KENWYNE JONES headed home his first Premier League goal in sixteen months to earn Stoke City a share of the spoils in their eventful clash with Everton at the Britannia Stadium . . . so stretching their unbeaten run to seven matches.
The Trinidad and Tobago international rose to turn in a Ryan Shawcross ball into the box early in the second half to cancel out an unfortunate own goal from the City skipper which had given Everton a first half lead in a fortuitous manner.
City had their chances to go and win the match after Jones had hauled them level shortly after the break with substitutes Cameron Jerome and Peter Crouch going the closest to snatching the winner in one frantic scramble in the closing stages.
Everton had gone ahead in the 36th minute when Steven Pienaar’s speculative shot glanced off Shawcross’ head and looped over Asmir Begovic, but Jones netted the equaliser seven minutes after the break as the Potters hit back.
The draw, the ninth of the season for both clubs, leaves City in ninth place while Everton also stayed in the fourth Champions League spot.
Pulis had made two changes to the side that battled out a goalless draw with Aston Villa a week earlier, one of them enforced by the one-match suspension served by Shotton following his red card in the game at Villa Park.
While Wilkinson filled that vacant position in City’s back four, Adam was welcomed back from suspension and came in for Whitehead.
In blustery conditions, the Potters were first to threaten when Walters swung in an early ball frok the right hand side, but Jones didn’t respond quickly enough to get on the end of it and Coleman cleared to safety at the far post.
Everton responded with a slick move down the right hand side which saw Coleman drag the ball back to Jelavic hovering around the penalty spot and his low, goalbound shot was blocked by Shawcross much to City’s relief.
When some determined work from Whelan and Adam, in particular, worked the ball out to Etherington, he had the space to line up a shot from long range, but he didn’t strike powerfully enough to trouble Howard.
There was another promising moment when City were able to work the ball up to Jones, who had the opportunity to turn and run at the Everton defence, but he chose to shoot early, lifting his 25-yard effort high over the bar.
City best chance of the first half hour then fell to Nzonzi, when a corner was headed back across the area by Huth, but he opted to plant a rather tame header straight into the arms of Howard when he could have let it drop to his feet.
Everton went close to breaking the deadlock when Gibson’s ball into the box took a wicked deflection off Whelan and broke for Naismith, who flicked his shot past Begovic only for Shawcross to hook the ball off the line.
The Potters hit back and exerted some pressure on the visitors’ defence with Howard having to dive off his line to clear a menacing ball into the box.
But it was Everton who went in front in their next attack in rather fortuitous fashion as Pienaar curled a ball into the box with enough pace on it to skid off the head of Shawcross and loop over the despairing dive of Begovic.
Before City could recover from that setback, they so nearly found themselves further behind as Baines, overlapping down the left, pulled the ball invitingly back to Osman, but he somehow sidefooted wide of a gaping net.
Having gone in at the break fortunate to be only one goal down, City almost drew level immediately after the restart.
Whelan picked out Adam peeling off his marker with a chip into the box, but he couldn’t make clean enough contact with his attempted volley and Howard pushed it out before then closing down the midfielder’s follow-up.
Adam did, however, manage to pull it back to Nzoni who had a shooting opportunity but chose instead to try and set up Etherington, who was unable to deliver a telling cross and Everton were relieved to get the ball away.
It was only a brief respite though as City managed to get themselves back on level courtesy of a dreadful blunder by Howard.
Shawcross hoisted a hopeful ball into the box where Jones met it with a well-placed header just inside the ‘keeper’s right hand post, but he got in a tangle and allowed the ball to creep over the line to lock it up at one apiece.
City could have gone in front in their next attack as Jones burst onto a ball through from Whelan and managed to work his way into a position where his first shot was palmed out by Howard and he hit the post with his follow-up.
Everton hit back and forced a corner on the right hand side, but in the lead-up to it they should have been reduced top ten men.
Shawcross went down in a tangle with Fellaini with television replays clearly showing that he had been headbutted by the Belgian.
Jelavic was then fortunate to escape a yellow card when he flattened Shawcross by jumping into him with a clumsy challenge.
Shawcross was then the victyim of more rough treatment from Fellaini with the back of his head and his flailing arm which the referee failed to spot, although it raised the further prospect of the Everton striker facing retrospective action.
City made their first change when Jerome was introduced in place of Adam and the substitute soon made his presence felt as he latched onto a Walters flick. His first shot was blocked by Distin and his follow-up flew harmlessly wide.
Shortly after Crouch was also thrown on in place of Jones, the Potters should have gone in front as Everton were caught napping.
Jerome seized on the initial mistake to fire a low shot at the legs of Howard and when Crouch followed up with the ‘keeper stranded, his goalbound lob didn’t carry enough weight and Distin recovered to head clear.
That was the last opportunity of any note, although deep into injury time Pienaar wriggled his way into a shooting position, but rolled his shot wide of Begovic’s right hand post.