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Report: Blues 2 Stoke City 0

Maghoma’s fizzing 25-yarder with two minutes to go before the break set Garry Monk’s men on their way. And shortly before the end, Bogle climbed off the bench and made sure of the points with another bolt from the blue.

BCFC

Two cracking long-range strikes from Jacques Maghoma and Omar Bogle sealed a knockout Boxing Day win over Stoke City at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium.

Maghoma’s fizzing 25-yarder with two minutes to go before the break set Garry Monk’s men on their way. And shortly before the end, Bogle climbed off the bench and made sure of the points with another bolt from the blue.      

It was a fully deserved home victory in this battle of wits between Monk and one of his predecessors at the Blues helm, Gary Rowett, whose team went into this fixture unbeaten in 10 games and having not lost on the road since mid-September.

Another ex-St. Andrew’s employee, Jack Butland, was kept very busy in the Stoke goal, pulling of several good saves. But the Blues Academy graduate could do little about the two shots that flew past him into the net.     

Jota, recalled to the starting line-up for the first time in over six weeks after injury, almost marked his return with a goal inside the opening 30 seconds. The Spaniard put pressure on the Stoke backline on the right side of the penalty area and, after Sam Clucas dallied on the ball, Jota snatched possession and steered in a shot which flew narrowly wide of the far post.

The visitors were visibly shaken by Blues’ front-foot start and another error, this time by Tom Ince, presented Che Adams with a glimpse of goal 15 yards out, but the Stoke midfielder redeemed himself by getting back to put in a block.

Lee Camp’s first notable contribution was to make a relatively simple stop down to his right from James McClean’s first-time effort. At the other end, a Jota corner was met perfectly by Lukas Jutkiewicz but the striker’s header from 12 yards was beaten away by Butland.

Butland came to the Potters’ rescue again on 27 minutes when a free-kick, won by Jutkiewicz after he was cynically body-checked by Ryan Shawcross, was whipped in dangerously by Jota and met by the head of Harlee Dean. The centre-half’s flick was arrowing towards the goal until the outstretched fingers of Butland diverted it over.

Shawcross, who was booked for his earlier misdemeanour, almost created a chance from nothing for his team, a long ball from the back giving Clucas a sight of the target, But with Camp a few yards off his line, the midfielder only able to poke his shot wide.

With the action swinging from one side to the other, Adams was next to try his luck after he gathered the ball midway into the Stoke half and advanced towards the edge of the box before firing a low shot that went just wide of Butland’s right-hand post.

A few moments later, it was Camp’s time to shine by parrying away a low hard shot by Saido Berahino after the former West Brom man got in behind Michael Morrison. The danger wasn’t over though as the ball dropped for McClean, who missed his shot completely, and then Clucas drove an effort wide after he was quickly closed down by two Blues defenders.

With two minutes to go before the break, it was Blues that broke the deadline – and what a strike! The hassling and harrying of Jutkiewicz and Adams again created the opening, the ball rolling kindly to Maghoma. The winger still had plenty to do, but from 25 yards he dropped his shoulder, cut inside and crashed an unstoppable shot into the top right corner.

Blues had the advantage at the break – and it was fully warranted.

Adams’ pace caused more problems for the Stoke defence early in the second period when he looked to latch onto Maikel Kieftenbeld’s fantastically directed long ball down the line. The striker was breathing down the neck of Cuco Martina and looked to have got the better of him before being sent tumbling to the ground. The visitors’ left-back was perhaps lucky to get away with just a yellow card.  

Five minutes later and Butland was called into action to turn aside Jota’s low near-post shot.

Rowett’s response just before the hour mark was to make a double change, throwing two more forwards into the fray, Benik Afobe and Peter Crouch. The Blues defence came under extreme pressure in the proceeding few minutes, but a combination of last-ditch defending and a touch of luck ensured their goal wasn’t breached.

On 65 minutes, Maghoma brought another save out of Butland, the England international parrying away his curling shot. And the winger had the Stoke defence backtracking again moments later, this time his wing trickery brought an opening for Adams but the forward’s shot from inside the area was well blocked by Ashley Williams.

Blues’ top scorer ran himself into the ground for the cause and was replaced with eight minutes to play by Omar Bogle. And the on-loan striker picked a great moment to open his goal account for the club.

Bogle picked up a long ball from the back from goalkeeper Camp wide on the Blues right, took a couple of touches to take him inside, and unleashed an unbelievable effort that rocketed into the top far corner.

All 11 players, including Camp, joined in the striker’s understandably exuberant celebrations of a goal that sealed the win and took Blues up to seventh in the Sky Bet Championship table to within two points of the play-offs.       

Blues (4-4-2): Camp; Harding, Morrison, Dean, Colin; Jota, Kieftenbeld, G Gardner (G Gardner 89), Maghoma; Jutkiewicz, Adams (Bogle 82).
Subs (not used): Dacres-Cogley, Scarr, Mahoney, Lakin, Trueman.

Goals: Maghoma (43), Bogle (87).
Bookings: G Gardner (5), Dean (63).

Stoke (4-3-3): Butland; Martina (Edwards 77), Shawcross, Williams, Martins Indi; Allen, Woods (Afobe 59), Clucas; Ince, Berahino (Crouch 59), McClean.
Subs (not used): Fletcher, Etobo, Campbell, Federici.

Bookings: Shawcross (26), Martina (52), Martins Indi (74), Allen (76).

Attendance: 26,344 (2,679 away)

Referee: Darren Bond

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