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21 December 2013
• Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Referee: C. Pawson
• Attendance: 26003
C. Adam 50'
P. Crouch 70'
L. Kozák 66'
FULL-TIME: Stoke City 2-1 Aston Villa. And that's it, Stoke grab a second successive home win to alleviate any relegation talk and leapfrog today's visitors in the table. Mark Hughes' side are now unbeaten in six home games and eight in total thanks to second-half goals from substitute Charlie Adam and Peter Crouch, despite Libor Kozak's equaliser as Villa lost for the third time in a row.
90' + 3'
Adam hits long towards Crouch once more but Lowton is able to get enough of the ball and force it back to Guzan. Can Villa sneak a late, late equaliser here? Into the final few seconds...
90' + 1'
Bacuna frustrates once more as his late tackle gives Pennant and Stoke a free-kick just inside the home side's half.
Villa win a corner on the left after a free-kick deflects out of play but Bacuna's delivery is disappointing and the ball is headed away by Jonathan Walters.
Adam tries to pick out N'Zonzi but the ball rolls out of play before N'Zonzi's forward pass to Crouch is claimed by Guzan.
Yellow Card Ashley Westwood
It's become a rather scrappy end to the game, with Villa doing precious little to get the much-coveted equaliser and Stoke happy to hold them out.
Steven N'Zonzi is scythed down by a frustrated Westwood after he cuts the ball out in midfield. Villa have just not been good enough in attacking areas this afternoon.
Leandro Bacuna is the latest throw of the dice by Paul Lambert, with the main threat in Albrighton coming off for a breather after a wonderful display on the right wing.
Westwood is the latest to try his luck from range but his effort sails wide with Begovic happy to see his effort away from goal.
Albrighton whips in two balls from out wide but the first is hacked wide by Herd and the other cleared well by the excellent Shawcross.
Aston Villa almost engineer another goal out of nothing as Kozak is denied by Begovic's superb save, pawing the ball away for a corner.
And now Crouch hits the post! The corner was headed back in by Shawcross and found the frontman lurking all by himself in the six-yard box but his fancy flick around the corner came back off the base of the post. That surely would have been game over for Villa.
Stoke take off Assaidi and bring on Jermaine Pennant for the remainder of the contest. The home side have a corner too, after Cameron's cross was blocked for a corner.
Assist Geoff Cameron
Goal Peter Crouch
GOAL! Instead, it's Stoke who have the lead and they are back in front! Cameron escaped down the right and supplied an expert cross for Crouch who was able to smash into the unguarded net after Guzan and Clark both missed the ball.
Jordan Nathaniel Bowery
Jordan Bowery comes on in place of Tonev. Are Aston Villa going for the winner here?
Goal Libor Kozák
GOAL! Villa are level and it's an absolute shocker from a Stoke perspective. Wilson nods Guzan's long punt across to Pieters who inexplicably chooses to stoop and head back to Begovic. But Kozak is lurking in the area and accepts the invitation by slamming past the keeper. What a gift.
Supposedly, Herd was booked for kicking the ball away after Adam had been felled. Delph is very lucky to still be on the pitch.
Walters looks to release Adam but Guzan is quick off his line to gather and sends Albrighton hurtling clear before he is blocked off by Pieters. From the centre, Weimann improvises with a deft flick but it is past the far post.
Yellow Card Chris Herd
Adam's ball in is held by Guzan before the Scot is upended by a late challenge from Delph, who appears set to walk off for a red card. Bizarrely, though, the referee opts to caution the bemused-looking Herd. Adam's latest effort is straight at the wall.
Yellow Card Fabian Delph
Stoke fans want Delph sent off for a over-zealous challenge on Crouch but Craig Pawson is once again unmoved and brandishes a yellow instead.
Kozak looks to run clear down the right but is stopped by the impressive Pieters, who does well to adjust and clear the ball.
Major let off for the hosts, as Tonev fails to benefit from Begovic's run into the middle of nowhere; firing across goal after being slipped in by Baker, when the keeper was stranded and his team-mates anticipated the pull-back.
Stoke win another free-kick after Lowton caught Assaidi with another nasty-looking challenge. But this time, it is to no avail, as Cameron is offside at the far post.
Assist Peter Crouch
Goal Charlie Adam
GOAL! And from the free-kick, Stoke are in front. Cameron's diagonal free-kick towards Crouch is headed down by the big frontman to the onrushing Adam, who controls before tucking home across the stranded Guzan.
Yellow Card Ciaran Clark
Adam's ball in is brilliantly clutched at by a dominant Guzan but Stoke keep the pressure up and Clark is late in on Walters, earning himself a booking for his poor challenge.
Pieters is getting forward at will here, his latest venture is slightly more productive, however, as his cross in is headed away for a corner by Clark.
Stoke take a long diagonal free-kick - after Weimann was flagged for offside - which Pieters hooks well wide from around 35 yards out.
And we are underway for the start of the second period as Aston Villa get us going once again. Marko Arnautovic has been replaced at the break by Charlie Adam.
HALF-TIME: Stoke City 0-0 Aston Villa at the interval here, with the hosts perhaps having the better opportunities through Marko Arnautovic and Peter Crouch but the main talking point was whether Marc Wilson should have been sent off for the home side after hauling down Andreas Weimann when the Villa winger looked set to charge through on goal.
Kozak does extremely well to hold up play and tee up Weimann for a crashing effort which has to be blocked by Shawcross.
The delivery is cleared twice before Cameron's cross is headed well wide of the target again by the towering Shawcross inside the Villa area.
Stoke starting to crank up the pressure here and go close twice through Crouch and Arnautovic but Clark and then Baker do well to block the two respective efforts, before Chris Herd concedes a corner.
Walters wins a free-kick after a tussle with Clark but the ball in from Assaidi is headed back closer to the corner flag than the goal by Shawcross. Villa break but Albrighton wastes the chance by shooting wide.
Guzan makes a wondeful fingertip save to deny Cameron's cross-cum-shot from dropping into the top corner before the right-back headed wide from the resulting corner.
Albrighton wins a free-kick after another poor challenge from Pieters but while the ball in evades everybody, Cameron and Kozak become embroiled in a tussle with the American adamant he had been elbowed by the Villa forward.
Tonev tries to take on Ryan Shawcross but the Stoke skipper gets his body in the way and shepherds the ball out of play. Seconds later, the Potters win a free-kick just inside the Villa half but when the ball is sent long towards Crouch, he is outfought by Baker, who clears.
Stoke then earn a corner of their own after yet more good work from Arnautovic on the right flank. Assaidi curls the ball over everybody to find the Austrian lurking at the back post but a cross of his own is caught by Begovic.
Westwood's effort from the free-kick is deflected out of play for a corner, but the ball in from Albrighton is eventually cleared away from danger by a scrambling Begovic.
Wilson is a very lucky boy, after appearing to deny Andreas Weimann a clear goalscoring opportunity. Cameron's ball into the centre-back's feet is miscontrolled and Weimann nips in, but is then hauled down by Wilson's lunging challenge. The visitors protest for a red but referee Craig Pawson only dishes out a yellow.
Yellow Card Marc Wilson
Ciaran Clark earns a corner for the Villans but it is wasted as Albrighton's ball to Tonev rolls harmlessly out for a throw-in to the home side.
Villa forced into some resilient defending as Matthew Lowton has to turn away Assaidi's cross before Pieters' own centre is gathered by Guzan, who is seeing a lot more pressure on his goal as the half progresses.
A nasty tackle from Albrighton on Pieters earns the former a booking, just moments after the Dutch left-back had shoved the winger into the advertising hoardings.
Yellow Card Marc Albrighton
Albrighton's corner is cleared by Stoke, who race downfield courtesy of Arnautovic, who sends in a whipped centre which Baker calmly heads back to Guzan in goal.
Tonev threatens once more, with a sumptuous cross into Kozak but Shawcross is there to clear. Oussama Assaidi attempts to break downfield but the Potters eventually concede a corner after a woeful backpass from Wilson.
Albrighton's early contribution has been fantastic but Tonev has also been a threat and looks to run onto Delph's sliderule pass but once again, the ball is overhit and runs through for a goal-kick to the home side.
Albrighton is at the heart of Villa's latest move, as the visitors engineer another opportunity in an encouraging opening to the game. The winger's ball in is only half cleared by Cameron and it falls invitingly for Tonev, but his effort is straight at the grateful Begovic.
Marc Albrighton is proving a constant thorn in the Stoke defence early on here. First, he takes on Erik Pieters and whips in a cross which the offside Libor Kozak just failed to convert before testing Pieters again down the right until he felled the Dutchman for a Stoke free kick.
Villa have the first real opening of the contest, as Nathan Baker heads straight at Asmir Begovic. The ball in from Ashley Westwood was a devilish one after a neatly-worked corner routine with Marc Albrighton but the central defender's effort was too close to the keeper.
Good vision but a case of poor execution from Fabian Delph, as he tries to pick out Aleksandar Tonev at the back post. His pass is slightly overhit though, and rolls out for a goal kick.
Oussama Assaidi advances on goal from his left-wing station but his cross from out wide goes out for a goal kick.
Arnautovic is freed again but his cross is well dealt with by the retreating Chris Herd, who manages to clear upfield.
Marko Arnautovic goes scurrying down the right but is met by a determined Brad Guzan, who comes off his line early to seize the ball. Moments later, Tonev looks to get away but is thwarted by clever defending from Geoff Cameron.
Stoke earn a corner of their own after good work by Jonathan Walters down the right. The ball in is met by a Marc Wilson effort from just outside the area but Villa get a block in.
Aston Villa win an early corner out on the right-hand side but Aleksandar Tonev blazes over from range after Ryan Shawcross had nodded away Marc Albrighton's delivery.
And we're underway at the Britannia Stadium as Stoke City get the ball rolling.
Villa's win at Stoke in April was their first in six attempts and, with six of the last nine meetings between these two sides ending in draws, expect a close-fought encounter. But Stoke are unbeaten in their last five home matches domestically and have lost only one of their last seven in total, although this has included four draws.
The Midlands outfit have registered more wins and more points on the road this season than at home and can boast a record on their travels this year that Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea cannot beat, losing on just four occasions. Indeed, only Manchester United (two) and Tottenham (three) have fared better than the Villans.
Villa are one of those six teams to leave here with all three points during 2013, proof in the pudding perhaps that the Villans are better suited to playing away from home than at Villa Park.
That said, today's hosts have made their worst-ever start to a Premier League season statistics-wise and have actually lost more home games this calendar year than they have won (W5, L6).
It's a case of returning to home comforts this afternoon for Stoke City, who should be buoyed on from their last outing here in the league, when they won 3-2 against Chelsea. A bore draw at Hull and defeat to Manchester United in the Capital One Cup should do little to dampen spirits at the Britannia for a side who have lost just once at home this campaign.
Villa, meanwhile, must contend without Gabriel Agbonlahor, after he picked up a ban for five yellow cards but are boosted by the return of Fabian Delph and Chris Herd, who has passed a fitness test after a facial injury.
So mixed news for both managers as Ryan Shawcross overcomes a groin problem to start, but Stephen Ireland is ineligible to face his parent club and sits out.
Aston Villa: Guzan; Lowton, Clark, Baker, Herd; Tonev, Westwood, Delph; Weimann, Kozak, Albrighton. Substitutes: Steer, Bacuna, El Ahmadi, Helenius, Luna, Sylla, Bowery.
Stoke City: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; N'Zonzi, Whelan; Arnautovic, Walters, Assaidi; Crouch. Substitutes: Sorensen, Muniesa, Pennant, Palacios, Jones, Adam, Wilkinson.
Antonio Luna, Karim El Ahmadi and Yacouba Sylla are all on the bench while Gabriel Agbonlahor misses out through suspension and Christian Benteke is not in the squad. In come Chris Herd, Fabian Delph, Aleksandar Tonev, Libor Kozak and Andreas Weimann.
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert shakes things up by making five changes to the side that were beaten 3-0 by Manchester United last weekend.
The teams are in, with Stoke City making two changes to the side that drew 0-0 at Hull last weekend as Marc Muniesa and Stephen Ireland make way for Erik Pieters and Jonathan Walters.
Good afternoon and welcome to this LIVE commentary of Stoke v Aston Villa at the Britannia Stadium.
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