Bold substitution from Tony Pulis extends home side's unbeaten run at the Britannia Stadium after England striker's gaffe in the first half had given David Moyes' men the lead.A solo strike from substitute Cameron Jerome ensured Stoke City stretched its unbeaten home run to six matches as Everton cemented its grip on seventh spot in the Premier League.
Peter Crouch's disastrous own goal just before halftime had given David Moyes' men the lead but an inspired triple substitution from Tony Pulis brought immediate reward as Jerome equalized 22 minutes from time. Everton looked the more likely to snatch the victory late on but on a night when Liverpool was shocked at home against Fulham, a point will be a more than satisfactory return from a trip to the Brittania Stadium.
Stoke went into the match having only won once in the last eight matches and Tony Pulis made three changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Arsenal on Saturday. Matthew Upson, midfielder Rory Delap and striker Kenwyne Jones came in for Ryan Shotton and Glenn Whelan and Jermaine Pennant, with the latter having been charged with drunk driving by police on Monday.
David Moyes brought in Victor Anichebe and Tim Cahill to the starting lineup after the 4-0 win over Fulham – the third time in successive games Everton has scored four goals.
Any chance of the club setting a new Premier League record and extending that to a fourth match seemed far-fetched as Stoke dominated the early exchanges. Robert Huth had the first look of the match when Rory Delap’s long throw picked him out at the back post but his tame header was easily gathered by Tim Howard.
A superb piece of control from Matthew Etherington then saw the winger volley just over for Stoke in the 14th minute, while Everton had its first sight of goal when Sylvain Distin’s cross just eluded Nikica Jelavic. The familiar combination of Delap and Huth saw Stoke test Howard’s goal once again n the 18th minute but the German could only head over the bar this time.
Meanwhile, Anichebe’s 12th Premier League start of the season lasted only 22 minutes as he was replaced by Magaye Gueye after twice going down for treatment. Everton finally created a goal-scoring opportunity five minutes later when Marouane Fellaini’ blocked shot feel to the feet of Leon Osman, but his shot was easily covered by Asmir Begovic in the Stoke goal.
After the stuttering start, the introduction of Gueye helped give the visiting side the edge and his twisting run down the left flank ended with the Frenchman firing in a cross that fell to the feet of Jelavic, but he could only shoot over the bar. Steven Pienaar was the next to try his luck as he cut in and powered a shot towards goal that Begovic did well to tip over.
At the other end, Jones headed over yet another Delap throw before the breakthrough finally came on the stroke of halftime. Pienaar took a free kick quickly to Tony Hibbert, whose cross into the box caused mass confusion as the ball eventually ricocheting into the net off Crouch’s left shoulder.
Stoke came out for the second half looking determined to preserve its five-match unbeaten home run but it was Everton which picked up where its had left off before the break. Referee Anthony Taylor waved away penalty shouts after Osman's shot was blocked by Huth, before the midfielder blazed wide after a sumptuous exchange with the influential Pienaar.
Besides the usual threat from set pieces, the home side was struggling to create any meaningful chances until a bold triple substitution from Pulis in the 67th minute. Jerome and Ricardo Fuller replaced the unlucky Crouch and Jonathan Walters up front, with Delap making way for Whelan in midfield.
The move paid dividends within 60 seconds as Jerome picked up the ball on the halfway line and set off on a powerful run towards the box. A lucky deflection presented the 25-year-old with a shooting opportunity and his strike beat the diving Howard via a deflection off Phill Jagielka's boot.
The former Cardiff striker almost doubled his tally straight away when his looping header just dropped over the bar, with Jagielka heading wide from a corner for Everton soon after. Osman then came close when he found space for a shot but could only find Begovic.
Stoke threw men forward in search of a victory that would have moved the club up to 11th spot in the table, although it was the visiting side which looked most likely to grab all three points through the ever-threatening Jelavic. The Potters almost won it with the last kick of the game when Huth's stinging shot deflected off the wall but was caught by Howard.
So the shares were spoiled as Everton increased its lead over its city rival to three points with two matches left to play.
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