Pulis is all smiles after Stoke success: Match Review

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Danny Higginbotham and Matthew Etherington gave Stoke a 2-0 victory against Bolton at the Britannia Stadium to put the smile back on the face of manager Tony Pulis.

Before kick-off, Pulis was shaken by the news that his proposed move for Demba Ba for a reported #7.1 million had broke down after Hoffenheim's Senegal striker failed a medical.

But the manager's mood was soon changed thanks to a comfortable win, with the goals coming either side of half-time.

Even though they were bolstered by the return of midfielder Stuart Holden, Bolton were always second best as they slumped to their fifth successive defeat on the road.

Stoke spelled out their intentions as early as the eighth minute when Tuncay Sanli skipped away from Zat Knight down the right, but he failed to test goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, his cross-cum-shot going wide of the post.

Tuncay was finding plenty of space on the flanks early on. He tried to pick out Kenwyne Jones in the 13th minute but he put too much weight on the cross and the ball drifted out of play.

Then Tuncay tested Jaaskelainen from distance with a chip, but his opponent was equal to it. The home side were enjoying a good spell, with Robert Huth heading narrowly over the crossbar in the 24th minute following a Rory Delap throw-in.

Stoke almost took the lead in the 26th minute after Bolton defender Gary Cahill lost his bearings and whipped a cross from Tuncay over his own crossbar. From Etherington's corner, Huth escaped his marker, only to head wide of the post.

Bolton were struggling to get going and Holden dragged a shot wide of the post from 25 yards in the 32nd minute after striding forward.

Huth was making life difficult for Bolton by breaking into the box at every opportunity, and he got on the end of a Delap throw-in, but was again out of luck with his effort.

Stoke made the breakthrough in the 37th minute following a corner from Tuncay.

Bolton failed to clear their lines with striker Johan Elmander heading the ball across his own area. Higginbotham took advantage, marking his return to the side by forcing it home at the back post.

Elmander then headed wide of the post following a cross from Sam Ricketts in the 46th minute. And four minutes later, Holden came close to equalising - goalkeeper Asmir Begovic doing well to claw away his fine free-kick.

Back came Stoke and Tuncay got away from Knight in the 54th minute, only for his effort to go over the crossbar.

Bolton, however, were showing signings of improvement and Knight released Kevin Davies with a superb long ball, only for Huth to make a crucial block.

The visitors were rocked back on their heels in the 62nd minute when Stoke made it 2-0.

Tuncay sent Etherington racing clear and the winger was tripped by Knight in the box and won a penalty.

Etherington dusted himself down and although Jaaskelainen deflected the ball onto the post, it trickled over the line.

Etherington and Tuncay were causing Bolton all kinds of problems with their pace and movement, and the visitors were looking dispirited after that second goal from Etherington, his fourth of the season.

Tuncay then cut into the area in the 84th minute, but his finish was wayward, the ball ending up nearer the corner flag than the goal.

But it mattered little as Stoke went on to seal an emphatic win.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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