Shawcross strikes late to sink Boro

BY foxsports • March 21, 2009

Ryan Shawcross' 84th-minute header earned Stoke a 1-0 victory at home to Middlesbrough and provided a huge boost to their relegation battle. The defender escaped his marker to deflect Rory Delap's long throw into the far corner of the net. Stoke had carved out the best of few chances created and the result increases the pressure on next-bottom Boro, who have now failed to score in seven of their last nine league matches and have not won away from home since November 9. Conversely the hosts have taken 28 points at the Britannia Stadium from their season's tally of 32 and their remaining four games at home will probably decide their fate. The game began as it had ended with a Stoke throw inside Boro's half. However, in the third minute Delap rejected the chance to launch one of his infamous missiles into the penalty area and it almost cost the hosts. His short throw to Abdoulaye Faye saw the centre-back give the ball away and only a poor touch by Marlon King prevented the striker releasing Tuncay through the vacant middle. Stoke boss Tony Pulis immediately leapt out of his dug-out to leave Delap under no illusions exactly where he should put the next throw. He followed instructions four minutes later and James Beattie forced a reaction one-handed save from Brad Jones after Salif Diao, on his 100th start in English football, headed the ball goalwards. The action was end-to-end with Tony McMahon, who lined up at right wing-back with Middlesbrough employing Emanuel Pogatetz as a third central defender, heading straight at Sorensen in the 14th minute from opposite wing-back Andrew Taylor's cross. Pogatetz was booked four minutes later for a challenge from behind on Ricardo Fuller, with Beattie blasting the 35-yard free-kick wide. In the 30th minute Fuller, whose nuisance factor had managed to annoy all of Middlesbrough's back three by this point, was booked for catching Robert Huth in the face with his arm. Tuncay almost snatched the lead two minutes later when he cut in from the left and unleashed a fierce shot which dipped on to the top of the net. As the game became increasingly scrappy Glenn Whelan was booked for a foul on Shawky and Diao was cautioned for going in late on Stewart Downing. Both sides made positive substitutions early in the second half - Matthew Etherington coming on for Diao and Afonso Alves for Marlon King. Middlesbrough's Brazilian was involved in the build-up, along with Downing and Tuncay, which saw O'Neil's 20-yard shot tipped around the post by Sorensen in the 58th minute. O'Neil's low free-kick then somehow found its way to Tuncay at the far post but faced with a narrow angle he drilled into the side-netting. Delap's throw-ins continued to cause a problem to Middlesbrough and from one Fuller headed on for Beattie to volley over the angle of post and crossbar. In the 72nd minute Beattie headed over the best chance he had seen all afternoon when Lawrence weaved his way into the penalty area and cssed to the far post. But the breakthrough finally came six minutes from time from a familiar source. Delap hurled a right-wing throw into the penalty area and Ryan Shawcross escaped his marker to deflect the ball into the far corner of the net.

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