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18:58 11th December 2011

Etherington Double Sinks Spurs

TWO-GOAL Matthew Etherington fired Stoke City to a third successive Barclays Premier League victory as Tottenham Hotspur's record-breaking run of triumphs came to an end in a Britannia Stadium thriller before the television cameras.

The former Spurs winger struck both his goals in the first half as City gained the upper hand against Harry Redknapp's title hopefuls, but they had to survive a second half fightback before claiming the win which lifted them back into eighth place.

Tottenham's on-loan striker Emmanuel Adeybayor pulled a goal back in the 62nd minute after referee Chris Foy had awarded them a penalty, even though television replays appeared to show that it was a contentious decision.

Though City had some anxious moments, Thomas Sorensen was in outstanding form and Spurs were hampered by the fact that Younes Kaboul was sent off in the closing stages after committing his second bookable offence on Jon Walters.

Tony Pulis' resurgent side hung on in a pulsating finale in which they could so easily have added to their lead and this victory follows on from those against Blackburn Rovers and Everton in the Premier League to lift them up the table.

It also brought Tottenham's remarkable run to an end in which they had won ten out of eleven matches and claimed six successive wins.

Pulis named an unchanged line-up after Wilkinson failed a fitness test on his injured back, so the only change saw the return of Delap on the bench, while Tottenham were without influential skipper King meaning his place in defence went to Gallas.

City almost made a dream start by going in front inside the first minute as Spurs only half cleared a long throw-in from Shotton to the edge of the box where Etherington met it with a stinging volley that forced a fine save out of Friedel.

The early chance lifted the crowd and put the Potters firmly on the front foot with Shotton bursting down the right and firing a shot across goal.

Having already had one chance to break the deadlock, Etherington carved out another opening for himself when he cut inside Walker and unleashed a low shot with his right foot which Friedel got down smartly to save quite comfortably.

City sustained the pressure and Huth's far post header was deflected behind for a corner after Crouch had flicked on a long throw from Shotton.

The first real threat for Tottenham predictably came from Bale charging down the left who found plenty of space but his low cross was well read by Huth who came across to clear the danger with Adeybayor hovering just behind him.

It was little surprise however that City went in front in the thirteenth minute and it was a case of third time lucky for Etherington.

When Walters flicked on a Shotton throw-in, Crouch managed to drag the ball back from a tight angle to the edge of the six yard box and Etherington nipped in ahead of Walker to tuck the ball past Friedel to reward the Potters for a fine start.

Buoyed by that goal, City continued to hold the upper hand and Shotton showed that he is a more than capable replacement for Pennant by leaving Assou-Ekotto in his shadow and his cross was only inches from the head of Walters.

Spurs composed themselves and slowly began to build pressure in their search for an equaliser and Huth made two vital interceptions to halt Lennon and then Adeybayor before Van der Vaart was ambitious with a long range shot at goal.

City gained some respite from that period of Spurs possession when Whelan whipped over a corner from the left for Huth to head over the bar.

But back came Tottenham as they earned a free kick for Woodgate's foul on Lennon which earned the former Spurs defender a yellow card.

Although that came to nothing, Modric forced an excellent save out of Sorensen diving low to his right with a snap shot from some 25 yards.

Adeybayopr also tried his luck from long range, but he failed to extend the big Dane in the way that Modric had done just moments earlier.

With half-time approaching, City gained the relative comfort of a two goal cushion when Walters flicked on another Shotton throw in and Etherington was on hand again to meet it with a well-placed first time shot beyond Friedel.

Shotton featured prominently in ensuring that City started the second half in much the same vein as first his run down the right made good headway before he then launched two more throw-ins into the box which caused problems for Spurs.

Redknapp had reacted to Tottenham's disappointing first half display with two changes at the break of an attacking nature with Defoe and Bassong coming on in place of Assou-Ekotto and Lenno, but the Potters continued to press forward.

The frustration for Spurs showed when Defoe did pick the ball up some 30 yards out and tried his luck with a shot that flew high over the bar.

But the whole complexion of the game turned in the 62nd minute when Modric went down in the box after Whelan's challenge and the referee pointed to the spot, although replays showed that the Spurs player went down far too easily.

Adeybayor took the resulting spot kick and kept his nerve to send Sorensen the wrong way, thus maintaining excellent goalscoring form.

The momentum was suddenly with the visitors and Parker strode forward to unleash a shot which was brilliantly turned over the bar by Sorensen.

City's 'keeper was called upon to make another crucial save when Modric weaved his way into a position to fire a shot goalbound from 20 yards.

Pulis' side were having to defend bravely in the face of Tottenham's fightback and Huth headed off the line when Sorensen palmed out a cross as far as Kaboul at the far post and he met it with a thunderous cross shot.

When the ball was played back into the box, Adeybayor was in the clear, but the linesman's flag ruled him offside as he tucked his shot away.

It was end-to-end stuff as City had moments to catch Spurs on the break, but their final ball let them down on occasions with Tottenham stretched.

Spurs' hopes of getting back on level terms were dealt a blow when Kaboul, who had already been booked, brought down Walters in full flight and referee Foy had little alternative but to give the defender his marching orders.

City then went desperately close to restoring their two-goal lead as Shawcross saw his glancing header from Etherington's corner brilliantly saved by Friedel and then in a carbon copy of the move the Potters captain clipped the upright.

    Data provided by Press Association


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