Ake header brings Stoke’s unbeaten run to grinding halt

Date published: Saturday 19th November 2016 4:55

Nathan Ake: Mobbed by Bournemouth team-mates

Nathan Ake: Mobbed by Bournemouth team-mates

Bournemouth brought a halt to Stoke’s recent revival as a 1-0 win at the bet365 Stadium gave Eddie Howe’s team a first away victory of the season in the Premier League.

Cherries boss Howe wanted his players to show they were a better side than the one which slumped to successive defeats to Middlesbrough and Sunderland prior to the international break and they did just that with a solid and well-drilled performance in the Potteries.

Nathan Ake’s 26th-minute header was enough for all three points as Stoke looked off the pace in the first half. They improved after the break but blew the chance to extend their unbeaten run to seven league matches for the first time since December 2012 when Bojan Krkic crashed a penalty against the crossbar at the start of the second half.

Bournemouth began brightly, Stoke sluggishly, and the hosts were fortunate they did not pay a hefty price for their start after 10 minutes when Jack Wilshere’s beautifully-weighted pass sent Callum Wilson through on goal with Ryan Shawcross in tow.

The Stoke defender felled Wilson with a sliding challenge from behind inside the penalty area but referee Roger East, to the astonishment of Howe and the majority of the rest of the 27,815 inside the bet365 Stadium, did not award the spot-kick and waved away the appeals.

Television replays showed Bournemouth had been hard done by while Stoke should arguably have been contesting the remainder of the match with 10 men.

Shortly afterwards, the visitors threatened again and once more Wilshere was involved. The on-loan Arsenal midfielder put a low cross into the box which Wilson dummied for Josh King but his shot was diverted wide by the fingertips of Lee Grant diving to his right.

When Bournemouth made the breakthrough it was further evidence that Stoke were still not up to speed as the unmarked Ake, on his first Premier League start for the club, headed home Junior Stanislas’ free-kick from inside the six-yard area.

Joe Allen, superb in a more advanced role prior to the international break, seemed subdued in a deeper role but a surging run forward brought a free-kick for his side after he was brought down by Harry Arter just outside the box. However, Xherdan Shaqiri curled his shot harmlessly over the bar.

As half-time approached there were signs that Stoke were coming to life and a goal-line clearance from Steve Cook kept out Shawcross’ header before Ake got an important block on a goalbound effort from Wilfried Bony.

Mark Hughes’ men carried that momentum into the second half with Adam Federici pushing away a Bony header. Then, from the rebound, another controversial penalty incident – this time given by East.

As Bojan retrieved the loose ball, Bournemouth captain Simon Francis stepped on his foot and the Spaniard theatrically flung himself to the ground. He regained his feet to take the spot-kick himself but crashed his 49th-minute effort against the bar.

The Cherries seemed content to try to pick off Stoke on the counter-attack thereafter, although they created little. Wilson sent a header narrowly wide before King hit a shot into the side-netting.

But the hosts, despite periods of pressure, struggled to threaten as well. Their best chances of an equalising goal both came in the final 10 minutes as Shaqiri scooped a shot over from 12 yards out and Jonathan Walters headed tamely at Federici.

Wilshere nearly capped a fine display with a goal in the final minute but his curling shot clipped the post.

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