JON WALTERS coolly fired home his first Premier League goal for Stoke City to give them their fourth win in five games over Blackburn Rovers at the Britannia Stadium.
The £2.75 million signing from Ipswich Town latched onto a through ball from man-of-the-match Matthew Etherington to score against the club where he began his career.
Walters, who opened his account for the Potters in the Carling Cup tie against Shrewsbury Town, struck in the 48th minute and despite having plenty of other chances, Tony Pulis' side hung on to claim all three points and continue their climb up the Premier League table.
The star of the show was undoubtedly Etherington, who went close to scoring himself on three occasions, two of which were brilliantly saved Paul Robinson.
With Pulis pressing his claims for an England call-up, the former West Ham player could hardly have done more on this occasion and he has now had a hand in all but one of City's goals this season, which was Kenwyne Jones' equaliser against the Hammers.
Pulis was boosted by the availability of Jermaine Pennant, who had recovered from a hamstring strain, and Ricardo Fuller who was remarkably declared fit after dislocating his right shoulder in last Sunday's win at Newcastle.
Pennant was one of three players brought into the starting line-up along with Abdoulaye Faye and Rory Delap, while Fuller was named among the substitutes.
Faye made an uneasy start to the game, having trouble with a long ball forward which almost broke for Mame Diouf, but fortunately Ryan Shawcross was on hand to clear the immediate threat from Blackburn in the opening exchanges.
City's first chance was created when Etherington switched to support Pennant on the right briefly and his cross was headed goalbound by Jones, but Robinson had little difficulty in saving that close range effort from the record signing.
The former England 'keeper was, however, relieved to a long range shot from Jones flash narrowly past the post as the Potters began to get on top.
Robinson then pulled off a brilliant one handed save when a snap shot from Walters was heading for the top corner after a long throw in from Delap had caused confusion in the Rovers defence and sailed all the way through to hit the far post.
Blackburn went close to taking the lead in the 15th minute when Sorensen half punched clear a cross from El Hadji Diouf and Emerton volleyed the ball goalbound, but fortunately for City, Shawcross was covering with a header away.
Another of Delap's trademark throw in found the head of Jones at the near post but Robinson was alert to the danger and saved quite comfortably.
After Robert Huth and Gail Givet had both been booked for clumsy challenges, Etherington had a couple of good chances to break the deadlock.
On a burst into the box, the winger unleashed a left foot shot that hit the sidenetting and then hammered a volley goalbound at the far post after being picked out by Pennant's cross, but Robinson pulled off an excellent reflex save.
City went in front three minutes after the break and it was Etherington who was the provider once again to continue his remarkable record.
He slipped the ball into the path of Walters who was bursting forward and he shrugged off Christopher Samba's presence before calmly slotting his shot past Robinson.
Moments later, Walters tried to repay the compliment when he found Etherington charging through the middle, but the winger's shot was brilliantly saved by the Rovers 'keeper.
City continued to exert pressure in search of an all-important second goal and another Etherington cross caused problems for the visitors defence, but Jones had an effort blocked, Huth then saw his attempt at goal fly well wide of the target.
Pulis introduced Fuller in place of Pennant as City continued to press for another goal and he was immediately in a move that almost did the trick.
His pass released Etherington down the left hand side and the winger's cross hung invitingly for the incoming Jones but his header was just off target.
When City were awarded a corner in injury time, substitute Glenn Whelan's cross from the right was volleyed over the bar by Huth who was the only one of City's big defenders who ventured forward for that particular set-piece.