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

Molineux

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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview