Etherington takes his chance as referee dithers

Stoke City 1 Norwich City 0

britannia stadium

Until Matthew Etherington scored, the most exciting thing that happened was the pre-match parade of Stoke's 1972 League Cup winners. What followed was 72 minutes of the kind of stalemate that must have been unfolding when a bored hack first added mid-table mediocrity to the lexicon of football reporting. At least those in the crowd who had been around 40 years ago could close their eyes and think of Terry Conroy.

But then a Norwich side whose quest for a point had been underpinned by some impressively resolute defending suddenly gave way amid confusion over a throw-in, given initially Norwich's way by the referee Michael Oliver but then overruled after a signal from his assistant.

Marc Wilson took it, Cameron Jerome flicked the ball on and Matthew Etherington took full advantage as Norwich's Elliott Ward pulled out of a challenge, advancing on John Ruddy's goal and beating the Norwich goalkeeper at the near post.

"It was there for everybodyto see that it was a Norwich throw," their manager, Paul Lambert, said afterwards.

"The referee raises his hand a little as if it is a Norwich throw but the linesman has overruled him for some reason. The referee admitted to me in the tunnel that he was giving it to us.

"Our lads think it is our throw, we're caught out of position and we lose a bad goal. It is disappointing to lose like that because we had defended well and up to that point John had had only one save to make."

Lambert's frustration was understandable. Yet had he complained about his own players' slack defending you felt he would have been within his rights to do so, whatever the merits of the decision. Ward, in particular, seemed to be right in position to block Etherington's progress and Ruddy's positioning was not good, leaving the winger a big gap to aim for.

It was in complete contrast to the praise he was correctly given for the save that kept out a Peter Crouch effort at point-blank range in the first half, but for which the home side's dominance of attacking possession would have been appropriately rewarded, tedious though the football had been.

Norwich, beaten only three times in 12 Premier League games before this, had been set up to keep a clean sheet, deploying only Grant Holt in a striker's role. Stoke, whose only League goals in two months had been the result of headers from set-plays, were not threatening to stray from their usual methodology.

Jonathan Walters set up the hard-working Dean Whitehead for a shot that might have tested Ruddy more but, save for a couple of half-chances from which Holt could not profit, nothing much happened until a cross from Ryan Shotton from the right flank brought Crouch into the game.

A block by Bradley Johnson foiled the big striker at the first attempt but he looked sure to score when the ball rebounded to him. He struck it ferociously but Ruddy somehow got inthe way.

Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, swapped both his strikers just before the goal but admitted he might have enjoyed some good fortune over the goal.

"If it was a Norwich throw then we have had a bit of luck but I felt that overall we deserved the result," he said, accepting that after a run of only two wins in 10 matches in the Premier League it was a result his side needed, given that their next three fixtures are against Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City.

"People can forget that we have played 44 games this season, been to the last 32 in Europe and are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. This club has never had a sequence of games like it and it takes its toll.

"Yet we have got a great result at Crawley in the FA Cup despite playing most of the game with 10 men, then we have beaten Swansea and now won today. The lads have worked really hard. We were the only team going forward to try to win the game today and we deserved the result."

Stoke (4-4-2): Begovic; Wilkinson (Pennant, 25), Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Shotton, Whelan, Whitehead, Etherington; Crouch (Jones, 69), Walters (Jerome, 69).

Norwich (4-4-1-1): Ruddy; Martin, Ward, Whitbread, Naughton; Pilkington (Jackson, ht), Howson (Wilbraham, 75), Johnson (Fox, 79), Surman; E Bennett; Holt.

Referee Michael Oliver.

Man of the match Whitehead (Stoke).

Match rating 6/10.

sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
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

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing