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Back to winning ways!

Posted on 9 April 2011  - 12:00

Peter Crouch’s double strike helped us to a first Premier League win in five games with a 3-2 victory over Stoke at the Lane.

Back to winning ways!

Peter Crouch’s double strike helped us to a first Premier League win in five games with a 3-2 victory over Stoke at the Lane.

The big man went a long way to making up for his sending off at the Bernabeu on Tuesday during our 4-0 Champions League defeat at the hands of Real Madrid.

But he was back to doing what he does best on a glorious day in North London, with headers either side of a superb Luka Modric effort.

All five goals came in the first half with Matthew Etherington and Kenwyne Jones both scoring against the run of play for the visitors.

The win keeps up our challenge for a top four finish, and we now find ourselves back to within three points of fourth-placed Manchester City, who travel to Liverpool on Monday, with a game in hand.

The game saw Tom Huddlestone and Younes Kaboul both back in the starting lineup after their returns from injuries.

It was Huddlestone’s first game since our draw with Sunderland on November 9, while Kaboul had not featured since our win over Newcastle on December 28, in which he was sent off.

Sandro and William Gallas were the men to drop out of the side beaten in Madrid and onto the bench, along with Jermaine Jenas who was replaced by Roman Pavlyuchenko.

It meant a return to a 4-4-2 formation with the Russian joining Crouch up front and Rafael van der Vaart operating off the right hand side. Aaron Lennon’s illness ruled him out again.

We started well with Gareth Bale testing Asmir Begovic from the edge of the box after five minutes before some great defending from Robert Huth denied Pavlyuchenko at the near post three minutes later after more good work from Bale.

But the pressure soon told and we took the lead after 10 minutes. Van der Vaart played a short corner to Pavlyuchenko who crossed to the far post and found an unmarked Crouch able to nod home and redeem himself somewhat following his midweek misdemeanour.

Stoke, meanwhile, had barely got going and found themselves two down eight minutes later when Modric played a give and go with Pavlyuchenko before carrying on into the box and sliding under Begovic for his third goal of the season.

At that point we looked more than comfortable and it seemed only a matter of time before a third would follow. But when it did, it fell to the visitors.

Totally against the run of play on 27 minutes, former Spur Etherington broke down the left, leaving Vedran Corluka and Huddlestone in his wake before beating Heurelho Gomes at his near post to score with Stoke’s first real attack.

But our response was excellent and our two-goal cushion was restored less than 10 minutes later with Crouch’s second of the afternoon and his 11th of the campaign overall.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s excellent cross-field ball was controlled by Corluka and he set up Huddlestone to pick out the big man at the back post for a header into the far corner.

However, the visitors were to have the final say of the half after once again hitting back against the run of play three minutes from the break.

After keeping possession for a number of minutes, Bale was robbed by Andy Wilkinson in midfield and Jones ran on to crash an unstoppable effort into the roof of Gomes’ net.

And Stoke so nearly drew level 10 minutes into the second half when Jones got the better of Assou-Ekotto to reach the by-line, Gomes got a hand on his cross and this was vital in stopping Jonathan Walters tapping into an empty net, the ball instead hitting him and striking the post.

But we soon regained the initiative with Pavlyuchenko putting just wide with a diving header after a strong run and cross from Bale moments later.

We also had a goal disallowed on 66 minutes when Huddlestone threw himself at Van der Vaart’s corner but bundled Begovic over in the process.

Pavlyuchenko tested their goalkeeper with a stinging 25 yard effort, while at the other end Jones headed wide a Jermaine Pennant cross and the same man fired at Gomes after Walters had failed to control Marc Wilson’s low cross in front of goal.

Gomes was also forced into his first big save of the match four minutes from time when Jones unleashed a 20 yard effort, but we held on for a hard-earned victory.

Spurs (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto (Gallas, 90); Van der Vaart, Huddlestone, Modric, Bale; Crouch, Pavlyuchenko
Subs not used: Cudicini, Bassong, Jenas, Rose, Sandro, Defoe

Goals: Crouch (11, 35), Modric (19)

Stoke (4-4-2): Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Pennant (Fuller, 76), Delap (Diao, 76), Whelan (Whitehead, 76), Etherington; Jones, Walters
Subs not used: Sorensen, Collins, Faye, Pugh

Goals: Etherington (28), Jones (42)

Referee: Kevin Friend

Attendance: 32, 702