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    Stoke 1 - 0 Hull

    Super sub Peter Crouch made the difference as his header just a minute after coming on the field was enough for Stoke City to beat Hull City at the Britannia stadium.

    The winning goal was shrouded in controversy with losing manager Steve Bruce adamant the flag should have been raised by the assistant for offside. 

    Replays showed that Crouch was indeed marginally offside and the goal shouldn’t have counted, but it did and the goal brought Crouch level with Alan Shearer at the top of the list of the most headed goals scored in the Premier League with 46. 

    The goal that came just after 70 minutes was also the first time the England International had scored for three consecutive games in the Premier League since 2008.

    The game won’t go down as a classic but it showed the resilience of Mark Hughes’ men to continue to attack as they struggled to break down the Hull defence. 

    Steve Bruce set his team to defend as they looked to gain a point against a club that have sold out 98% of their stadium since they got promoted to the top division in English football. 

    The home side struggled to break down the back line of the visitors as they were reduced to floated long balls into the box which were easily picked off by the defence.

    The best chance of the half fell to Stephen Ireland whose attempted volley after Hull failed to clear their lines, was scuffed and fell tamely into the hands of a grateful Alan McGregor.
    Ireland failed to appear for the second half as he was replaced by Charlie Adam who was making his first appearance for the club since October.

    In Hughes’ his post match press conference revealed that Ireland’s career could have been in jeopardy after he required between 12 and 15 stitches to his calf after a challenge from Maynor Figueroa which went unpunished by the referee. 

    Adam changed the game as he brought a more direct attacking style of play to the game as Stoke pushed for a win. 

    Just 10 minutes into the second half Adam picked the ball up just inside the opposition half and with acres of space to run into he drove forward and had an attempt from 25 yards out which just fizzed past the post. 

    The Scottish international was again causing all the problems as he was again left in space as he drove at the Hull defence who had to bring him down just outside the D to stop his weaving run. 

    The resulting free kick was taken by the former Liverpool midfielder, the effort beat the despairing dive of fellow international team mate McGregor and just whistled past the post. 
    With 20 minutes to go Hughes brought on Crouch and just a minute later the home fans were celebrating a goal. 

    With Adam now having a target to aim at in the box he picked out Crouch perfectly who climbed above Paul McShane and looped his header over the Hull keeper to ensure that the three points remained at the Britannia. 

    The win takes Stoke to 10th in the league with 39 points, the same total as West Ham who lie 9th. The win ensures they will remain in the Premier League for another season. 

    Saturday afternoon’s win was there third in five matches. With safety secured they can now turn their attention to returning European football to their fans. 

    For Hull on the other hand they slip to 15th, just four points of the relegation zone as the pressure mounts on Steve Bruce. 

    The Tigers gambled on defending and getting a point as they looked to extend their unbeaten run to three games, but inevitably when you play for a draw you end up losing. 
    Both teams won’t be dwelling on Saturday’s result as there is a quick turnaround of fixtures as there is a full fixture card in midweek.

    Hull will look to bounce back from defeat in a relegation six pointer against fellow strugglers Sunderland who sit just a point and a place below them. 

    Stoke on the other hand will be after back to back wins for the first time since January as they welcome surprise strugglers Everton. 

    The two managers were former team mates at Old Trafford but Mark Hughes’ managed to get one over Steve Bruce as Hull City’s wait for a win away to Stoke in the league looks to edge past the 10 year mark. 

    Written by Arif Ahmed
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    Item Reviewed: Stoke 1 - 0 Hull Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Arun Gray
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