MARK HUGHES admits his players were not able to hit the heights of their recent performances in the Premier League but drew huge encouragement from the fact that they were able to record maximum points for the fourth time this month against Hull City.
Peter Odemwingie's fifth goal for the Club midway through the second half was enough to claim a third straight victory, and in the process establish a six-point gap between themselves in tenth and West Ham United one place below.
Speaking to Stoke City Player following the game, the Welshman spoke of his pleasure at the victory despite acknowledging that the opening 45 minutes was well below the recent standards that his players had set.
"It was an important win for us, despite not being able to hit the heights of our performances against West Ham and Aston Villa," the 50-year-old said.
"You have to give the opposition some credit because they came here and made it very difficult for us by putting players behind the ball and made it hard for us to penetrate them in-behind.
"We found it really difficult to unlock them during the first 45 minutes, but I thought we were much better in the second half, particularly once we had made the initial breakthrough.
"We had more opportunities to take the game away from them, but at 1-0 you are always a little bit apprehensive because one mistake or one bit of magic and they are back in the game.
"In the end though they never really created too many real chances, with the exception of maybe one superb save that Asmir had to make during the first half."
The 50-year-old added: "All in all it is very satisfying because we didn't play as well as we have done in recent weeks, but we were able to get the job done and reach the 40-point mark."
Hughes also confirmed that his decision to recall Stephen Ireland at the expense of Wilson Palacios was a difficult one to make following the Honduran ace's impressive showing at Villa Park six days earlier.
"It was a tough call, and it was maybe harsh on Wilson because I thought he was exceptional against Villa," he said.
"I had a decision to make though, and because we were the home team I wanted to be a little more positive and try to dictate the tempo of the game.
"We wanted to get players in and around their holding players so I opted to bring Stephen back into the eleven.
"It didn't work as we were hoping during the first 45 minutes but following the break we were more better and our attacking players were able to influence the game in the way that we had hoped they would."