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Whelan

Everton: Howard, Neville (c), Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott, Anichebe, Castillo, Cahill (Rodwell 80), Fellaini, Arteta, Yakubu. Subs not used: Nash, Baines, Kissock, Valente, Baxter, Vaughan


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