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17:19 31st December 2011

Frustration For Potters

CAMERON JEROME made a dramatic introduction as a second half substitute . . . but couldn't prevent Stoke City being held to a 2-2 draw by Wigan Athletic in their final match of a memorable 2011 at the Britannia Stadium.

The £4m million signing from Birmingham City was involved in the penalty incident which enabled the Potters to claw their way back into the game and then grabbed his first Premier League goal for the club in a dramatic finish.

But battling Wigan, who had taken the lead through Victor Moses on the stroke of half-time, claimed a valuable point when another substitute Ben Watson stepped off the bench to calmly slot home another penalty right at the end.

Although City created plenty of chances throughout the game and hit the woodwork when Robert Huth went close with a header, they had to settle for a point which meant they had drawn their last two home matches of the year.

Moses had put the Latics in front just before the break by turning home a Hugo Rodallega cross, but they were reduced to ten men when Gary Caldwell was adjudged to have handled Jerome's goalbound header in the 77th minute.

Jon Walters calmly slotted home the spot kick and when Jerome broke through to score, seven minutes later, a win seemed on the cards.

But Wigan were themselves awarded a penalty in the closing stages for a foul on Rodallega and Watson made no mistake from the spot.

Pulis had been boosted by the return to fitness of Crouch, while Huth was also declared fit after suffering a knock in the Boxing Day match.

There were also recalls to the starting line-up for Wilkinson, Delap and Pennant, with Jones, Woodgate, Whitehead and Shotton making way.

There was immediate encouragement for the Potters as Etherington whipped over a free kick from the left and Crouch stretched to drag the ball back across goal when Shawcross appeared to be in a better position coming in behind the striker.

City exerted plenty of pressure in the early stages and Pennant featured prominently in their attacks by sending over two menacing crosses, the second of which was headed back across goal by Crouch, but there nobody on to capitalise on it.

Although the Potters looked threatening on occasions, it was Wigan who drew the first save out of Sorensen with a long range shot from Gomez.

The Danish international dealt comfortably with that ambitious effort, but had to be more alert when Rodallega fired another 25-yard shot goalbound.

Some neat work from Palacios paved the way for Etherington to deliver a cross from the left, but Al-Habsi advanced off his line to gather it and moments later Huth saw his firm header drift wide of the far post after he rose to meet a Delap throw-in.

Sorensen had to be on his toes again to palm over a long range shot from Stam as Wigan once again broke out of defence to great effect.

Back came City as Wilkinson and Pennant both played prominent parts in a move that eventually led to Delap firing over a shot from the edge of the box, and then in their next move Wilkinson blasted a shot wide after being set up by Pennant.

A moment of hesitancy by Sorensen almost allowed Rodallega to nip in behind the 'keeper, but Shawcross had read the danger well and got back to clear the threat. However, Wigan were growing in confidence after being under pressure.

Stam was shown a yellow card for hammering the ball into the crowd in frustration, but he had the satisfaction of playing a part in the move moments later which led to the Latics taking the lead right on the stroke of half-time.

It was the full-back's ball which released Rodallega down the right and his low cross was lifted into the roof of the net by the incoming Moses.

City's players were out early after the break, but they were a still a little sluggish in starting the second half as they searched for an equaliser.

Pulis was forced to make a swift change as Wilkinson, who had been struggling with a knee problem in the closing stages of the first half, was replaced by Shotton.

Their first chance came predictably enough from a corner swung over by Etherington, but once again Huth was off target when he rose to meet it with a header.

The German international was, however, unfortunate not to level it up at one apiece when he rose at the far post to meet another Delap throw-in, but his header hit the inside of the post and bounced down into the grateful arms of Al-Habsi.

Wigan were managing to soak up everything that the Potters threw at them, so it was little surprise with 20 minutes remaining that Jerome was introduced as the second change of the afternoon to replace the ineffective Etherington.

Within moments of his introduction, Jerome was involved in the incident which changed the course of the game. He was on hand to head Crouch's knock back goalbound and that was clearly blocked by the arm of Wigan skipper Caldwell.

The referee pointed to the spot and then after much deliberation, he had little alternative but to show Caldwell the red card.

Despite the delay before taking the spot kick, Walters kept his nerve and slammed a low shot to the right of Al-Habsi to make it one apiece.

The whole momentum was now with City and urged on by the crowd, they pushed forward in greater numbers in search of a winner.

The ground erupted when Jerome continued his dramatic introduction by latching onto a through ball from Walters and calmly slotting his shot past the advancing Al-Habsi for his first Premier League goal for the club.

But in a dramatic finish to the game, Wigan were back on level terms in controversial fashion from the penalty spot.

There seemed little contact with Rodallega as he went down in the box, but referee Oliver pointed to the spot and the Latics opted to bring on substitute Watson to take the penalty, sending Sorensenthe wrong way with his sweetly struck kick.

There were howls of protest deep into injury-time when the referee could have awarded a third penalty when Shawcross was sent crashing to the floor in the box, but the official decided on that occasion not to point to the spot.

    Data provided by Press Association


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