Pulis pleased by Stoke players spirit

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The Independent Football

Stoke boss Tony Pulis hailed his players' resilience after they survived Birmingham's comeback last night to secure a 3-2 win and their first points in five Barclays Premier League games.

The Potters took a deserved first-half lead at the Britannia Stadium through Robert Huth and looked home and dry when Ricardo Fuller's fine effort doubled their advantage in the 71st minute.

But the Blues, as they had on Saturday against West Ham, swiftly erased the two-goal deficit thanks to substitute Keith Fahey and Cameron Jerome, setting up a tense finale.

It was the hosts who eventually emerged triumphant as Dean Whitehead pounced five minutes from time and Pulis was delighted with the character his side showed in putting the setback - and their run of four league defeats - firmly behind them.

"We've got a great group of players who never give up and they are resilient," said Pulis.

"What we needed was a win, which we have got and it has lifted us a little bit."

Asked if he thought his hopes of a win were gone when Birmingham equalised, Pulis said: "Yes - when they got the second goal it was very deflating.

"But I thought in the first half, it was as good as we have played, getting the ball wide nice and early, and we caused them lots of problems.

"The big disappointment was that we weren't coming in at half-time more than one goal up.

"We started the second half well and then had a mad 15 minutes where, after Ricardo's fantastic goal, they pressed on and had nothing to lose.

"After the previous 70 minutes, we started to take a step back, and fair play to Birmingham, they kept going and they nearly nicked something."

Pulis' opposite number Alex McLeish bemoaned the defensive lapses that led to Whitehead's winner.

"It would have been a great point and I thought the way we were going at the time (of the equaliser), the momentum was with us," the Blues boss said.

"We were right on top at two each, and their third goal was a dog's breakfast of a goal. It was shocking.

"We have lost some uncharacteristic goals this season. The defenders have not been poor individually - we have still defended well and we saw Scott Dann and Roger Johnson battling against two big centre-forwards, a good 50-50 battle.

"But to lose the goal the way we did was soft to say the least."