Etherington makes case to Capello

Stoke City 3 Blackburn Rovers 0
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The Independent Football

After 300 matches in charge, Tony Pulis probably craved little more in recognition of his achievements than an acknowledgement that his oft-maligned team deserve to be where they are. In the event, his players offered their own tribute, registering their biggest win since joining the Premier League two seasons ago.

Given that they had scored only 19 times before this it came as a surprise, particularly since dour Blackburn have chalked up more goalless draws this season than anyone else in the top flight.

Stoke were well in control before Blackburn's Chris Samba was sent off for a second yellow card after 58 minutes. Rory Delap hurled his usual quota of booming throw-ins and the taller members of the side made a nuisance of themselves in the Blackburn penalty area but, on Stoke's Sir Stanley Matthews' Day, it was a winger who fittingly starred. Watched by Fabio Capello, Matthew Etherington chose the perfect moment to demonstrate the qualities that Pulis believes should be have been recognised already.

After Danny Higginbotham fired Stoke into the lead after eight minutes after a Liam Lawrence corner had not been properly cleared, Etherington provided the cross from which Mamady Sidibe slid home their second, then capped his contribution by scoring their third on the end of a probing run midway through the second half.

"If Matty was at a more fashionable club he would get more attention," Pulis said. "He has great technical ability but also works incredibly hard. The fact that people are talking about Matty and Ryan Shawcross playing for England is great recognition for us."

Pulis had allowed Thomas Sorensen to keep his place in the Stoke goal, even after the arrival of Asmir Begovic from Portsmouth on deadline day. In the event, he did not have a save to make, although the visiting manager, Sam Allardyce, felt his side should have had a penalty for a handball on the goalline that referee Steve Bennett missed. "It was a very harsh red card but poor defending by us twice in the first half put the game in Stoke's hands," Allardyce conceded.

Rrovers fan critically injured

A Blackburn fan was arrested in connection with an incident that left another Rovers supporter with critical injuries during half-time on a concourse at the Britannia Stadium. Chief inspector Adrian Roberts of Staffordshire Police said the injured man, believed to be in his late 20s, was taken unconscious to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire. He added that the arrested is 25 and from Preston.

Attendance: 27, 386

Referee: Steve Bennett

Man of the match: Etherington

Match rating: 7/10