STOKE CITY’S Premier League campaign gathered pace in November as Tony Pulis’ side bagged three wins in front of the Britannia Stadium faithful.
However, the month got off to a disappointing start as we were beaten 1-0 at Norwich City. Bradley Johnson’s header shortly before the interval settled matters, although Kenwyne Jones and Jonathan Walters squandered gilt-edged chances in the closing stages.
We bounced back a week later by claiming our second Premier League victory of the campaign at the expense of struggling Queens Park Rangers.
It wasn’t exactly pretty stuff, but few were complaining after Charlie Adam’s 52nd minute strike proved to be the only goal of the game.
Asmir Begovic had to pull off a stunning reflect save to deny Esteban Granero, while Peter Crouch and substitute Michael Kightly also went close for the hosts.
We went in search of our first away win of the top-flight campaign against West Ham in front of the Sky Sports cameras and looked to be on course to achieve that aim when Walters fired us into a first half lead from a set-piece meticulously planned on the training ground.
But West Ham hit back after the break and secured a 1-1 draw thanks to a Joey O’Brien goal, although television replays suggested he may have been offside.
A returned to winning ways was accomplished when Fulham visited Staffordshire and it was once again that man Adam who proved to be the hero.
The Scottish international grabbed his second goal in as many home games as he swivelled to score midway through the first half after a neat knock down from Peter Crouch, prompting Pulis to suggest that he would profit from sticking close to the big striker.
That goal proved decisive, although Ryan Shawcross rattled the crossbar with a header and Robert Huth forced visiting ‘keeper Mark Schwarzer to make an outstanding save.
But Fulham were dangerous and Dimitar Berbatov forced a fine save out of Begovic late on as they looked to claim some reward from the game.
A late, late show earned us a third successive home win with substitute Cameron Jerome providing the inspiration against Newcastle United.
Stoke had looked to be heading for defeat when Papiss Cisse bagged an opportunist goal early in the second half, firing home after Begovic had failed to hold a shot from Demba Ba.
But Jerome created an 81st minute equaliser for Walters and four minutes later lashed home what proved to be the winner as the game finished in dramatic fashion.
Away from the club scene, Shawcross made his long-awaited international debut with a 16-minute run-out as a substitute in a 4-2 friendly defeat in Sweden, thus becoming the first Potter to play for England at the level since Mark Chamberlain 28 years earlier.
Off the field, Chairman Peter Coates’ Charity Ball raised more than £28,000 for locally-based community projects, while we announced plans to seek planning permission for the possible expansion of the South East corner of the Britannia Stadium.