Stoke 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday: The Potters’ 11-game winless run comes to an end as Steven Fletcher scores late on in Championship clash to haunt his former side
- Stoke City finally returned to winning ways in the Championship on Tuesday
- Steven Fletcher popped up with an 83rd-minute strike to win it for the Potters
- The win lifts Stoke up to eighth while Wednesday remain in bottom three
Stoke recorded their first win in 12 matches as Steven Fletcher came back to haunt his old employers Sheffield Wednesday.
It was a late and scrappy winner for the Potters but, having not won since December 19, boss Michael O’Neill did not care a jot.
‘We created good chances – it looked like we weren’t going to take one but finally we did,’ said O’Neill, whose side are just four points off the play-offs despite a hapless run. ‘It’s a relief.’
Steven Fletcher scored the only goal of the game as Stoke beat Sheffield Wednesday
The 33-year-old came back to haunt his former side with a poacher’s finish in the 83rd minute
After a non-event of a first-half in which the only action came from Barry Bannan’s inswinging corners, Stoke found some urgency and started zipping the ball about nicely, with Nick Powell particularly influential.
Powell, Fletcher and Joe Allen all came close as Stoke players took turns to squander chances.
Despite the league positions suggesting otherwise, Stoke were on a diabolical run and came up against a Wednesday side who had won six of eight league matches since sacking Tony Pulis.
STOKE CITY: (4-2-3-1) Gunn 6.5; Smith 6, Souttar 7, Batth 6, Fox 6 (Tymon 37, 6); Allen 6.5 (Obi Mikel 89), Thompson 6 (Clucas 77); Brown 7, Powell 7.5, McClean 6 (Clarke 77); Fletcher 7 (Cousins)
SUBS NOT USED: Vokes, Chester, Oakley-Boothe, Bursik
GOALS: Fletcher (83)
BOOKINGS: Clarke (90+1)
COACH: Michael O’Neill 7
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: (3-5-2) Westwood 6.5; Lees 7, Dunkley 7 (Pelupessy 65, 6), Urhoghide 7 (Windass 88); Harris 7, Shaw 6.5, Hutchinson 6, Bannan 6.5, Reach 6; Rhodes 6 (Kachunga, 6), Paterson 6.5
SUBS NOT USED: Palmer, Borner, Penney, Dele-Bashiru, Brown, Wildsmith
BOOKINGS: Hutchinson (41)
COACH: Neil Thompson 6
REFEREE: James Linington (Isle of Wight) 6
VENUE: Bet365 Stadium
Season at a glance
Fletcher wheels away to celebrate after clinching the all-important goal on Tuesday night
Maybe the grass can be greener on the other side of Pulis. It looks that way for Neil Thompson’s Owls but poor defending is the reason he still has a huge task to keep Wednesday up.
Wednesday failed to clear their lines and Fletcher pounced upon a loose ball on 83 minutes, in typical poachers’ fashion, to win the match and keep his old friends in the bottom three.
‘We’ve got to dust ourselves down, there is no time to breathe,’ said Thompson. ‘We have to get back to Sheffield and prepare for a massive game (against fellow strugglers Birmingham on Saturday).’
Fletcher slides on his knees before being joined by Stoke team-mate Jacob Brown (left)
It looked to be heading to a goalless stalemate with the two sides cancelling each other out
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