Football: Stoke celebrate Macari's return

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The Independent Online
Stoke City 4

West Bromwich Albion 1

THE second coming of Lou Macari might just presage the departure of Keith Burkinshaw. Macari's return to Stoke City, a year since he left for Celtic, followed the inevitable script with two goals from Martin Carruthers, a first in his league career for Ray Wallace, and one from Paul Peschisolido, which left his side seventh in the First Division.

For West Brom and Burkinshaw it was a second successive defeat; they are firmly rooted in 23rd place and calls for the manager's removal had begun even before the match.

In truth this was an improved performance from West Brom, but they could not have met Stoke on a worse day. Macari was practically deified after taking Stoke to the Autoglass Trophy and the Second Division title in two years.

With 10 of his old players in the line-up it was as if he had never been away, as Carruthers swept Gary Strodder's sliced clearance past a helpless Stuart Naylor after 25 minutes.

Carl Muggleton dropped Steve Lilwall's cross to present Bob Taylor with an empty net, but Wallace's fine maiden goal restored a deserved advantage.

Breaking from half-way, he surged to the edge of the area where he received a return pass from Nigel Gleghorn, cracking a rising right-footed shot across Naylor and in at the far corner. The third was a more scrappy affair, with Carruthers and Peschisolido disputing the credit for turning Ian Cranson's header from a corner over the line.

This was given greater significance in the final three minutes when Carruthers claimed what might have been a hat-trick. Naylor charged out of his area to block Gleghorn's through ball, but Carruthers beat him to it, touching it round the goalkeeper before turning it into the net.

Peschisolido picked up a head injury after sliding on to the shingle surround, but the serious problems belonged to West Brom. Tony Hale, the chairman, promised a 'long chat' this week.

Stoke City (3-5-2): Muggleton; Cranson, Dreyer, Sandford; Wallace, Butler (Overson 87), Orlygsson, Downing, Gleghorn; Carruthers, Peschisolido (Biggins, 81). Substitute not used: Sinclair (gk).

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Naylor; Parsley, Strodder, Herbert, Lilwall; Ashcroft, Phelan, McNally (Coldicott, 65), Smith; Taylor, Hunt. Substitutes not used: Mardon, Lange (gk).

Referee: J Watson (Whitley Bay)