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16:05 12th December 2009

Stoke City 2 Wigan Athletic 2

THOMAS SORENSEN'S last minute penalty save was enough to ensure Stoke City picked up a point from an enthralling encounter in front of the live television cameras at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Referee Mike Dean awarded the visitors a controversial spot kick after Robert Huth brought down Jordi Gomez, despite the Spaniard appearing to be at least a yard offside. However, the Denmark international brilliantly denied Hugo Rodallega in added time to make it three successive spot kick saves.

The game had earlier burst into life after just 15 minutes when Emerson Boyce headed the visitors into the lead. However, City responded well and drew themselves level shortly before half time through Tuncay, who opened his account for the Club in his first home League start.

Wigan were back in front midway through the second half though as Maynor Figueroa caught Sorensen off guard and scored what will arguably be the goal of the season from inside his own half.

City wasted no time in getting back into the contest though, and did so just 57 seconds later thanks to Ryan Shawcross, who headed home Matthew Etherington's corner.

The Potters had chances to secure all three points late on through both Fuller and Tuncay, but in the end they will be happy with a point thanks once again to Sorensen's heroics.

Ahead of the game, Tony Pulis sprang a surprise by partnering Ricardo Fuller along with Tuncay, whilst Danny Collins was dropped to the bench for the first time with Shawcross coming back into the heart of defence and Andy Wilkinson resorted to a more unfamiliar left back spot.

The game got underway on a bitterly cold early afternoon and City started the brighter of the two sides. In fact, they almost found themselves ahead after just three minutes, as Dean Whitehead drilled an effort agonisingly wide of the post after neatly controlling Matthew Etherington's in-field ball 18-yards out.

A trademark Rory Delap throw-in then caused a brief moment of panic amongst the Latics backline as his long ball found its way through to Tuncay, however, with his back towards goal he was unable to divert the ball goalwards, and instead Titus Bramble cleared the ball away from danger.

Wigan surged up the other end of the pitch moments later and were awarded a free-kick 25-yards out when referee Mike Dean adjudged Salif Diao to have tripped Wales international Jason Koumas. From the resulting kick, Hugo Rodallega stepped up to drive in a testing effort, only for Thomas Sorensen to comfortably gather.

There was nothing the Denmark international could do just after the quarter hour mark though when Boyce reacted quickest to his point blank save and nodded the ball into an empty net to put Roberto Martinez's side into an early lead.

The goal seemed to wake up the Potters as they immediately set off in search of an equaliser; one which nearly came from Jamaican international Fuller. The City striker rose highest to meet Delap's teasing ball, however, his header drifted just over with Chris Kirkland stranded.

Senegalese star Diao was next to try his luck but after firing an effort goalwards Mario Melchiot bravely threw himself in front of the ball to divert it out for a corner. Despite Tuncay firing across a dangerous ball, no-one was able to get on the end of it and Kirkland was allowed to come out and punch it away from trouble.

City continued to press forward though and a deserved equaliser finally came in the 38th minute thanks to man of the match Tuncay. The Turkey skipper latched on to a long punt forward, cut inside and smashed the ball into the back of the net from a tight angle, much to the delight of the majority of the Britannia Stadium.

He went desperately close to a second 60 seconds later when his acrobatic bicycle kick was outstandingly blocked by Boyce, with the ball looking to be heading into the top left hand corner. The Turk had certainly lifted the spirits of the supporters and his tenaciousness earned the Potters a corner right on the stroke of half time. Unfortunately, the visitors were able to clear their lines and the half ended all square.

Martinez was forced into a change during the interval as Boyce was forced off with a head injury which he picked up whilst bravely putting the Latics ahead in the first half. His replacement was on-loan Chelsea youngster Scott Sinclair.

The Potters suffered an early scare at the start of the half as an unmarked Paul Scharner somehow failed to make contact with Charles N'Zogbia's dangerous ball into the penalty area, with the goal at his mercy. He was almost made to pay for the miss by Tuncay, who curled a delicate free-kick inches over the crossbar from the tightest of angles.

City's assault on the Wigan backline continued and they should have been ahead on the hour mark when Fuller burst through on goal after neatly controlling Dean Whitehead's through-ball. But with Tuncay waiting at the far post, Fuller opted to shoot and dragged his effort wide, just inches away from Tuncay's outstretched boot, as he looked to divert his effort into the back of the net.

Pulis then introduced Glenn Whelan at the expense of the more defence-minded Diao as he looked to continue to lay siege on the opposition. The Republic of Ireland star looked rejuvenated and after playing a neat one-two with Etherington, he flicked an effort just wide from 15-yards.

Tuncay was next to try his luck, but after brilliantly controlling the ball his effort was somehow deflected marginally over the bar by Scharner. With City looking so dominant, it seemed inevitable that a goal would come... and it did, however, not for City.

Having been felled by a late challenge from Delap, Figueroa stepped up to take the free-kick inside his own area and spotted Sorensen off his line. With unfounded precision and power, he fired the ball almost 70 yards, and he along with 27,000 supporters watched it unbelievably find its way into the top left hand corner to put the visitors ahead totally against the run of play.

But in true Potters fashion they refused to let the sucker punch run them over, and they were back on level terms before Wigan had even finished celebrating taking the lead. Straight from the kick-off, City won a corner, which Etherington fired in and Shawcross powered the ball home to send City's supporters into delirium.

Pulis thrust James Beattie on in one last ditch attempt to pick up all three points in the 81st minute, and he looked lively as he helped tee up Tuncay, but just as he readied himself to fire the ball goalwards he was charged down by Melchiot, before the former Chelsea man hacked the ball away for a throw-in.

Just as the fourth official announced there would be an additional five minutes of time added on, the visitors were given the chance to steal all three points, as the referee blew up for a controversial spot kick.

But Sorensen came to City's aid and ensured justice prevailed by maintaining his exceptional record at saving penalties.

    Data provided by Press Association


    The Potters played out four replays to finally beat Bury in the FA Cup in 1955