Beattie bullet downs City
Stoke City made light of a numerical disadvantage at the Britannia Stadium to take a three-point haul against Man City.
Last Updated: 31/01/09 3:48pm
Stoke City made light of a numerical disadvantage at the Britannia Stadium to take a three-point haul against Manchester City, as James Beattie's first-half header proved to be the game's only goal.
In truth it was the game's only real redeeming point, as Rory Delap's rush of blood to the head deprived his side of a full complement from the 38th minute.
A turgid first half that saw the ball treated with scant regard was final awoken from its slumbers by Delap's trip and hack at Shaun Wright-Phillips. That a sending off for violent conduct was a highlight says much for the game.
Taking umbrage at Wright-Phillips' lunging tackle on Danny Pugh, Stoke's long-throw machine Delap tripped the diminutive wide man from behind before kicking the ball into the City man's torso.
Wright-Phillips was perhaps fortunate not to receive a card of his own as he too retaliated, but rather than sink Stoke, the incident saw them if not soar certainly stirred.
City, lethargic throughout and awful in possession, were caught napping at the back decisively on the stroke of half-time, as Matthew Etherington was given too much time to get in a cross from the left, while Wayne Bridge's challenge on the soaring Beattie at the back post was limp at best.
Beattie, though, deserves real credit for a fine bullet of a header that gave Joe Hart not a prayer in the visitors' goal.
The second period predictably saw Stoke defend in numbers and while City had the odd moment of sustained pressure, Mark Hughes will wonder how so much money can buy so little invention.
City fielded the same side that beat Newcastle in midweek, which now includes seven new signings in the Mark Hughes regime at a cost of £93million.
On a raw day in the Potteries, Manchester City's Brazilian sunshine boy Robinho ignored the biting cold to produce his array of skills, but he faded badly as the game went on and Stoke fought for their unlikely victory.
But it was Stephen Ireland, one of the four remnants of City's fast disappearing past, who should have scored early on when he volleyed wide from the edge of the box while unmarked.
Stoke were competitive, quick into the challenge, and Fuller's surge down the right produced a powerful cross and a sharp interception from Joe Hart.
But after 19 minutes Robinho wasted a glorious chance when City broke from defending a corner to put together a high-speed passing move that created the chance which unfortunately for the visitors mishit straight into Thomas Sorensen's hands.
Stoke worked hard to get the visitors onto the back foot, and to two of Delap's towering throws Ryan Shawcross got in a dangerous header and a neat back-heel that almost caught out Hart.
Then Matthew Etherington got away on the left and fired in a dangerous cross that Fuller could not turn on quickly enough to get in a telling shot.
Amdy Faye needed lengthy treatment after a clash of heads with Nedum Onuoha, producing the five minutes of added time before the break that was to prove costly for the visitors.
The game erupted after 37 minutes when Delap was sent off by referee Martin Atkinson.
Manchester City players were incensed. Bellamy and Pablo Zabaleta rushed to the scene, and TV replays suggested that Wright-Phillips had swung a leg in retaliation at Delap.
But Stoke responded superbly when they took the lead in the fourth of those five added minutes when Beattie headed home an Etherington cross.
Stoke, who had sent on Cresswell for Fuller at the interval, were under instant pressure in the second half.
Manchester City then took off Zabaleta and sent on Elano, whose first involvement was a 56th-minute booking for a trip on Etherington.
Stoke were now defending in depth and Robinho was finding it increasingly difficult to have an impact.
Bellamy volleyed wide on the turn and Robinho saw a long-range drive curl away.
Robinho skied another effort over as City toiled away. Felipe Caicedo came on for Nigel de Jong, but the visitors were not creating anything. Stoke continued to battle away.
Another Robinho effort flashed yards wide, with the Stoke crowd now roaring on their 10 men.
Etherington was withdrawn to allow another defender, Ibrahima Sonko, to help out at the back. Micah Richards went tumbling in the box but despite heated City claims for a penalty nothing was awarded.
|Stoke City||Team Statistics||Manchester City|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||2|
|2||Shots off Target||11|