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18:42 30th October 2010

Everton 1 Stoke City 0

YAKUBU'S second half strike was enough to inflict a fourth straight defeat on Stoke City at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon... but you couldn't help but feel that things should have panned out differently had referee Lee Probert not ruled out what appeared to have been a perfectly legitimate goal from Tuncay.

The Turkey international thought he had put the Potters ahead midway through the second half after capitalising on a defensive mistake from Toffees defender Leighton Baines, however his strike was harshly chalked off for an apparent foul.

Despite that, chances continued to come for both sides in what was an exciting second 45 minutes, but it was the hosts who stole all three points thanks to Yakubu, who rifled home from 8-yards after an uncharacteristic mistake from Abdoulaye Faye.

Ahead of the game, Tony Pulis made four changes to the starting line-up with Danny Collins, Faye, Marc Wilson and Matthew Etherington all returning after sitting out of Wednesday night's Carling Cup defeat against West Ham United.

Bosnian international goalkeeper Asmir Begovic retained his spot in the team after regular number one Thomas Sorensen aggravated a long term elbow injury during the week.

The game also came too early for Ricardo Fuller, who remained home in the Potteries nursing a shoulder injury, whilst Jermaine Pennant, who has been suffering from a virus, was named amongst the substitutes.

Everton were buoyed by the news that Mikel Arteta had passed a late fitness test having been absent from their 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane seven days earlier.

The Spaniard returned to the heart of midfield at the expense of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov to partner Australian star Tim Cahill, whilst Yakubu was preferred to Louis Saha as David Moyes' lone front-man.

Tuncay and Etherington linked up superbly well down the left to forge the games first real opening in the fifth minute, however the former West Ham wingers ball just evaded the head of Kenwyne Jones, who came steaming in at the back post.

Whilst the Toffees were enjoying the lion's share of possession during the initial exchanges, it was the Potters who again went close ten minutes in. A lapse of concentration between Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka allowed Jones to steal the ball inside the danger zone, but unfortunately his effort sailed harmlessly wide of Tim Howard's post.

At the other end Yakubu latched onto a neat through ball from Steven Pienaar but failed to take the most of his opportunity as he fired tamely straight into the palms of Begovic.

That opportunity spurred the hosts on though and they began to look the more likely of the two sides to open the scoring. Pienaar, who was impressive for the hosts, curled an effort goalwards from 25-yards, which Begovic did well to gather midway through the half, before Faye denied Phil Neville a clear sight at goal with a crucial intervention after Cahill had freed the Toffees skipper inside the penalty area.

City's backline stood firm to soak up spells of heavy pressure from the hosts, and in fact went close to taking the lead themselves shortly before the half time interval.

Etherington's dangerous corner evaded a packed out penalty box before finally finding Faye, only for the Senegalese man to miscue his effort and skew well wide.

The second half began with the hosts having the first opportunity as Seamus Coleman weaved past two Potters defenders but couldn't find a way past Begovic, who got down quickly to deny the youngster.

Wilson, who was again impressive for the visitors, then maybe should have done better after beating both Cahill and Leighton Baines, but rather than teeing up Tuncay, he opted to try his luck and rifled well over the bar.

Minutes later, Shawcross went agonisingly close with a crisp volley from 15-yards, after Jagielka could only half clear another dangerous Etherington centre, whilst the City wideman again caused the Everton backline chaos with another sublime ball which culminated in Tuncay firing home, only for referee Lee Probert to harshly rule it out.

A far more eventful and open second period continued as Cahill saw a powerful effort blocked by Faye, with Dutch midfielder John Heitinga blazing over after reacting quickest to latch onto the rebound.

A tenacious run from Turkey captain Tuncay failed to reap its rewards moments later after Jagielka brilliantly intervened just as the City striker attempted to square the ball to the unmarked Jones inside the six-yard box. A goal seemed inevitable given the two sides attacking approach during the second half, and we were proven right with 23 minutes remaining.

An uncharacteristic mistake from Faye allowed Yakubu to nip in and steal the ball and lay it off Cahill, who saw his strike crash back off the post straight into the path of the former Portsmouth star, who sublimely cut inside of Collins and lashed an unstoppable strike into the roof of the net.

The goal prompted Pulis into a double substitution as he introduced both Pennant and Whelan, with Walters and Wilson the two players making way.

The lively Pennant was immediately at the heart of the action as his skill and trickery gave the Potters added panache in the final third.

It was Etherington on the left flank though who came closest to earning the visitors a point, as he flashed an effort agonisingly wide of the far post after using his pace to get the better of Neville.

The Potters pushed forward in search of a late leveller, but for all their endeavour and effort, the hosts managed to stand firm and extend their unbeaten run to five games.

    Data provided by Press Association


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