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Premier League

  • March 3, 2012
  • • 10:00 AM
  • • Bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
  • Referee: M. Oliver
  • • Attendance: 27483

Stoke City 1-0 Norwich City: Etherington nets late winner as hosts make it back-to-back home wins

A domineering display from the Potters saw them build on their momentum from last weekend's win over Swansea and leapfrog their opponents

STOKE-ON-TRENT, England -- Stoke City kept up its momentum with a successive Premier League win for the first time since December, after disposing of Norwich City 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium.

The hosts victory meant once more they leapfrogged their opponents on the day in the league and gave them further chance of cementing themselves in the top half of the table, as the Canaries were doubly disadvantaged with Everton and West Brom also getting wins.

Stoke dominated the first half, but a lack of clinical finishing and fantastic save from John Ruddy denied them a chance to go in the lead, with the Canaries' 'keeper stopping Peter Crouch's effort just before the break.

Matthew Etherington made the difference in the second however, the Potters taking advantage of Norwich's willingness to allow them to attack frequently. The winger used a mix of luck and skill to blast the ball past Ruddy and into the far corner.

There was just a single change from Stoke as it looked for some consistency following its 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 favor of manager Tony Pulis of late.

Norwich meanwhile made just the two, 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 goalkeeper taking hold of the ball after spilling his initial save.

Dean Whitehead was next up, latching onto a ball into the area and 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 front-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 frenzied 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 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 ensure the balance was intact going into half-time.

Stoke didn’t give up its momentum as the second half began and continued its bombardment of Norwich’s area with long-balls and aerial threats.

The Canaries were forced into defending to their fullest potential 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 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’ net.

The solitary goal was enough to see the Potters once more rise above their opponents on the day and further back their chances of a top-half finish.