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23:32 1st May 2012

Super-Sub Jerome Rescues Potters

CAMERON Jerome stepped off the bench to rescue the Potters a point from their penultimate home game of the season against in-form Everton on Tuesday evening.

The former England Under-21 star superbly rifled home his eighth goal of the campaign just minutes after being introduced from the substitutes bench to cancel out Peter Crouch's unfortunate first half own goal.

Jerome's strike proved no less than the Potters deserved, having improved significantly during the second period, following an unusually lethargic first half showing. 

Pulis made three changes to the side that had drawn with Arsenal at the weekend as Upson, Delap and Jones were all called up at the expense of Shotton, Whelan and Pennant, while Everton had a number of notable absentees.

David Moyes' side, who were endeavouring to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches in the Premier League, were, however, without skipper Neville, recent signing Gibson and England pair Baines and Rodwell.

Jon Walters endures a bloodied head against Everton. ACTION IMAGES

In a somewhat subdued atmosphere, City carved out the first opening when Delap launched a long throw-in to the far post where it was met by Huth, but the assistant referee flagged for offside when Crouch tried to deflect it in.

There was an anxious moment for Begovic when he was put under pressure by a backpass and saw his hasty clearance canon off Anichebe, but fortunately for the Bosnian 'keeper, it flew harmlessly wide of the target.

Etherington, who had made a lively start, had a good opportunity to break the deadlock when a Distin clearance fell to him on the edge of the box and he brought it under control before sending a dipping volley over the bar.

The Delap-Huth combination then caused more problems for the Everton defence as the experienced midfielder launched another of his trademark throw-ins into the box for the German to go close with his firm header.

Nikica Jelavis closes down Ryan Shawcross. ACTION IMAGES

Everton encountered even more difficulties defending against Delap's throw-ins as two more caused a frantic scramble in the box and their cause wasn't helped by the fact that Anichebe limped off to be replaced by Gueye.

They did, however, pose their first threat when Fellaini, who had been operating in a deep role, popped in the Potters' box to get in a shot that was blocked and that broke to Osman who forced a good save out of Begovic.

When City responded to that scare with a period of pressure, it was predictable that another Delap throw-in led to another chance and once again Huth was on the end of it but his looping header was tipped over the bar by Howard.

There was then a warning sign of the threat posed by Jelavic as Gueye whipped over a cross from the left flank which carried through to the Croatian, but the ball flew off his knee and cleared the bar by a matter of inches.

Jon Walters gets to grips with Nikica Jelavic as Robert Huth looks on. ACTION IMAGES

Encouraged by that, Everton pressed forward and went close on a couple of occasions as Pienaar, cutting in from the left hand side, unleashed a fierce drive which took a deflection off a defender as it fizzed over the bar.

Moments later, City struggled to clear the ball and Gueye unleashed a thunderous drive from the left hand edge of the box which flashed past the upright.

The deadlock was eventually broken a minute before the break with the softest of goals for the visitors which stemmed from Hibbert's menacing cross from the right. The ball ricocheted off Crouch's shoulder as he stooped to try and clear the danger, rolling beyond the reach of Begovic and in at the far post.

The crowd raised the volume level at the beginning of the second half, which produced a response from the Potters as they attempted to get back on level terms, but they failed to make the most of their possession.

Matthew Etherington and John Heitinga battle for the ball. ACTION IMAGES

In fact, it was Everton who carved out the first real chance of the half as Pienaar burst down the right and slipped a pass into the path of the onrushing Osman, but he snatched at his shot and flew wide of the target.

When City then mounted a series of promising moves without making headway, Pulis took the bold step of making three substitutions as Whelan, Fuller and Jerome were sent on in place of Delap, Walters and Crouch.

And the move paid off within seconds as Jerome latched onto a ball forward from Whitehead and outpaced two Everton defenders before steadying himself to fire a left foot shot past Howard to level it up at one apiece.

Cameron Jerome equalises for the Potters against Everton. ACTION IMAGES

The Potters had the momentum at this stage to go on and claim all three points and the lively Jerome was only a fraction too high with a glancing header when he rose to meet a cross sent over by Etherington.

Fuller twisted and turned his way past three players soon after, but his final ball proved to be just too weak to reach the unmarked Jones at the backpost.

Both sides pushed forward in search of a dramatic last gasp winner, and it was the aforementioned Jones who had the chance to seal all three points in stoppage time, however, he acrobatically volleyed the ball just over Howards's crossbar after the visitors failed to clear their lines.

There was even more late drama when Huth rifled a 30-yard free-kick goalwards, but Howard was able to readjust himself to gather the ball, after it had deflected wickedly off the outstretched leg of Distin.

Ricardo Fuller takes on Tony Hibbert. ACTION IMAGES

    Data provided by Press Association


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