MATCH REPORT: Stoke City 1, Everton 1
Stoke City 1, Everton 1
KENWYNE Jones scored his first Premier League goal for 16 months to ensure justice was done for Stoke here at the Britannia this afternoon.
Jones struck with a second-half header – the 1,000th goal against Everton in the Premier League – as a feisty little affair ended all square and deservedly so on chances.
Stoke, now unbeaten in 15 league games at HQ, actually scored at both ends after skipper Ryan Shawcross glanced a left-wing cross into his own net in the first period.
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But City were a far more dangerous proposition in a second half that should have seen a red card for Marouane Fellaini for an off-the-ball head butt on Shawcross that will surely be punished retrospectively.
Stoke, with Andy Wilkinson returning at full back and Charlie Adam reinstated to his attacking midfield role, played their part in a highly competitive first quarter to the contest that served as an appetiser for events later in the afternoon.
But it was Everton carving out the best opening by far when Tim Coleman pulled the ball back from the right for Nikica Jelavic to side-foot against Shawcross as the goal begged to be hit.
The industrious Matthew Etherington deserved the opening to fall his way, but his low shot from 20 yards was pulled well wide.
And then Jones scooped a mile over under pressure after being released by Wilkinson's fine intervention.
Stoke's best chance thus far came just after the half-hour mark when a deep left-wing corner was nodded back into the mix by Jon Walters, but Steven Nzonzi couldn't generate enough power or better direction on a free header straight at Howard from barely six yards out.
City then enjoyed a great escape in front of their own goal when Jelavic totally mis-kicked and missed a dropping ball from a suspiciously offside position.
The danger wasn't gone, however, and when Steven Naismith nipped in to clip the loose ball over Asmir Begovic it was Shawcross back-tracking to superbly hook the goalbound effort onto the roof of his net.
But Shawcross was left head in hands five minutes later when he put Everton ahead with a distinctly unfortunate own goal.
Steven Pienaar's cross from the left had SHAWCROSS stretching to head clear, but he couldn't quite rise high enough and the ball brushed the top of his head and looped over the diving Begovic to drop inside the far post.
And it should have been 2-0 shortly afterwards when Leighton Baines streaked down the left and pulled the ball back for Leon Osman to stroke wide of the near post as a second Everton goal seemed certain.
Half-time: Stoke 0, Everton 1.
Stoke would have been level within two minutes of the restart if Adam could have connected with a ball dropping in front of Howard, but he missed out and the American was able to scramble clear on his 200th successive Premier League appearance.
The irrepressible Wilkinson then came charging into the Everton area from the right and saw a firm cross-cum-shot grabbed high at his near post by Howard.
Stoke were level shortly after in distinctly curious circumstances, however, when a long Shawcross free-kick was floated into the box for JONES to head on and into the net.
But why Howard made such a mess of trying to grab the header remains a mystery as the ball sneaked inside his right-hand post with the keeper floundering horribly after appearing to lose his bearings completely.
Jones then came perilously close to a second a couple of minutes later after Glenn Whelan's cute angled pass.
The big striker clipped the ball against the advancing Howard and then kneed the rebound against the outside of the post as he tried to net from the tightest of angles.
The game was really bubbling up and when Shawcross collapsed to the floor from an Everton corner, TV replays subsequently showed he had been butted in the face by Marouane Fellaini.
The atmosphere remained feisty out on the pitch and Begovic was booked for dissent after complaining he had been struck at a corner.
Cameron Jerome replaced Adam and was soon hitting one shot against a defender and the rebound wide of Howard's right-hand post from the edge of the box.
The game was there to be won for either side and it should have been Stoke on 79 when poor defending left Jerome firing against the keeper's legs – and fellow sub Peter Crouch just failing to lob the back-tracking Sylvain Distin with the rebound.
A draw was a fair result, but it was very nearly an Everton victory in stoppage time when Whelan was caught in possession to leave Pienaar advancing goalwards before scuffing his shot wide.
Stoke: Begovic, Wilkinson, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Walters, Whelan, Nzonzi, Adam (Jerome,73), Etherington (Kightly,85), Jones (Crouch,77). Subs: Sorensen, Palacios, Whitehead, Upson.
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Naismith (Barkley,70), Osman, Gibson, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic. Subs: Mucha, Heitinga, Oviedo, Hitzlsperger, Vellios, Duffy.
Referee: M Halsey (Lancs).
Cards: Stoke – Begovic (dissent,71). Everton - none.