A domineering display from the Potters saw them leapfrog their opponents and move into eighth place in the Premier League tableStoke City kept up their recent momentum by securing their second Premier League win in a row for the first time since December, after despatching Norwich City 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium.
The hosts made just a single change as they looked for some consistency following their win over Swansea City and replaced Matthew Upson with Robert Huth at the back, with the German returning from a three-match suspension. Promising winger Ryan Shotton kept his place ahead of regular flanker Jermaine Pennant, with the 23-year-old very much in favour with manager Tony Pulis of late.
Norwich meanwhile made just the two changes, with Jonny Howson finally getting his full debut after arriving at Carrow Road from Leeds United in January. Grant Holt started the game as the sole striker up top, with five midfielders behind as the visitors looked to restrict the Potters’ movement in the middle.
Stoke had the best of the early moments of the match, going close on two occasions inside the first 25 minutes. Jonathan Walters with a stinging shot from just inside the Canaries’ box tested John Ruddy, the Norwich keeper taking hold of the ball after spilling his initial save.
Dean Whitehead was next up, latching onto a ball into the area and he sent his effort low and hard towards the far corner, but Ruddy once more made sure the danger was eliminated with a save into his chest.
Norwich’s man of the hour Holt had the visitors' first opportunity of the afternoon with a header at the near post from a searching cross. The striker’s accuracy was there, but so was Asmir Begovic to make the save at his top-corner.
A dangerous attack from Stoke just before the break saw Peter Crouch at the back post with a perfect chance to put the Potters in the lead and he sent a powerful strike at Ruddy. However, the Canaries’ keeper repelled the striker’s effort instinctively with one of the saves of the season to maintain his clean sheet going into half-time.
Stoke didn’t give up their momentum as the second-half began and continued their bombardment of Norwich’s area with long-balls and aerial threats.
The Canaries were forced into some stout defending and were constantly on the back-foot thanks to the Potters’ unrelenting attacking play.
It was just a matter of time before the hosts made their dominance pay and they rewarded the Britannia faithful for their patience with a brilliantly taken goal. Etherington bursting into the Norwich area and getting a bit of luck with a failed tackle from his marker to open himself up to goal and strike into the far corner of Ruddy’s net.
The solitary goal was enough to see the Potters secure all three points once more rise above their opponents on the day and further enhance their chances of a top-half finish.
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