Premier League - Stoke breeze past Bolton
Stoke overcame gale force winds to notch a 2-0 win against toothless Bolton at the Britannia Stadium.
Left-back Danny Higginbotham opened the scoring for Stoke with a scrappy goal in the 37th minute, bundling home from two yards out after a goalmouth scramble.
Matthew Etherington then doubled Stoke's lead with a second-half penalty, after Zat Knight's clumsy challenge in the box on 63 minutes.
Bolton failed to provide any sort of attacking threat in a furiously windy Britannia Stadium, and were well beaten by an organised, effective Stoke outfit.
The quality of football on display left something to be desired throughout - although conditions hardly helped - and both sides were mostly limited to half-chances.
The first fell to Robert Huth - a constant threat from Stoke's set-pieces throughout the afternoon - who could not direct his towering header from a trademark Rory Delap long-throw on target in the 23rd minute.
Jussi Jaaskelainen then produced a stunning save to tip Kenwyne Jones's close-range half-volley over the bar three minutes later, before Huth headed another glorious chance wide in the 27th minute.
The colossal German centre-half fired another header narrowly wide of the target in the 35th minute, as Stoke subjected Bolton to unrelenting pressure.
Just as the visitors thought they had weathered the storm, Stoke took their lead courtesy of Higginbotham's scrambled finish seven minutes before half-time.
Left-back Higginbotham arrived at the far post to meet a pin-point Tuncay Sanli cross in from the left, and bundled the ball goalwards.
Jaskelainen was perfectly positioned to parry Higginbotham's shot on the line, but the Finn's outstretched leg got a critical final touch to send the ball just over the line.
Bolton emerged for the second half with a greater sense of urgency - no doubt instilled by some half-time hairdryer treatment from Owen Coyle.
Johan Elmander - anonymous in the first half - should have done better with a free header after two minutes, but glanced the effort well wide of Asmir Begovic's goal.
The Stoke keeper was again called into action in the 50th minute, producing a decent save to claw Stuart Holden's free kick away from his left-hand post.
However, Bolton's hard work at the start of the second half was undone in the 63rd minute, as Knight launched into his ill-judged sliding challenge on Etherington inside the area.
The 29-year-old stepped up to take the spot-kick himself, and squeezed it just inside the bottom-right corner.
Jaaskelainen guessed right, and managed to get a firm hand on the ball, but could only tip in against the inside of the post - summing up a frustrating afternoon for the Finn.
Matty Taylor and substitute Rodrigo Moreno both tested Begovic with decent, long-range efforts as the match continued to pass Bolton by, but the visitors rarely looked like spoiling an utterly comfortable afternoon for Tony Pulis's men.
The victory lifts Stoke up three places to eighth in the Premier League, level on points with seventh-placed Bolton.