MATCH REPORT: Stoke 2, Swansea 0
MARTIN SPINKS REPORTS FROM THE BRITANNIA, SATURDAY
Stoke City 2, Swansea City 0.
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STOKE City tasted victory for the first time in 175 days thanks to a Peter Crouch double here at the Britannia this afternoon.
The one-time England striker struck twice in the opening period to punish a disappointing Swansea for some shoddy defending.
Stoke kept the visitors at arm's length throughout and the only quibble with their performance was their failure to add to their lead during a profitable spell in the final quarter of the afternoon.
Crouch struck the woodwork going for his hat-trick as the home side powerfully swatted away the best Swansea could throw at them.
Stoke were under pressure to produce today after four draws and a defeat so far this term, but there was little doubt about the final outcome from the moment their leading striker got to work.
There were cries of "Crouchy for England" after just 11 minutes – and with good reason after Stokies saw their man head the home side into an early lead.
Stoke had produced all the early pressure as a Charlie Adam cross was headed behind for a corner, while Michel Vorm's parry from a Jon Walters piledriver could have dropped anywhere.
There was to be no reprieve from Glenn Whelan's left-wing corner, however, as Robert Huth distracted the visiting defence with a run and jump to leave CROUCH unhindered as he buried a clinical header from eight yards out.
Michael Kightly was then involved at both ends as Swansea caught their first sniff of goal.
First, it was his misplaced back pass that forced Ryan Shawcross to admire Danny Graham's shirt on the edge of the area before the Swansea striker shot poorly under pressure amid claims he was tugged.
And then it was Kightly featuring at the other end as he centred into a melee after goalkeeper Michel Vorm had powered through Adam en route to half-clearing Stok's initial ball into the box.
Adam was having a mixed afternoon, meanwhile, getting caught in possession inside his own area one minute, twice shooting weakly at the visiting goal the next.
Chances continued to fall periodically as Michu followed in to curl a first-time effort narrowly wide of Asmir Begovic's left-hand post with the Stoke keeper helpless.
Stoke were spreading the play nicely, if not always productively, until some patient approach play saw an Adam back-heel play in Geoff Cameron for a shot blocked before it could trouble Vorm at his near post.
Swansea were back under the cosh soon after, however, as a ball from the Stoke right was headed down by Crouch and the visitors panicked under pressure from Jon Walters.
The ball broke for a Crouch shot to be half-stopped by Vorm, but CROUCH's momentum carried him forward to stroke home the rebound for his second of a bounteous first half.
Half-time: Stoke 2, Swansea 0.
Ki Sung-Yueng's powerful effort was deflected just over Begovic's bar to dish out an early reminder that the points were far from Stoke's just yet.
The action areas were more even than in the first period as Stoke struggled to recapture their earlier momentum, though Adam was unlucky not to pick out Kightly with a peach of a crossfield ball on the break.
The game almost burst back into life when a Swansea corner wended its way to Danny Graham at the far stick, but his close control was followed by a scooped effort well over the bar as red and white shirts quickly converged.
Fine play by Adam on the left then allowed the Scotsman to drill low and hard, but Kightly couldn't control his attempt at goal under pressure.
Stoke might have killed the game once and for all, but Steven Nzonzi left the ball for Kightly to shoot instead of having a pop himself and the chance went begging, while Matthew Etherington's dinked cross soon after eluded everyone.
Etherington was back on the attack to fling over another inviting cross which Crouch headed against the top of the bar as his hat-trick beckoned.
Crouch was so intent on that treble that he launched into an extravagant scissor-kick that didn't quite come off just before his substitution.
Walters then crashed a shot into a defender rather than passing to Kenwyne Jones as Stoke strolled towards their three points.
GOAL ATTEMPTS: Stoke 13 (6 on target), Swansea 7 (1 on target).
Cards: Stoke – Walters (foul,57). Swansea – Davies (diving,54).