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16:58 1st May 2010

Stoke City 0 Everton 0

CITY wrapped up their Britannia Stadium campaign with a well earned point against in form Everton at the Brtitannia Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Neither side were able to find a breakthrough throughout the clash as Delap missed City's best opportunity in the second half whilst the Toffees thought they had won it through Phil Jagielka, only for Howard Webb to chalk it off for an infringement by Victor Anichebe late on.

The result sees Tony Pulis' side elevate themselves up above both Fulham and Blackburn Rovers into eleventh place going into the final two games of the season against Fulham on Wednesday and Manchester United in eight days time.

Ahead of the game the City boss responded to last weekend's drubbing at Stamford Bridge by making four changes to his starting line-up, though in fairness two of those were inflicted on him as both Thomas Sorensen and skipper Abdoulaye Faye were ruled out through injury.

Their places in the team went to Bosnian international Asmir Begovic, who made his first start since completing a £3.25m switch in January, whilst England World Cup hopeful Ryan Shawcross was restored back into the defence partnering German star Robert Huth in the middle.

Danny Collins was replaced by the more industrious Andy Wilkinson, with Mamady Sidibe being deemed fit enough to start at the expense of David Kitson having overcome a groin injury which had ruled him out of action for the past few weeks.

The Potters, who looked determined to put last weekend's 7-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge firmly behind them, started brightly with the lively Ricardo Fuller winning the hosts a series of early corners, though nothing would come of them as the Toffees back line held firm.

The Jamaican international was again at the thick of the action shortly later when his surging run into the box culminated in him squaring for team-mate Sidibe, only to slide the ball agonisingly behind him allowing the visitors to clear the danger.

At the other end Shawcross was called into action for the first time as he slid in brilliantly to deny Victor Anichebe, who cleverly beat Andy Wilkinson inside the 18-yard box, whilst he rose highest to glance Rory Delap's first long throw-in of the afternoon just wide in the 20th minute.

Nigerian international Anichebe then brought the best out of home debutant Begovic from range by forcing him into a smart save after finding a gap in the City backline to fire a thunderous effort goalwards.

Wilkinson's deep delivery into the danger zone was almost met with aplomb by Sidibe, who attempted an audacious bicycle kick, only to miss-time his strike and allow former Manchester United goalkeeper Tim Howard to gather the ball.

Republic of Ireland ace Glenn Whelan was next to try his luck from range after being teed up by Fuller, however, he failed to keep his strike down as it flew well over the crossbar and high into the Seat Stand, housing around 2,500 Evertonians.

The Potters had to withstand some heavy pressure from David Moyes' side as the half drew to a close, with both Anichebe and Mikael Arteta forcing both Shawcross and Huth into a couple of superb last ditch challenges to ensure the scoreline remained goalless going into the interval.

Two minutes into the second period the hosts should have been ahead when Delap found himself with the goal at his mercy after a lovely move down the left led to Etherington playing him through, but he somehow fired wide from 8-yards.

That missed opportunity failed to dampen the Potters spirits though as they continued to look the more likely of the two sides to break the deadlock as Whelan fired wide from 35-yards, after Etherington had seen a shot from a similar position blocked by the brave Phil Jagielka.

The onslaught continued when leading goalscorer Fuller latched onto a clever ball from Sidibe and curled the ball towards Etherington at the back post, however, the ball narrowly evaded the impressive wideman as the visitors continued to hang on.

The Toffees gradually began to get more into the game as it went on with Anichebe twice going close. Firstly, he stole a march on Wilkinson at the backpost to meet Leon Osman's in-swinging ball, only to fire straight at Begovic, before he went even closer with a rasping effort from 25-yards which curled beyond the Bosnian stopper only to drop inches wide of the left hand post.

Substitute Jack Rodwell, who was thrust on by Moyes along with Yakubu in a late effort to steal the points, saw his effort diverted behind goal via the outstretched leg of Higginbotham. From the resulting corner the visitors thought they had taken the lead when Jagielka headed home Arteta's corner only for the linesman to correctly rule it out after Anichebe had impended Begovic whilst in an offside position.

Fuller then went agonisingly close after Whelan had laid him off, before Moyes' side somehow hung on for dear life as two Etherington corners wreaked havoc inside the 6-yard box. There was even a strong shout for handball which was turned away by referee Howard Webb much to the displeasure of the City players.

Pulis threw one last roll of the dice in a bid to secure the win by replacing Etherington with Liam Lawrence, Sidibe with Turkey skipper Tuncay and Delap with Danny Pugh. The trio of substitutions almost linked up to lethal effect within a minute of their introductions as Pugh fed Tuncay, but his ball in towards Lawrence was hacked clear by Joseph Yobo.

There was still time for Lawrence to test Howard with a strike from long range in stoppage time, but despite his and the rest of the teams effort they were forced to settle for a point against an Everton side, who have lost just twice in their last 23 games.

Following the game the players and management staff showed their appreciation to the supporters by undertaking a lap of honour, which was extremely well received by the supporters.


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