A STUNNING comeback in front of the live television cameras on Sunday afternoon secured Stoke City back-to-back home victories in the Barclays Premier League for the first time this season.
Substitute Jonathan Walters proved to be the Potters’ hero by thunderously heading home Oussama Assaidi’s inch-perfect delivery from the left touchline 15 minutes from time.
Charlie Adam’s penalty right on the stroke of half-time had restored parity after Wilfried Bony had earlier tucked away his spot following an off the ball incident involved the Ivory Coast international and Ryan Shawcross.
The victory was no more than Mark Hughes’ side had deserved however, having looked the more likely of the two teams to net a decisive goal following the half-time interval.
Prior to kick-off the Welshman was handed a major pre-match boost with the news that Mame Diouf and Victor Moses were both declared having both been rated as doubtful after picking up recent injuries.
The inclusion of Diouf was one of three changes made to the side from the one that succumbed to defeat against Sunderland two weeks earlier with Stephen Ireland and Dutchman Erik Pieters also returning.
Ireland was a like-for-like replacement for Glenn Whelan, who suffered an injury whilst on international duty, and Pieters returned to the team at the expense of Spanish under 21 starlet Marc Muniesa.
Right on the back of a pulsating encounter at Loftus Road, the SKY television cameras will have undoubtedly been hoping for an equally as explosive encounter in the Potteries… and they weren’t to be disappointed.
In fact, the game couldn’t have burst into life any quicker as the visitors displayed the pace and panache that had helped to elevate them to the summit of the Premier League table during the opening weeks of the campaign.
Some delightfully intricate football culminated in Gylfi Sigurdsson being played through one-on-one with Asmir Begovic just three minutes in, but rather than opting to shoot he attempted to take the ball around the giant Bosnian and managed to confuse himself in the process and run the ball out of play.
The Potters were struggling to contain the visitors during the early exchanges and more neat football between Ki Sung-Yeung and Sigurdsson resulted in the latter running through on goal but he wasn’t able to beat Begovic, who saved superbly with his outstretched leg.
After the initial bombardment by Garry Monk’s side, the Potters managed to gain a foothold on the game and began to play with a real sense of purpose and passion, and ask serious questions of the Swans backline.
Man of the match Adam created a half opportunity for himself by dispossessing Sigurdsson inside his own half before setting off on a barnstorming run only for his thunderous effort to drift agonisingly wide of goal.
Diouf then acrobatically fired an effort wide of goal before he very nearly capitalised on a defensive mix-up inside the 6-yard box, only for Ashley Williams to come to his side’s rescue with a goal saving last ditch challenge.
There was drama at the other end soon after though when referee Michael Oliver surprisingly pointed to the spot following an off the ball incident involving skipper Shawcross and Swans hit-man Bony.
Clearly disgruntled by the decision the Stoke players and supporters voiced their disapproval, but Oliver stuck to his guns, Bony dusted himself down, and then confidently stroked the ball into the bottom corner of the net.