TONY PULIS hailed the tremendous spirit and commitment of his players . . . but then warned that there is still much work to be done to ensure that Stoke City secure a sixth season in the Barclays Premier League.
Pulis was delighted with the performance which earned the Potters their first win in eight matches at Queens Park Rangers and gave them vital breathing space as they endeavour to climb well clear of the relegation zone.
A first half strike from former Rangers striker Peter Crouch and a late penalty from Jonathan Walters came as a massive relief to all after a disappointing sequence of results and a worrying slide down the Premier League table.
“The lads were brilliant today, absolutely brilliant,” beamed City’s manager after the securing that elusive victory at Loftus Road.
“But there is still a lot of work to be done. We’ve got another massive, massive game against Norwich next week and it’s important we show the same spirit and commitment that has earned us this excellent result.
“I think the players worked as hard today as they have done all season, so they fully deserved to come out of it with a win.”
He added: “As I’ve said before, we’ve been playing well in our recent away games – Arsenal, Fulham, Newcastle and Everton – without having the rub of the green and in many instances, we have shot ourselves in the foot.
“The difference today is that we kept a clean sheet, and when you keep clean sheets, you have a chance of winning the game.”
Though there was a considerable amount of pressure on City going into the game, Pulis stressed that they had stuck to their principles.
“You’ve got to handle the pressure,” he said. “You’ve got to make sure you stay as level as you can which is what we’ve tried to do.
“We’ve got four cup finals to come in this mini-season and we still need to claim as many points as we possibly can from them.”
Pulis admitted that it was a “big blow” to lose Marc Wilson with a recurrence of the hamstring strain which had sidelined him for two weeks.
It was highlighted by the fact that the Republic of Ireland international made two of the most important contributions in the game, both of them interceptions; firstly the one which paved the way for the opening goal and then when he injured himself in halting Loic Remy in his tracks midway through the second half.
“Wilo has damaged his hamstring again, but we’re not sure at this stage how long he will be out,” revealed City’s manager.
“He’s a big player for us, which is why we have been anxious to get him back, and he showed his importance to us today.”