Stoke City 3 Charlton 1

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Man of match Tom Ince’s second goal of the season, a minute into the second half, provided the springboard for the Potters as they secured three valuable points in this relegation six pointer at a blustery Bet 365 stadium.

In front of a crowd of 23,508,  Ince beat the offside trap to get on the end of sublime Joe Allen through ball before sliding it under the advancing Dillon Phillips in the Addick’s goal.

Stoke took the lead in the 28th minute when James McClean fired home from close range after Nick Powell nodded down a Sam Clucas free kick in a crowded box. This was no more than the home side deserved after dominating possession against lacklustre opposition who have been struggling for form recently.

Remarkably the visitors levelled against the run of play just before the break when Tommy Smith scored an own goal under pressure from Charlton’s Ben Purrington after a good cross from Andre Green.

Whatever Michael O’ Neill said in the second half had the desired effect and the Potters took command. Nick Powell sealed the three points in the 63rd minute when he beat his marker Tom Lockyer at the near post to fire in a Tommy Smith cross from the right.

Charlton’s only chance came shortly afterwards when Kyle Taylor’s tame shot from a Jason Pearce knock down landed straight into Butland’s midriff in the Stoke goal.

Happy Stoke boss Michael O’Neill said; “It was difficult conditions but I thought the performance was excellent. I thought, in the first-half,  playing into the breeze, we were very good, I thought we had good control on the game and showed a lot of good quality in possession and were deservedly in front.

“We lost the goal totally against the run of play. It was a poor goal for us to lose from a game management perspective. The reaction of the players was excellent. It was a case of pointing that out to them at half time.

“We got out at the start of the second half in the same fashion to get an early goal and we scored another goal and I though we had a lot of good chances as well. A lot of positive things from today’s performance.”

Charlton boss Lee Bowyer was asked to assess his team’s performance after the game.

He blasted: “Not good enough. Stoke was better than us all over the pitch. They looked hungrier than our players and they outfought us. That doesn’t happen to us very often so I’m disappointed

“Our squad have to be at it, 100%, every single game, because if we don’t, we lose. Our squad is not as strong as a lot of the other squads in this league. It’s obvious to see. We have to be at it, to do the right thing and the basics right”.

New Charlton loan signing Aiden McGeady missed the game due to illness. When asked what he hoped McGeady would add to his team, Bowyer said; “Goals and assists”.

Stoke move ahead of Charlton in the table in 20th place and five points above the relegation places. They play high flying Preston at home on the 12th of February.

They will hope to continue their good run of home form since O’ Neill’s arrival in November. Only Blackburn have taken three points away from Stoke since the Northern Irishman’s arrival.

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