Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Sunday January 1 2012
Latics went into the game against Stoke buoyed by the news that Conor Sammon was available after his red card received against Manchester United had been rescinded, but a surprise recall for Hugo Rodallega to the starting eleven meant that Sammon took his place on the bench and the first change to the team in five games.
The game started in typical fashion at the Britannia Stadium, the home side launching the ball into the opponents box at every opportunity, whether it be from throw-ins, free-kicks or just big punts up field, what great football Pulis` side play.
Latics, after an early scare when Pennants effort was saved by Al-Habsi, settled into the game well and took the sting out of Stoke`s longball tactics, Crouch and Walters hardly getting a sniff and it was Martinez`s men that started to press and look the most likeliest to open the scoring.
Hugo Rodallega had an excellent chance of grabbing the lead for the Latics, a superb Alcaraz ball sent the Colombian racing clear, with just the keeper to beat Hugo tried to lob him from 25 yards, but Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross managed to get back and clear for a corner.
The opening goal of the game came right on half-time, playing the ball out of defence James McCarthy knocked to Antolin Alcaraz, the Paraguayan international slid the ball wide right to Ronnie Stam, after a little run Stam played a lovely ball to Hugo Rodallega down the right, Hugo was away and hit a fantastic ball into the Stoke area, the on rushing Victor Moses hit a left footed strike into the back of the net from 8 yards, 0-1.
In the second half Latics were coping well with Stoke`s attempted pressure, but the last 15 minutes of the game saw three goals as the match exploded into life.
On 75 minutes Stoke substitute Cameron Jerome sent a header into the box, Gary Caldwell trying to get his body in the way handled with arms outstretched, penalty and a red card for the Latics skipper, Walters mad no mistake from the spot, 1-1.
Down to 10 men Latics reshuffled their formation and went four at the back bringing on Steve Gohouri for the unfortunate Jordi Gomez, but with just six minutes left it looked like Stoke had won the game, a Crouch flick sent Jerome clear, the former Birmingham player shot across Al-Habsi into the far corner of the net, 2-1.
The drama wasn`t quite over though, two minutes later Rodallega was hauled to the floor by Stoke defender Ryan Shotton in the box, referee Michael Oliver had no hesitation and pointed to the spot.
Latics immediately made a substitution and brought on penalty king Ben Watson for Dave Jones. Up stepped Watson and with his first touch of the ball sent Sorensen the wrong way to level the scores, 2-2.
A good point away from home, Stoke play some awful football, but they are dangerous and cause problems, the Latics dealt fairly well and restricted the home side to just three attempts on target.
Date:Sunday January 1 2012
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