Crouch stoops to conquer as Stoke make it four in a row

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Stoke City 2: Pulis decision to rest entire first XI in Europe vindicated after battling win over Wolves


His methods may not meet with universal approval but in his continuous quest to give his Stoke side an edge Tony Pulis cannot fail to be admired, however grudgingly. On an a bitter afternoon when Ryan Shotton's towelling vest was as useful for insulation as drying the ball, it was the decision to go off into Europe leaving his entire first team at home that made the difference.

Not that it can have been a difficult one to make. Stoke's last two ventures on to foreign soil in the Europa League had preceded thumpings at home by 4-0 and 5-0 and given that their passage into the last 32 was already assured, Pulis reasoned that taking any of yesterday's likely starters for a Wednesday game in Istanbul was merely a waste of their energy. So it was that Stoke were rewarded – for the first time in their history – with a fourth Premier League win in a row.

They clinched it with Peter Crouch's 99th career League goal and, moreover, did so having been a goal behind, after conceding a penalty on 17 minutes, converted by Stephen Hunt when Jonathan Woodgate brought down Matt Jarvis. It was a contentious moment, not because there was any doubt over it being a foul but because Woodgate, who had already been booked, was not given a second yellow card.

Still behind at half-time, Stoke responded splendidly in the second half, enjoying another piece of good fortune with their equaliser when Robert Huth's 35-yard shot was deflected wide of Wolves goalkeeperWayne Hennessey but deserving none the less of their first top-flight triumph at Molineux since 1967.

Crouch, at the far post, looked at his most ungainly, contorting his 6ft 7ins frame to re-route Matthew Etherington's cross somehow into the net, but it was a fine goal in that it came on the end of an eight-pass move, which some would say was not at all Stoke-like, but whichactually reflected the quality of their football.

Would the outcome have been different, though, had Woodgate been sent off? It was an argument that prompted Mick McCarthy, the Wolves manager, to question referee AnthonyTaylor after the final whistle. He did get an explanation, he said, but felt it was not his place to pass it on.

"If he trips Jarvis outside the box and gets booked, why wasn't he booked again?," McCarthy said. "Anywhere else on the field he would have been. I did ask the ref about it but it should be him explaining his decisions, not me. It's a shame because I could not fault our performance today. In the first half in particular I thought we were excellent."

As it was, Woodgate did not stay on the field for much longer, in any event. Playing at right-back, which has been his role lately but is not one that is natural to him, he had already been exposed by Jarvis and Pulis plainly saw the writing on the wall, replacing him almost immediately after the penalty, switching Shotton to right-back and sending on Jermaine Pennant to play on the wing.

It turned out to be a masterstroke, albeit an accidental one. Pennant, whose recent omission had prompted speculation of a falling-out with the manager, proceeded to give Wolves as much of a headache as Jarvis had been threatening to inflict on Stoke. He and Etherington, aided by the industry of Jonathan Walters and the constant threat posed by Crouch, turned the contest in Stoke's favour.

Walters had missed one excellent chance before the equaliser came, the ball flying wide off his knee after an Etherington cross reached him unmarked at the far post. Then Roger Johnson brought Walters down – winning a questionable free kick, in McCarthy's judgement – and, after Glenn Whelan had teed him up with a short free-kick, Huth let fly from 35 yards, the ball striking Kevin Doyle on the end of the Wolves wall, giving Hennessey no chance.

"We had some good fortune with that and with Woodgate not being sent off," Pulis admitted. "He had played really well in that position against Tottenham when he had Aaron Lennon up against him but the first challenge that he was booked for was a poor one and I did think he would be sent off.

"But I thought we were worth the win after the way we played in the second half and we've made a bit of history again."

Wolves (4-4-2): Hennessey; Zubar, Johnson, Berra, Ward; Hunt (Hammill, 80), Henry, Milijas (Guedioura, 75), Jarvis; Doyle (Ebanks-Blake, 75), Fletcher.

Stoke (4-4-2): Sorensen; Woodgate (Pennant, 19), Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Shotton, Whelan (Palacios, 83), Whitehead, Etherington (Fuller, 83); Walters, Crouch.

Referee Anthony Taylor.

Man of the match Etherington (Stoke).

Match rating 7/10.

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, goes back to his family's Sicilian roots in the first 'Godfather' film
Kim Kardashian speaks on the Today show about her step-father's transition
Arts and Entertainment
Kermit and his doppleganger Hyalinobatrachium dianae
Wenger and Mourinho square-up to each other earlier this season
All the action from today's Premier League, including Everton vs Man Utd and Chelsea vs Arsenal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions