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21:51 29th January 2013

Another 2-2 Draw With Wigan

STOKE CITY suffered the frustration of surrendering a two-goal lead as they had to settle for yet another 2-2 draw with Wigan Athletic at the Britannia Stadium.

The Potters looked to be on course for their first Premier League victory of 2013 when Peter Crouch gave them a two-goal cushion early in the second half after captain Ryan Shawcross had fired them in front midway through the first period with his first goal of the season.

But Wigan hit back with strikes in quick succession from James McArthur and Franco Di Santo and despite chances at both ends, the two sides claimed a point apiece.

It was the fifth time in eight meetings with Wigan that the outcome has been 2-2 and the draw leaves City in tenth place in the Premier League table with 30 points.  

In recalling Cameron to the starting line-up, Pulis had opted to start the game with three central defender and employ Whitehead and Etherington as wing backs.

After all the problems with the snow at the weekend, the game began in torrential rain coming down in a thick mist and there was immediately a long delay as Huth was treated for a nasty head wound after a clash of heads with Di Santo.

The big German was able to continue, but only with his head swathed in bandages and he clearly looked somewhat dazed by what has happened to him.

The first threat from the Potters began with a block in his own area by Etherington and he then burst forward to tee up a chance for Walters who decided to try his luck from long range, but although he struck it well, it was some way off target.

City were enjoying plenty of possession in the Wigan half as they probed for an opening and after Nzonzi and Whelan had linked up well to switch play, Adam lined up a long range shot which flashed only inches past Al-Habsi’s left hand post.

The deadlock was broken midway through the first half when a moment of good fortune led to Shawcross hooking home his first goal of the season.

The Potters had been awarded a free kick for a foul on Whelan which Adam floated into the area where Beausejour cleared onto the back of McCarthy’s head and the ball fell kindly for the England defender in front of goal to apply the finishing touch.

Buoyed by that goal, City strung the passes together with renewed confidence with Adam featuring prominently in many of their moves, and the Scotland international cut in on his right foot to send a dipping shot fractionally over the bar from 20 yards.

There was, however, a scare for the Potters when Beausejour found space on the left to fire over a cross to the incoming McArthur, but he was unable to control his volley which flew well wide of the target without troubling Begovic.

With four minutes added on at the end of the half for the injuries to Huth and Di Santo, Wigan caused more alarm when Beasejour delivered a low cross from the left which Begovic pushed out and Huth had to complete the clearance.

City had to be content with just a one-goal advantage at the break, but they stretched their lead immediately after the restart.

It was the impressive Adam who carried the ball deep into Wigan territory, but despite having other options, he tried a low shot which was pushed out by Al-Habsi and Crouch was on hand to calmly the slot the ball into a gaping net.

Any hopes that the early goal would be the springboard to an emphatic victory were immediately checked by Wigan hitting back.

Espinoza threaded a pass through to McArthur breaking forward from midfield and he kept his nerve to fire his shot in off the inside of the post.

The game was dramatically turned on its head when Wigan grabbed an equaliser as Espinoza delivered a ball into the box where McArthur headed it back into the danger zone for Di Santo to produce a stunning finish into the bottom corner.

Wigan sensed the opportunity to take control of the game and they almost went in front when McArthur got forward again to unleash a fierce drive which was directed straight at Begovic who nevertheless had to push it away for a corner.

The situation prompted Pulis to make two changes as he sent on Jerome for Adam and then followed it up by replacing Nzonzi with Wilkinson.

After a frustrating spell in the game, the Potters eventually carved out an opening when Whitehead slipped a pass through to Jerome who outpaced his marker and unleashed a fierce shot which was only fractionally wide of the near post.

City were still having to concede too much possession to the visitors which caused the players and the fans frustration, and with the game drifting into injury time, Di Santo got on the end of a Maloney cross but glanced his effort wide.



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