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Beattie takes Stoke out of the relegation zone

James Beattie lifted 10-man Stoke out of the relegation zone as his first-half header clinched a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Saturday.

Tony Pulis’s side looked up against it when Rory Delap was sent off following a clash with Shaun Wright-Phillips at the Britannia Stadium.

But Beattie struck soon after Delap’s departure to end Stoke’s miserable run of 11 games without a win stretching back to November and provide a timely boost in their battle for Premier League survival.

It was a familiar story for City, who once again failed to turn their possession into goals and remain without an away win since August.

The vistors were on top for long periods and Robinho, who scored a hat-trick against Stoke earlier this season, was quickly into his stride with a delicate angled chip that almost deceived Thomas Sorensen.

Mark Hughes’ team should have taken the lead when Stephen Ireland, unmarked in yards of space, volleyed wide from the edge of the box.

A flowing move from the visitors cut through Stoke’s defence with ease midway through the half, but Robinho belied his status as City’s leading scorer with a woeful scuffed shot that trickled straight to Sorensen.

Stoke worked hard to get the visitors onto the back foot and a long throw from allowed Ryan Shawcross to get in a header that just cleared the bar.

Another trademark rocket throw from Delap brought Joe Hart into action as he rose to pluck a Shawcross back-flick from under the bar.

The match seemed to have swung in City’s favour in the 38th minute when referee Martin Atkinson sent off Delap following an ugly clash.

Wright-Phillips started the melee when he lunged in on Etherington. As Wright-Phillips moved away with the ball, Delap chased him and tripped the winger from behind, compounding the offence by appearing to kick the ball at the England winger.

Furious City players rushed to remonstrate with Delap, while Wright-Phillips appeared to kick out at Delap. Atkinson finally brought an end to the chaos by dismissing Delap, but Stoke made light of their numerical disadvantage to snatch the lead in first half stoppage time.

Matty Etherington looped a cross over from the left wing and Beattie was able to pull clear of Wayne Bridge and bury a header past Hart.

It was the first time Stoke had scored at home since late November and they were determined not to surrender the advantage.

Hughes sent on Brazilian midfielder Elano early in the second half but Stoke managed to frustrate the visitors with some resolute defending.

With Robinho an increasingly subdued figure, Craig Bellamy tried to lift City but his shot on the turn drifted wide.

City appealed for a penalty when Micah Richards fell under Andy Griffin’s challenge but Atkinson said no and Stoke survived.

Sat 31 January, 2009
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