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Bale double secures win

Two first half goals from Gareth Bale saw us clinch a 2-1 victory at the Britannia Stadium for the second season in succession.

Two first half goals from Gareth Bale saw us clinch a 2-1 victory at the Britannia Stadium for the second season in succession.

Bale's second goal will long live in the memory, with his first a little fortunate, but what will be equally satisfying for Harry Redknapp is the way the the team dug in and weathered the inevitable onslaught in the final 20 minutes.

A goal that was not awarded to the home side in the second half will no doubt be the focus of some attention and intensify the call for technology, but whether or not it should have got to that point without the whistle being blown will perhaps also be looked at when slow motions and different angles are examined.

Bale was the focus of the early attacking impetus, being sent scurrying away twice by Tom Huddlestone and on each occasion being unlucky with his final ball.

Stoke began to claim some territory with their familiar robust appraoch and Heurelho Gomes was in position to deal with a powerful shot from Jonathan Walters before, on 19 minutes, the scoring began.

Aaron Lennon dribbled crossfield from left to right and chipped into the path of Bale, who saw his shot saved by Thomas Sorensen in the Stoke goal. The ball looped up and Peter Crouch nodded goalwards to where Ryan Shawcross was in place to block, but the central defender headed his clearance into Bale and the ball ended up in the net!

Unfortunately, the lead only lasted six minutes as a Matthew Etherington corner was not dealt with and struck the shins of Younes Kaboul, resulting in Ricardo Fuller shooting home from close range.

A contender for Goal of the Season followed just before the half hour mark. The lively Lennon again ran with the ball before arrowing a clever cross in the direction of Bale, who arched himself and dispatched a stunning left-foot volley into the top corner of the net. Two goals on a ground where the season before last he suffered a miserable afternoon with a first half red card.

Fuller spun Kaboul and Gomes had to be sharp and alert to deny the big striker, otherwise the momentum was with the team in blue and if the final ball had been a bit sharper the lead would have been increased going into the break.

In stoppage time Sorsensen saved his side after Jermaine Jenas was the supply line for a Bale cross, the leg of the Danish keeper preventing Jenas from capitalising on the centre after a slick move.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Bale combined to nearly create a further opening at the beginning of the second half as the fluent football continued.

Stoke were always going to be combative but there were no major alarms as the clock ticked towards the hour mark and the long ball from back to front became more frequent.

Rory Delap was playing his party piece with his team committing numbers forward, leaving them a little exposed on the break.

The substitute Tuncay looked like he had levelled on 67 minutes, his shot looping up off of Kaboul and sailing in until a retreating Gomes managed to tip over. The same player then headed just wide.

The home side cranked up the pressure and Gomes was brave in his work as the last line of defence. Jenas produced a moment of real quality in sending Bale clear but his chip could not clear Sorensen, while at the other end a Fuller shot was saved by Gomes when a goal appeared the likely outcome.

Kyle Walker took over from Lennon in the 87th minute to provide a little more solidity on the right, but it should be noted that Lennon put in a tenacious and creative shift for the team.

Stoke thought they had the ball over the line in stoppage time following a corner and probably had a point, but there were two fouls in the build up to it. Ryan Shawcross saw his header touchonto the crossbar by Gomes and Walters headed the rebound towards goal, where Crouch blocked. Referee Mr Foy looked over to his assistant and neither were able to make an award.

This appeared to deflate Stoke, the rest of six minutes of stoppage time passed without incident and a first away win of the season and three points were deposited into our account.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen, Huth, Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Collins; Delap (Sidibe 85, Tongue, 88)), Whitehead, Whelan (Sanli 63), Etherington; Walters, Fuller. Unused: Begovic, Higginbotham, Pugh, Wilkinson.

Spurs (4-5-1): Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Walker, 87), Jenas, Palacios, Huddlestone, Bale; Crouch. Unused subs: Alnwick, Naughton, Bassong, Kranjcar, Livermore, Rose.

Goals: Stoke - Fuller, 25. Spurs - Bale, 19, 30.

Attendance: 27,243.

Referee: Mr C Foy.