TONY PULIS felt an enormous sense of relief after Stoke City secured their first Barclays Premier League win of 2013 to consolidate their position in tenth place in the table.
Pulis saw his side build up a two-goal cushion going into the closing stages of the encounter with Reading at the Britannia Stadium, but they then had to survive an anxious final few minutes after Adrian Mariappa had halved their lead by converting a rare chance for the visitors.
City were especially relieved that goals from Robert Huth and Cameron Jerome earned them the three points after surrendering a two-goal lead in their last home match.
“I would have been absolutely devastated if we had not won the game today,” commented Pulis after his side earned their first League victory since Boxing Day.
“I thought over the 90 minutes, there was only one team going to win the game, but in the end I suppose we just are relieved more than anything to get the win.
“It was a good performance, we got plenty of balls into their box and we created some good chances. We deserved to be leading when we came in at half-time.
“But I told the players at half-time that if we kept playing that way and kept pressuring them in the way we had been doing, the goals would eventually come.”
He added: “We picked the pace up in the second half and the two substitutes made the difference. Cameron is a great impact player and it was a fabulous strike.
“It was also lovely to see Huthy get on the scoresheet, because he hasn’t scored for five or six months. We had a sequence of six or seven corners in the first half when we had them under a lot of pressure, so you always sensed a goal might come that way.
“Ryan got his first goal of the season in our last home match, now Huthy’s got one which is good because we’re a team that relies on everybody in the group scoring goals.
“The only disappointing thing from my point of view is they score from a set-play. I don’t think Asmir has had a shot to save until he picks the ball out of the back of the net.”
When asked whether Reading should have been awarded a penalty in injury-time, Pulis was happy that his side got a break which sealed the 2-1 victory.
“If it was a penalty, then thank goodness we’ve got a break because we deserved it,” stated City’s manager. “I haven’t seen it myself. Firstly, I was told it was a penalty, but then someone has said that it wasn’t from a different angle.”
Though it was a welcome win for the Potters, Pulis put things into perspective by saying: “We’re in tenth place, we’ve got 33 points and we’ve got 12 games to go.
“The problem is that people get carried away. This is a massive, massive season for everyone in the Premier League, the financial implications at the end of the season are enormous, so there is a lot of pressure on all the clubs outside the top six or seven.
“I have such respect for the Chairman and the Coates family for what they have done for this Club, and I want to get there for them, as much as anything else.
“If we can secure Premier League football for another season, I will be just so delighted for them because they have put so much money and so much time and effort into this Football Club, and they deserve it. There is still work to be done, but we’re in a good position.”