10-man Potters narrowly beaten by Everton at the bet365 Stadium...
STOKE CITY’S Premier League future is hanging in the balance after succumbing to a second home defeat in the space of a week.
Boss Paul Lambert and his players had spoken openly about the importance of this particular encounter on the back of Monday’s defeat against Manchester City, but failed to chalk up the three points they needed to elevate themselves out of the drop zone.
The hosts started brightly enough, looking the side more likely to open the scoring, but saw the game turned dramatically in the visitors favour when Charlie Adam was harshly shown a red card for clumsily lunging in on Toffees midfielder Tom Davies.
The one man advantage didn’t really have a telling influence on the opening 45 minutes as the treacherous weather conditions in truth ruined the spectacle out on the field.
Both sides huffed and puffed in a bid to forge an opening following the break, but it was Sam Allardyce’s men who gained the advantage midway through the second half thanks to January acquisition Cenk Tosun.
The Turkish striker, who continued to make a major impact in Everton blue, fired home from point blank range at the third attempt, despite standing in an offside position, after a combination of Jack Butland and Kostas Stafylidis had stifled Theo Walcott.
Lambert responded by thrusting Maxim Choupo Moting and Saido Berahino in to action, and it paid immediate dividends as Choupo-Moting prodded home an equaliser after latching onto man of the match Joe Allen’s superb set-piece delivery.
Glen Johnson very nearly turned the game on its head from close range, only to miscue his strike from 10-yards, before the visitors regained the lead against the run of play.
Once more it was former Besiktas ace Tosun showcasing his goalscoring prowess, flinging himself at the ball from eight-yards, and planting a header into the bottom corner despite the best efforts of Butland.
Paris Saint-Germain loanee Jese was introduced in one final bid to salvage a share of the spoils, but it was fellow substitute Berahino who very nearly teed up a dramatic late leveller, only for his clever ball across the penalty box fall agonisingly out of Peter Crouch’s reach.
That proved to be the hosts’ final opportunity of claiming what in the end would have been a decent point, but the defeat means the side now have to dramatically turn their fortunes around over the final two months of the campaign if they are to secure the Club an 11th successive top-flight term.