Premier League - Stoke edge five-goal thriller
Tue, 09 Nov 21:51:00 2010
Stoke City edged Birmingham City 3-2 in a thrilling Premier League encounter at the Britannia Stadium.
Dean Whitehead's scrambled effort five minutes from time sent the home fans into raptures to cap a rousing second period of the game.
A dreadful first half which had only Robert Huth's goal for Stoke to show for it was transformed in the second 45 minutes.
Ricardo Fuller scored a brilliant goal to put Stoke 2-0 up only for Birmingham to score twice in four minutes through Keith Fahey's volley and Cameron Jerome's glancing header.
The win sees Stoke leap-frog the Blues into 15th place in the table.
Ryan Shawcross missed out on the clash following his red card at Sunderland at the weekend but his defensive partner Huth was present to make an impact at the other end two minutes before the break.
Danny Collins crossed from the left where Whitehead was lurking on the edge of the box. He laid the ball off to Ricardo Fuller who shot right-footed.
It was blocked by Scott Dann but fell to Stoke skipper Huth eight yards out and he smashed it through Ben Foster into the net.
The home side could have doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time.
Huth leapt to meet Matthew Etherington's corner and it looked like the ball would find the net. But it struck Fuller, standing on the goal line, and Birmingham were able to clear.
Only seconds earlier Foster had saved well from Rory Delap's shot from inside penalty area.
Stoke had started brightly but it was the visitors that had the first chance of the game.
Sebastian Larsson's dipping half-volley from 25 yards did not do enough to trouble Asmir Begovic in the Stoke goal.
Kenwyne Jones had Stoke's opening opportunity; Jermaine Pennant's cross from the right was met by the Trinidad and Tobago forward but it bounced wide from six yards out.
Ten minutes later Fuller had an effort from 18 yards which was blocked by the impressive Dann.
Shortly after Craig Gardner forced Begovic into a save low to his right after a surging run from midfield.
Then, before Stoke's breakthrough, Fuller forced Foster to save his deflected header from six yards out after Jones's strong header.
The second half got off to a flying start when Huth got in front of Johnson but sent his header from seven yards wide of the far post.
On the hour, after the introduction of Fahey, Birmingham got their first corner and from it Begovic saved Johnson's goal-bound header.
With 20 minutes to go the game transformed.
Birmingham should have equalised when Jerome broke the offside trap on the left and crossed. Danny Higginbotham, in trying to defend, slammed the ball against his own post and Stoke survived.
Stoke then produced a wonder goal.
Fuller broke from Higginbotham on the halfway line and charged down the right wing. He cut inside Stephen Carr before curling a left-footed effort beyond the sprawling Foster into the far corner for 2-0.
It was a little late but the goal lit the blue touch-paper and brought Birmingham to life.
Within two minutes they had halved the deficit.
Higginbotham made a hash of a headed clearance and Fahey volleyed the visitors back into the game.
In a flash they were level. Larsson's delicious cross from the right was sent inside the far post from 12 yards by Jerome's glancing header.
But with just minutes to go Whitehead settled a pulsating match and sent most of the crowd home very happy indeed.Mark Applin / Eurosport