Stoke City 3, Preston North End 1: Shawcross and Cort duel gives Stoke unorthodox edge
Monday 21 January 2008
Stoke's manager, Tony Pulis, has not yet found a striker to beef up the club's promotion challenge but may not have to if his defenders continue to plunder goals. After Leon Cort had headed his fifth and sixth of the season as Stoke moved to within a point of the top two, his fellow centre-back Ryan Shawcross revealed there was money riding on who would be first to double figures.
Shawcross has a slender lead with seven, but is worried Cort's effectiveness at set pieces may give him the edge. The former Crystal Palace player guided in one of Rory Delap's trademark long throws to give Stoke first blood on Saturday before clinching the points by heading home a second-half corner. "Leon is so strong and defenders are a bit scared of him when he goes into their box," Shawcross said. "I've got money on being first to 10 goals, but he is catching me."
The win capped a significant week for the two defenders, each of whom turned a loan move into a permanent deal. Cort completed his club record £1.2m move from Crystal Palace while 20-year-old Shawcross could not conceal his excitement at tying up a £1m move, even though he had turned down a new contract at Manchester United to stay. "When I came here in August it was just a loan and I hoped to go back to United," he said. "But after about a month I decided this was where I wanted to be."
Cort, extraordinarily for a centre-half, has not picked up a yellow card since April 2004, a run of 162 games. "I have given him some stick about that," said Shawcross, himself already cautioned seven times in his five-month Stoke career. "But he is a good player and, unlike me, a clean tackler."
Preston did not play like a side in the bottom three but were undone both by their vulnerability at set pieces and a costly mistake by their goalkeeper, Andy Lonergan, who dropped a cross to allow Richard Cresswell to tap in Stoke's second, rendering the former Norwich striker Chris Brown's first goal for Preston a mere consolation.
Latest in Sport
Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Compare the Barcelona and Real Madrid players in El Clasico
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
Tim Sherwood: The mavericks have always needed special handling – but Balotelli is not delivering his side of the bargain for Liverpool
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Modesty of Louis van Gaal makes nice contrast with his old pupil Jose Mourinho
Real Madrid analysis: Toni Kroos control may give extra edge that enables Real Madrid to retain Champions League crown
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts