Stoke beat Birmingham to strengthen safety bid

Stoke eased their relegation worries with a comfortable 2-0 win over fellow strugglers Birmingham.

Danny Batth and Sam Clucas both scored during an impressive first half as the Potters climbed above the Blues in the Championship table.

It could have been an even more emphatic half-time lead with Sam Vokes and James McClean both hitting the woodwork and Lee Camp pulling off a fine reflex save.

Birmingham enjoyed plenty of the ball in a low-key second half, but lacked the cutting edge needed as Stoke easily saw the game out.

The win gives Stoke back-to-back home victories and secures them a four-point cushion on safety.

Scott Hogan dragged a long-range free-kick wide after three minutes for the visitors.

Vokes sent a header against the bar in the sixth minute after getting on the end of Nick Powell’s cross.

Camp palmed away a curling effort by Powell two minutes later as Stoke began to find their stride.

Stoke moved up to 17th, four points clear of the bottom three, with victory at the Bet365 Stadium
Image:
Stoke moved up to 17th, four points clear of the bottom three, with victory at the bet365 Stadium

Tyrese Campbell scuffed an effort wide from the edge of the box in the 11th minute after the ball fell into his path.

But the pressure finally paid off when Batth beat his man to bundle home from a yard out after 12 minutes for his third of the season.

Vokes had an acrobatic bicycle kick blocked by Harlee Dean after 20 minutes, before Camp pulled off a brilliant reflex save to tip a McClean shot over the bar.

McClean will have felt he should have scored though after he cut back inside to create the opening before shooting straight at the ‘keeper.

Gary Gardener had a back-post header saved by Adam Davies after 35 minutes, before McLean skimmed the top of the bar with a 25-yard piledriver a minute later.

Clucas doubled Stoke’s lead on the stroke of half-time with a beautiful curling effort into the top-right corner.

Wes Harding missed a great chance to pull a goal back in stoppage-time after he skied an effort from 10 yards out.

James Chester came inches away from turning Jude Bellingham’s cross into his own net with the final kick of the half.

The visitors enjoyed a good spell of pressure in the opening 15 minutes after the restart, but lacked penetration as Stoke sat back to protect their lead.

Jermaine Bela headed over from a Marc Roberts long throw after 64 minutes, before he had a powerful long-range effort deflected wide for a corner three minutes later.

Davies punched away under pressure two minutes later as Bela sent in another inswinging corner.

Camp saved a well hit Jordan Cousins shot after 76 minutes as Stoke caused danger from a corner of their own.

What’s next?

Both sides are back in action on Wednesday, when Stoke travel to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City at 5pm and Birmingham host Charlton at St Andrew’s at 6pm.

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