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17:13 2nd October 2011

Potters Pay The Penalty

STOKE CITY were punished for two defensive errors as they suffered their second Barclays Premier League defeat of the season at newly-promoted Swansea City.

Skipper Ryan Shawcross gave away the ninth-minute penalty from which the Welsh club went in front and then Danny Graham seized upon a mix-up at the back to break clear before firing home the all-important second goal six minutes from the end.

The outcome could have been so different, however, if City hadn't been denied by the woodwork on two occasions as Jon Walters hit the bar in the first half and then Glenn Whelan rattled the foot of the post with a free kick shortly after the break.

Although the Potters were not at their best in the first period, there was a massive improvement in their performance after half-time and as well as going close with Whelan's free kick there were a number of other chances to draw level.

Scott Sinclair had coolly converted the early penalty from which Swansea went in front after Shawcross had upended Wayne Routledge, while Graham chose the perfect moment to get his first goal for the Welshmen to ease any late nerves.

It was only City's second defeat in 14 matches at the start of the season and they will welcome the two-week international break after that setback.

In reverting back to his Premier League line-up, Pulis made seven changes to the side that overcame Besiktas in the Europa League, but two players who featured in that game, Etherington and Palacios, were ruled out through injury.

The major surprise was that Sidibe was included on the bench just days after his comeback from a 14-month lay-off with Achilles tendon trouble.

Woodgate made an important interception in the early stages to ensure that Dyer's burst forward ended on the edge of the box and then moments later Shawcross tidied up neatly when Graham flicked on a Gower ball forward.

There was an anxious moment when Angel delivered another ball into the path of Dyer who outpaced Wilson but over-ran the ball at a crucial moment and Begovic was able to come off his line and shepherd it behind for a goal kick.

Swansea's bright opening was rewarded in the eighth minute when they went in front from the penalty spot through Sinclair.

Shawcross lunged in with a challenge when Routledge burst into the box and referee Jones had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

There were no protests from the City players and Sinclair stepped up to slot his spot kick of the diving Begovic to his left.

City could have fallen further behind five minutes later when Routledge cut inside from the left and swung over a menacing cross to the far post when the incoming Graham was only inches away from getting a decisive touch.

The Potters exerted some pressure on the Swansea defence for the first time in the game and it led to them being awarded a free kick for a foul on Shawcross, but Pennant's attempt to curl it over the wall proved to be unsuccessful.

Moments later, they went desperately close to getting back on level terms when Walters charged the ball down and then struck a dipping 25-yard drive which was pushed on the bar by the outstretched hand of Vorm.

A mis-placed backpass by Gower gave encouragement to City as they gained a corner out of nothing but Walters was ruled offside when Pennant played the ball into him at the near post much to the frustration of the striker.

The Potters were forced into making a change on the half hour when Wilson, in challenging Dyer, went down with what appeared to be a recurrence of his hamstring problem. Huth came on with Wilkinson switching to left back.

A penentrating run from Pennant down the right carved out a moment of promise for City, but his cross into the six-yard box failed to find either Crouch or Walters and Monk was relatively untroubled as he headed to safety.

Huth featured prominently in a move down the right which opened up a chance for Delap coming in from the left but he lifted his shot high over the bar when Crouch was also in a good position on the edge of the box.

In some respects, after such a disappointing first half display, the Potters were probably relieved to get to half-time only one goal down and therefore Pulis had the opportunity to try and alter things during the break.

There was an immediate chance for City to put the Swansea defence under pressure, but the delivery of Pennant's free kick was poor and the home side were happy to see it sail beyond the reach of the big men.

Wilkinson, who had been booked in the first half, was caught out of position as Dyer broke forward, but the defender managed to recover sufficiently to prevent the Swansea winger from getting in a telling cross from the right.

City made their second change of the game when former Cardiff striker Jerome was brought on for Delap, meaning that Walters moved to the left hand side. Within seconds, the substitute had a sniff of goal, but his shot on the turn failed to trouble Vorm who gathered it quite comfortably as he moved to his right.

The woodwork once again came to Swansea's rescue as a free kick awarded for a foul on Jerome saw Whelan curl a low drive round the wall and with Vorm well beaten, the 'keeper could only watch as it cannoned against the post.

Midway through the second half, Begovic pulled off a brilliant one-handed save to keep out a stinging drive from Sinclair who had burst forward and then cut in from the left onto his right foot to unleash the thunderbolt.

At the other end, there was more encouragement for City when Walters latched onto a Crouch flick and made room for himself just inside the box before seeing his left foot shot blocked by Williams as lunged at the striker's feet.

Swansea hit back with a swift counter attack led by Sinclair whose run eventually ended with him being brought down by Pennant, but the resulting free kick was fired into the wall by the former Chelsea winger.

City threw on Shotton in place of Pennant in the hope that he could have the same impact that he had made on other occasions.

But it was Swansea who virtually wrapped the game up six minutes from time when Graham pounced on a defensive mix-up and broke clear before calmly slotting his shot past Begovic from just outside the box.

City's frustrating afternoon was summed up right at the end when Jerome's close range header was pushed out by Vorm and Crouch failed in his attempt to bundle it home when a consolation goal at the very least seemed on the cards.

    Data provided by Press Association


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