Date: 1st December 2007 at 9:11pm
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This match had all the ingredients for a thriller. Glenn Roeder’s team were battling for survival at the foot of the division and came into this match on the back of two straight wins. Stoke, by contrast, have had a poor run of recent games but had a vital win against QPR in midweek to set this clash up nicely.

The game didn’t disappoint, but the Potters managed to frustrate fans with many missed chances and some poor referring decisions that left the manager ruing what the final score could have been – if only…

But it all worked out well in the end thanks to goals from Leon Cort and Richard Cresswell – both celebrating their second goals within four days which cancelled out a fifth minute lead from Canaries’ striker, Darren Huckerby.

Stoke could have taken the lead within the first minute with the first of many missed chances after Liam Lawrence’s good cross failed to find any other Stoke players in the goalmouth. It was left to the visitors to take the advantage just four minutes later when Huckerby burst through on the break after and had no trouble pushing the ball past Steve Simonsen.

Just as in the second half against QPR, the Potters tended to sit back too much and failed to dominate the midfield, but Stoke still managed chances, the best came from Liam Lawrence on the half hour mark that had the Norwich keeper struggling to hold the ball on the line. Fuller ended the first half by seeing a good shot sail inches over the bar.

Again, just as against QPR, Stoke’s performance was a tale of two halves. The second half started with a team revitalised and it took less than a minute for the Potters to draw level. A good run and cross from Danny Pugh found the head of Leon Cort and the defender had no trouble putting the ball in the back of the net. Stoke then had two cast-iron claims for penalties waved away by the referee which got Tony Pulis in trouble with the ref who promptly sent him to the stands for remonstrating with the officials. Fuller’s frustration then boiled over a few minutes later when he clearly dived in the area and was promptly booked by the ref. But this was a different team to the first half, Stoke harried the Norwich defence at every opportunity, good play from Cresswell and Lawrence in particular created several great opportunities. Cort was unlucky not to get a second after he saw two more headers go over the bar in close succession. Fuller had a shot well saved by Marshall, but whilst Norwich did not create many chances at the other end, you always felt that the game could go either way. Roeder certainly felt so and threw Jamie Cureton on with 12 minutes remaining, Pulis replied by replacing Mama Sidibe with Jon Parkin. It was all to play for.

With just one minute of normal time remaining, Cresswell struck the killer blow after another Cort header landed at the feet of the former Leeds’ striker and he fired home to a rapturous reception from the Stoke faithful.

Three more good points push Stoke up into 7th position and should give them the confidence to face the Blades at Bramall Lane on Tuesday, followed by league leaders, Watford at the Brit next Sunday.

Stoke City: Simonsen, Wright (Wilkinson 30), Shawcross, Cort, Pugh, Lawrence, Eustace, Delap, Cresswell, Fuller, Sidibe (Parkin 80)
Subs not used: Hoult, Zakuani, Phillips

Norwich City: Marshall, Doherty, Shackell, Taylor, Camara, Croft (Cureton 78), Russell, Pattison (Evans 55), Fotheringham, Huckerby, Dublin
Subs not used: Arnold, Smith, Brown


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