Adams slammed in a Lukas Jutkiewicz cross as Blues opened Stoke up in devastating fashion.BCFC
Adams slammed in a Lukas Jutkiewicz cross on the slide as Blues opened Stoke up in devastating fashion.
It sparked a furious Stoke onslaught, and fury, as there were huge appeals for a penalty after twice shots were blocked in front of goal during tremendous scrambles.
Gary Rowett was sent-off for protesting as Blues kept their resolve to come away from the Potteries with the spoils.
It was a typically organised, gritty and clinical performance from Blues, who struck the crossbar through Maxime Colin at 0-0.
And they had to show their mettle during that frenzied last few minutes when Stoke threw everything at them.
Blues put their bodies on the line and, according to Stoke, in front of the ball illegally using hands on a couple of occasions as the home players desperately tried to force an equaliser in.
But it was not to be for Stoke and Blues, who again looked the more potent and durable side going into the last quarter of a tussle, made it nine games unbeaten now.
It was a steady, measured start to the game from Blues, who allowed Stoke’s back four to have the ball and kept a sure shape initially, looking to force mistakes in other areas.
The opening effort on goal came from a Blues free-kick in the 15th minute, when Michael Morrison headed over Jota’s deliver, the ball just drifting behind his jump to make the contact more difficult.
In the 21st minute, the first time when Stoke found some uncontested space, Cuco Martina whipped in a vicious cross from the right and Kristian Pedersen, at the near post, swiped at the ball and slice-shinned it onto the top of Lee Camp’s net.
Camp was called into urgent action six minutes later after Joe Allen trickery caused Blues some tense moments deep inside the box. Allen was ushered out of harm’s way as he tried to shoot but the ball popped back to Bojan 22 yards out who cracked a fierce drive that Camp beat behind with a strong hand superbly.
As the half went on Stoke slowly but surely began to elicit a fair bit of control possession-wise. But Blues being Blues, they didn’t give off the air of a unit about to be pulled apart to a detrimental effect.
Gary Gardner and Maikel Kieftenbeld did a disciplined, shrewd job to help the back four remain resolute as Stoke’s midfield rotations were testing.
And the rearguard were watchful, sniffing out any danger early. The net result was to nullify what Stoke threw at them and reduce what normally makes the opposition tick – the trademark Blues have shown all season.
If anything on the flip side, Blues were at times untidy in possession and needed to keep the ball better to carry a bigger threat themselves.
A minute before the interval there was a decent chance for Blues to counter, from deep, when Jota sprinted with the ball down the middle. He played it out to the right where Adams had pulled away. Adams first touch took him a little too wide and in the end his low shot was easy fare for Jack Butland.
Half-time: Stoke City 0 Blues 0
Blues maintained their wits about them as Stoke probed for an opening but the first shot in anger at goal in the second period came from the visitors, just before the hour.
Connor Mahoney, on his starting debut (in for Jacques Maghoma), cut inside from the left and fired at Butland’s near post, forcing the ‘keeper to push the ball to the side.
Adams collected the rebound and from a tight angle tried to beat Butland with power, but the former Blues Academy product was behind the path of the attempt.
Stoke responded when Tom Ince danced inside the attentions of Pedersen and Kieftenbeld on the right of the box and pulled the ball back, only for Bojan to hoist it high into the crowd on the run from a decent position.
In the 66th minute Colin came close to breaking the deadlock when he made a give-and-go with Jota. The run and return pass took him scooting inside two players and into the box and he let fly, a powerful, rising shot crashing onto the underside of the crossbar. Jutkiewicz tried to turn the rebound in with an overhead kick but was flagged offside.
The game was becoming stretched and from one ball down the left from Maghoma, on as a substitute, Adams set up Gardner on the edge of the box and his low sidefooter towards the corner was saved by Butland.
Next Ince set himself up onto his left side in typical fashion, from the other part of the Blues box, and his rasping attempt took a deflection just wide of the post.
Things were certainly hotting up and Stoke made a double substitution for the remaining 20 minutes, bringing on Charlie Adam and Saido Berahino, who were soon followed by Peter Crouch.
Blues made a switch of their own, Wes Harding replacing Pedersen – who picked up a yellow card in the first-half and was ill overnight - on his 22nd birthday, to try and keep a reign on the increasing influence of Ince.
But it was all about Blues attacking threat as it turned out, with Adams slamming in an 81st minute goal.
It was a really well-crafted goal, too, coming from deep with the ball moved from right to infield, where Maghoma was loitering.
Maghoma burst forward and waited for the perfect moment to slip the ball to his left, for Jutkiewicz. He whipped over a first time cross with curve on it and Adams slid in, to stick it into the back of the net with his outstretched leg from inside six yards.
Maghoma almost got a second goal a minute later, shooting on the run from 25 yards and Butland had to make a parrying stop.
The drama then swung to the other end as Stoke piled on the pressure, Blues living dangerously from a succession of goalmouth scrambles.
From a corner, the ball was played back in and Allen fired at goal from close range after Crouch caused problems. There were furious appeals from Stoke as the ball struck Gardner right in front of the line, with Jutkiewicz also in there amid a crowd of Blues bodies flinging themselves to try and protect the lead.
Stoke felt that moments earlier Adams had got in the way of a goalbound effort by Crouch, with his arm to the fore.
In the aftermath pf the second incident as Blues brought on Marc Roberts for Adams, Rowett was shown the red card by referee Roger East for protesting.
Blues had to negotiate six minutes of added-time and did just so; only at the end when chasing a lost cause did Stoke really cause concern.
Stoke City (4-2-3-1): Butland, Martina, Pieters, Williams, Martins Indi, Woods, Allen, McClean (Berahino 70), Ince, Bojan (Adam 70), Afobe (Crouch 80). Subs not used: Federici, Shawcross, Fletcher, Edwards.
Booking: Williams (45+2).
Sent-off: Gary Rowett (87).
Blues (4-4-2): Camp, Colin, Pedersen (Harding 73), Dean, Morrison, Mahoney (Maghoma 62), Kieftenbeld, Gary Gardner, Jota, Jutkiewicz, Adams (Roberts 87). Subs not used: Trueman, Solomon-Otabor, Dacres-Cogley, Lubala.
Goal: Adams (81).
Bookings: Pedersen (32), Jota (90+5).
Referee: Roger East.
Attendance: 28,160 (away 3,221).