Peter Crouch closes on Stoke City goal-scoring record with late winner

Rescue act against Southampton takes Crouch to within one goal of becoming Stoke's top Premier League scorer

Peter Crouch closes on Stoke City goal-scoring record with late winner
Peter Crouch celebrates his late winner for Stoke against Southampton (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Peter Crouch is now only one strike behind Jonathan Walters' club record of 43 Premier League goals, after he helped Stoke City to all three points against Southampton on Saturday.

The evergreen England forward has netted twice in just 101 minutes of league football this season, by far the best goals-per-minute ratio in the Stoke squad, and manager Mark Hughes has indicated another Crouch contract renewal could well be in the offing.

Speaking after Saturday’s match, Hughes said: "It wasn’t a big decision [offering Crouch a new contract], because we know what he can bring.

"If he continues in the same vein," Hughes added, "we will be having a similar discussion some time this year as well, because his physical attributes haven’t waned."

The summer departure of Walters and Marko Arnautovic – who is Stoke’s third all-time Premier League scorer with 22 goals – has kept pressure on the 36-year-old Crouch to keep producing at the sharp end. He remains the oldest player to score in the top flight in the 2017-18 season.

Embed from Getty Images

Crouch back in the picture

Crouch’s Stoke career appeared to be fading to a close two years ago, as he made only 11 league appearances in a 2015-16 season that saw fresh faces carry the team to a third-straight ninth-placed finish.

But with Stoke increasingly goal-shy last year, Crouch earned a mid-season recall and a new contract, eventually featuring 27 times in the league.

With two goals so far this campaign, Crouch is tied as Stoke’s top scorer with new signing Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, a free transfer from Bundesliga side Schalke. It was the Cameroonian’s scrambled rebound that Crouch directed goalward to secure the three points this weekend.

The ammunition in Stoke’s reshaped side is being provided by a fit-again Xherdan Shaqiri, among others, who in seven starts has already matched his 2016-17 tally of two assists.

It was Shaqiri’s corner that Mame Biram Diouf headed home to give Stoke the lead against Southampton – a welcome return to the scoresheet for the makeshift right-wing-back, only his fourth strike in the last two calendar years.

Relieving the pressure on Crouch to rescue Stoke in front of goal is still a work-in-progress. That will unlikely stop Stoke fans, however, from enjoying their talisman’s contributions for as long as they can.