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17:28 26th December 2010

Blackburn Rovers 0 Stoke City 2

ROBERT HUTH'S fourth goal of the campaign and a late Marc Wilson strike secured the Potters a comfortable victory at Ewood Park on Boxing Day… and banished the 'December blues'.

Tony Pulis' side had failed to record a win during the month since winning promotion back into the top flight in 2008; however that was well and truly put to bed as his side brushed aside a lethargic looking Rovers side.

Germanyinternational Huth got the ball rolling immediately after an uneventful first half as he glanced home Matthew Etherington's corner, before super-sub Wilson pounced on Ricardo Fuller's clever ball across goal to drill home deep into stoppage time.

Prior to the encounter, Pulis made one change to his starting line-up as he re-introduced former Rovers youngster Jon Walters at the expense of Jamaican international Ricardo Fuller, who dropped down to the bench.

With temperatures plummeting to around  minus 6 by the time play got underway, it was no surprise to see the game played at a high tempo as the players looked to acclimatise themselves to the arctic conditions.

A series of trademark Rory Delap long-throws had the hosts in a flutter early on, and it was his fourth howitzer in just the 15th minute which could, and maybe should have led to the visitors taking the lead.

His missile was glanced on towards the back post by the head of Ryan Shawcross, leaving in-form winger Matthew Etherington with what appeared to have been the simplest of tasks in tapping home.

However, with the goal at his mercy, he uncharacteristically diverted the ball back across goal, inches wide of Paul Robinson's left hand post.

The visitors continued to show more willingness to push forward in search of the first goal of the afternoon, and again it very nearly came moments later.

The tireless and industrious Delap did well to outmuscle David Dunn in the middle and played a clever one-two with Etherington, but after he was freed inside the 18-yard box he opted to play the ball across goal rather than test Paul Robinson in the Rovers goal.

Blackburnvery rarely threatened the Potters backline during a pretty subdued first half, and when they did manage to forge themselves any openings they couldn't thwart a dogged and determined City backline.

In fact, the only other real effort of any note in the first period came from Huth, who on two occasions, saw powerful free-kicks well blocked by Rovers home debutant Grant Hanley.

The excitement was rife at the start of the second period though as Huth barnstormed his way through a crowded penalty box to meet Etherington's in-swinging corner with aplomb, to heap more misery on the clearly disgruntled Rovers supporters.

Things could have gone from bad to worse for them as Pulis' side looked to turn the screw into the hosts with a series of opportunities which went begging.

Firstly, Kenwyne Jones saw a powerful header superbly palmed over the bar by England 'keeper Robinson, before Dean Whitehead headed straight at the former Spurs stopper from six-yards out after Etherington had exquisitely picked him out.

There were brief moments of optimism for the recently appointed Blackburn boss Steve Kean as both Mame Diouf and protégé Hanley brought out superb saves from Bosnian Asmir Begovic, but in truth a leveller for the hosts would have been extremely harsh on Stoke.

The introduction of Junior Hoillet ensured a nervy final few minutes, but the win, which elevated the Potters up into eighth place, was secured right at the death when substitutes Fuller and Wilson combined to send the travelling 3,000 supporters into delirium.

    Data provided by Press Association


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