Shawcross bolsters fortress

Stoke City 1 Middlesbrough 0

When managers and chief executives talk in future about pulling together for the common good, they should point to Stoke City's Premier League debut season to demonstrate how relatively little can go a long way.

Whether or not the battle for top-flight survival is won – and the signs are increasingly promising – the Potteries folk have made the Britannia Stadium a pulsating, special place.

Fifty weeks ago tonight, barely 15,000 watched a Championship home defeat against Crystal Palace. Now, buoyed by promotion, they flock there and lift the roof at a venue that is as uplifting to home players as it is intimidating to even big-name opponents.

Stoke have taken 28 points at home and four away – a greater disparity than any other side in the top four divisions – and genuinely have what footballspeak terms a fortress. Middlesbrough stood up gallantly to the challenge. They were more fluent and creative than Stoke, only to switch off late on in allowing Ryan Shawcross, a centre-half with a scoring knack, to capitalise on the weapon Gareth Southgate had most frequently warned them about, Rory Delap's long throw.

Boro's manager knew he was in for an odious send-off from away fans near the mouth of the players' tunnel – and wasn't disappointed. Or maybe he was. After helping Middlesbrough to a European final, a Carling Cup triumph and general 21st-century good health, he is suffering because the here and now is below expectations. "The reaction is not nice, but it's the way of the modern world," Southgate said.

A failure to score in seven of their last nine league games is the root problem for Middlesbrough, who have also lost eight successive league away matches. Safety now appears much less attainable for them than for Stoke. "Our home form is just mad. Teams don't like coming here," said the Stoke winger Liam Lawrence.

Goal: Shawcross (84) 1-0.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Wilkinson (Kelly, h-t), Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham; Lawrence, Whelan, Diao (Etherington, 51), Delap; Beattie, Fuller. Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Sidibe, Amdy Faye, Camara, Sonko.

Middlesbrough (3-5-2): Jones; Wheater, Huth, Pogatetz; McMahon (Hoyte, 80), O'Neil, Shawky, Downing, Taylor (Johnson, 86); King (Alves, 56), Tuncay. Substitutes not used: Turnbull (gk), Emnes, Arca, Grounds.

Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).

Booked: Stoke Fuller, Beattie, Whelan, Diao; Middlesbrough Pogatetz.

Man of the match: O'Neil.

Attendance: 26,442.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
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

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum