STOKE CITY (2) vs ASTON VILLA(1)
WINGER Matthew Etherington admitted the shock appearance of boss Tony Pulis at half-time inspired Stoke to a dramatic late comeback.
Pulis, inset, was expected to miss the game following the death of his mother but made a surprise appearance just after the restart to rejuvenate a Potters side looking to avoid their worst-ever league start.
Stewart Downing headed Villa into a 35th minute lead before Stoke worked their way back into the game in pursuit of a first win of the season.
Kenwyne Jones opened his account for the club ten minutes from the end before defender Robert Huth struck with the last kick of the game to secure the points.
Etherington created both goals and pointed to the appearance of Pulis as the main factor for the turnaround.
“Obviously he wasn’t happy at half-time, he was very disappointed about what was happening,” the former West Ham player said. “He had thought it would be too much to be with us but after the first half and the way we played he came in. They were on top and he wasn’t happy, so he came in and we were better in the second half.”
Villa caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald continued to stand in for new boss Gerard Houllier while he works out his release from the France Football Federation.
He added: “We’re always confident in the way we play but Stoke are always very difficult to beat as they showed in the second half.”