Premier League - Etherington guides Stoke past Norwich

Sat, 03 Mar 16:52:00 2012

Matthew Etherington's second-half goal secured a 1-0 win for Stoke City against Norwich City in the Premier League at the Britannia Stadium.

Stoke 1 Norwich 0

The former West Ham winger latched onto a header from Cameron Jerome before drilling a fierce shot past John Ruddy in the Norwich goal.

Both managers have attracted plaudits for the way they have built on last season's successes but this was a clash to forget, with little quality of note at a windswept Britannia Stadium.

Tony Pulis made one change from the Stoke side which beat Swansea City last weekend, with Robert Huth returning from suspension to replace Matthew Upson in the heart of defence.

Norwich boss Paul Lambert made three alterations from the team which lost at home to Manchester United. Jonny Howson made his debut after finally returning to fitness from a knee injury, with Elliott Bennett and Russell Martin also in the team.

The two teams mustered just three attempts on target between them in the first half.

A Jonathan Walters snap shot was parried and then gathered by John Ruddy, before good hold-up play from the Stoke striker saw him feed Dean Whitehead who drove into the area and forced a low save from the goalkeeper. Whitehead, who has not scored in the Premier League this season, should really have made more of a rare opening.

Norwich's only serious attempt of the first 45 minutes came when Grant Holt peeled off at the back post and headed straight at Asmir Begovic.

Stoke came so close to taking the lead before half-time. Peter Crouch headed a Ryan Shotton cross goalwards only to see Bradley Johnson block his effort. But the ball again broke to the England striker and his shot was expertly kept out at point-blank range by Ruddy.

The second half continued in much the same vein as the first, Norwich dealing well with a succession of corners and long throws into the area by Shotton.

Stoke just about deserved their goal, scored by Etherington after 72 minutes. Pulis had just made a double change to his forward line, replacing Crouch and Walters with Jerome and Kenwyne Jones.

And Jerome provided the header for Etherington to run onto in the box - and the winger beat Elliott Ward before hammering the ball past Ruddy from a tight angle.

Replays suggested that the throw leading to the goal should not have been awarded to Stoke, with the ball seemingly touching a Potters player last.

Jerome had a chance to extend Stoke's lead late on but after being found in the area by a fine pass from Jones, the former Birmingham City striker hesitated and his shot was blocked by Ward.

Stoke leapfrogged Norwich into eighth place with victory in this eminently forgettable encounter at the Britannia.

Stewart Coggin / Eurosport

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