Pulis reaps benefit of cuddling Kitson

Stoke City 1 Sunderland 0

It is less than a month since the Stoke manager, Tony Pulis, lamented the problems he was facing in attracting what he called the "next bracket" of Premier League-class players to a club shackled with a less than fashionable image.

But times are changing at the Britannia Stadium. On Saturday, Pulis was able to sit £10m worth of recently acquired talent on the substitutes' bench – Robert Huth and Tuncay San – and his team were still too good for a Sunderland side including Darren Bent who, ironically, rejected Stoke's overtures in the summer.

Bent might have changed the course of the game had he accepted one of three first-half chances which came his way. As it was, the former Tottenham striker was left to ponder whether he joined the right team wearing red-and-white stripes as Stoke, though far from sophisticated, suggested they are capable of shifting their ambitions this season beyond mere survival and into the next bracket of Premier League clubs.

Pulis has spent wisely, adding two international players, the German defender Huth and Turkish striker Tuncay, to his capture of midfielder Dean Whitehead, from Sunderland, yet his greatest pleasure was derived from a player he bought 12 months ago.

Striker Dave Kitson, a club record £5.5m signing from Reading, endured a difficult first season at Stoke and was shipped back out on loan to the Madejski Stadium after failing to settle in the Potteries.

His 43rd-minute volley was his first Premier League goal since May last year and, Pulis believes, a turning point. "In management there are some players you have to cuddle and some you have to kick up the backside," said the Stoke manager.

"Dave came back this summer a lot better in his mind. He was much more relaxed as an individual. He's grown more into the group, too. He didn't do that last year because of the problems he was having. We're pleased with that and, hopefully, this is one of many goals he'll score for this football club."

The Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, was not in the mood to put an arm around any of his players after watching his side succumb to another set-piece goal. Bruce, never afraid of physical combat during his career as a central defender, believes his squad needs "toughening up" and is hoping to sign the Hull defender Michael Turner to add to his capture of John Mensah from Lyons.

"People tell me this was a strong squad last season, but it avoided relegation by the skin of its teeth," Bruce said, "so something must be wrong. The Achilles' heel is the physical element and we've got to deal with that. You have to be able to put your head in where it hurts." Bruce confirmed he has agreed terms with Stoke to sell defender Danny Collins, adding: "It's now up to the player to decide."

Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Wilkinson, Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham; Lawrence, Delap, Whelan, Etherington (Whitehead, 78); Fuller (Tuncay, 84), Kitson (Huth, 89). Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Griffin, Pugh, Cresswell.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Gordon; Bardsley, Ferdinand, Nosworthy, McCartney; Malbranque (Campbell, 58), Cana, Cattermole (Henderson, 80), Richardson (Reid, 58); Bent, Jones. Substitutes not used: Carson (gk), Collins, Leadbitter, Da Silva.

Referee: M Jones (Cheshire)

Booked: Sunderland: Cana, Nosworthy.

Man of the match: Lawrence.

Attendance: 27,091.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
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: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power