Stoke City 2-0 Peterborough United: Potters rise to fourth after victory over Posh
STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 20: Mario Vrancic (r) of Stoke City celebrates scoring a goal with Romaine Sawyers during the Sky Bet Championship match between Stoke City and Peterborough United at Bet365 Stadium on November 20, 2021 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Stoke City rose to fourth in the Championship after a well fought 2-0 win over Peterborough United despite ending the game with ten men.

Mario Vrancic’s early deflected strike followed by a late Tyrese Campbell finish was enough to seal all three points for the Potters who saw substitute Sam Surridge get sent off late on for an off the ball incident.

It was in the end a well-deserved victory for Michael O'Neill's side that saw them earn three consecutive league wins for the first time since October 2016 when they were under the tenure of Mark Hughes in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, it was a result that saw Peterborough drop into the relegation zone after Hull City's win over Birmingham City.

On reflection, it was an afternoon where they really didn't cause too much trouble to a rotated Stoke defence with Adam Davies having not much to do at all.

Story of the match

Before the visitors had time to settle the Potters struck early as Vrancic’s low deflected effort nestled into the bottom right-hand corner, David Cornell could do nothing about it.

The Posh did respond well to the opener though as Joe Ward surged forward down the right, but captain Mark Beevers’ header from the right midfielder's cross landed straight into the arms of Adam Davies.

On the seventh minute mark in what was a lively start to the encounter, poor distribution from Cornell nearly lead to a second for Stoke as his kick was charged down by Jacob Brown, but luckily for the goalkeeper, the ball rebounded the wrong side of the woodwork.

The game did calm down however as Michael O'Neill's side remained solid defensively and were happy to just keep the ball and not force anything in forward areas.

Peterborough did have a chance though to level things up 11 minutes before the break when Jorge Grant stood over a free kick in a promising position, but his whipped effort arrowed narrowly over the bar.

Only two minutes later the same player picked up the ball in a similar position with the end result being the same as his shot sailed over the top.

It was clear that Darren Ferguson's side was ending the half the stronger as four minutes before the interval Ward did well to work room down the right-hand side, but his drive was deflected wide of the near post.

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Moments later Vranic went up the other end and saw the opportunity to have a pop again with his powerful strike this time rising too high.

After the break, it was the home side that restarted the better and really should have doubled their tally in the 49th minute.

This was when Jacob Brown was threaded in behind, he managed to round the onrushing Cornell, but his strike was too tame as Nathan Thompson recovered in time to clear.

Six minutes later Cornell made a superb double save to keep Stoke at bay, firstly off James Chester whose flicked header was beaten away by the 30-year-old.

The follow up then fell to Steven Flecther who from point-blank range failed to bundle the ball home as Cornell scrambled it away.

On the 57th minute mark, the Posh were sure they equalised when Jack Taylor's thunderous shot from distance cannoned off the bar but into the path of Sammie Szmodics, who with his head guided the ball home.

However, the away side's celebrations were cut short by the offside flag that went up against Szmodics.

Despite trying to put on the pressure, Peterborough really struggled to create much in terms of goalmouth action with a sliced half volley at the back post by Harrison Burrows with a minute to go being the best they had to offer.

This was before in stoppage time substitute Sam Surridge was sent his marching orders after appearing to lash out at Josh Knight off the ball.

This didn't seem to make a difference though as in the sixth minute of stoppage time on the counter-attack Campbell went on a solo run and when wriggling into the box he smashed the ball home, earning his first goal since his return from injury as well as the completion of the win.

Rotated Potters defence did the job

It came bad news during the international break that impressive centre back Harry Souttar would be out for the rest of the season after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament problem while on international duty with Australia.

The 23-year-old had been an integral part of the so-far successful season Stoke are experiencing as he started every league game aside from the opening day of the campaign and was seen as a trusted member of the squad considering that he was named as captain in four of these encounters.

Consequently, it comes as no surprise that he will be a big miss for the remainder of the season meaning that despite starting the previous two, Danny Batth was required to come in for only his fifth league game of the season alongside Leo Skiri Ostigard and Chester.

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Despite it being a slightly rotated and different defence, all three of them coped with the threat the visitors had and they all communicated really well and seemed to be in the right positions.

Then when it was asked to put their bodies on the line and be brave, they ensured that they did it every time with Davies in goal not really being asked questions through the whole 90 minutes.

This has to be put down to the solid defensive display that the Potters had and it will certainly be a sign of encouragement for O’Neill while Souttar remains unavailable.

Star Man- Mario Vrancic

The former Norwich City man made his first start in here league games in the place of the injured Jordan Thompson and he sure did not fail to impress.

Of course, he got the early goal that set the hosts on their way but not only that the 32-year-old always looked lively on the ball and was always looking forward for the advancing runs of Brown- even if they didn’t come off every time.

Then even off the ball he always seemed to be on the move to show for the ball and was always trying to find room so he could have time to create problems for the Posh defence which is evidently what he did do.

The midfielder has featured in all but two games in the league for O’Neill’s outfit so far this season and while Nick Powell remains absent, the former Northern Ireland manager knows that he will be key to his side creating consistent openings as the campaign does go on- increasing the importance that he stays fit.