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22 September 2018 Venue bet365 Stadium Attendance

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Report: Stoke City 2 Rovers 3

Bonkers game sees Rovers take all three points in Stoke after barnstorming second half

22 September 2018

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A barnstorming game saw Rovers race into a three-goal lead and nearly throw the win away before holding onto a huge three points against Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium

Goals from Bradley Dack and Danny Graham gave Rovers the perfect first half before a bonkers second half began with Harrison Reed bagging his first in club colours to make it 3-0.

Things were looking lovely for Rovers, but Stoke battled back late on through substitute Saido Berahino and Tom Ince making the final 10 minutes extremely nervy.

David Raya produced a sensational save before Berahino missed a 90th minute penalty as Rovers managed to secure a hard-fought victory in the Potteries and move up to 12th in the table.

Tony Mowbray made three changes to his starting XI from the one that began in midweek against Derby County, with Craig Conway, Kasey Palmer and Adam Armstrong dropping out and Reed, Elliott Bennett and Graham coming into the side.

There was still no place in the squad for Charlie Mulgrew, with a calf injury keeping the Scotland international out of action.

For the hosts, former Rover Mame Biram Diouf started, whilst Ince - son of ex-Rovers boss Paul - began on the wing for Gary Rowett's side.

After a decent start from Rovers it was the hosts who had the best opportunity inside the opening 15 minutes through the experienced Joe Allen, who poked just wide after Ince had deceived Amari'i Bell down the Stoke right.

Midway through the half and Rovers worked a deserved opener through Dack, who bagged his sixth of the season as he finished off a flowing move by bobbling a strike towards goal and the ball kissed Jack Butland's left-hand post before finding the back of the net.

Rovers were given confidence from the goal and were staying strong defensively, keeping the home side at bay with half time creeping closer.

But with just a moment to go before the break, things got better for Rovers thanks to Danny Graham's second strike of the season.

The 33-year-old latched onto a stunning long pass from Bennett before superbly tucking beyond Butland and into the bottom corner to finish a perfect half of football from the visitors.

The Potters made a half time alteration with Diouf heading off and Berahino coming on, but the switch couldn't change the flow of the game as Dack found Reed whose simple finish made it 3-0 just two minutes into the half.

That sparked a response from the hosts and Darragh Lenihan had to be on hand to nod an Allen cross off the head of the lurking Benik Afobe.

Dack had a couple of glorious chances to make it 4-0 soon after but saw Butland in his way after being played in by Graham before clattering the post from the follow up.

At the other end, Cuco Martina thrashed a shot over the bar as Rowett's men searched for a route back into the game.

Stoke threw on Peter Crouch as they changed up the tactics but still struggled to get shots away to test Raya, at least initially.

Crouch eventually did make the impact Rowett had hoped as his knockdown found fellow substitute Berahino, who nipped in to give Stoke hope of a comeback by creeping an effort into the bottom corner.

And the home side grabbed a second just a minute later as Berahino's cross-shot from the left was missed by Bell and Ince was there to tap home at the back post to ensure a nervy finish to the game.

And those fingernails were bitten a little more just a moment later as Raya produced an outstanding reaction save to stop Crouch from levelling the scores from point blank range.

Time was ticking down and in the final minute of normal time the home side were awarded a penalty as Lenihan was adjudged to have tugged the shirt of Berahino, but the striker stepped up, smashed his penalty against the bar, down, off the line and away as Rovers kept hold of their slender advantage.

But that was that and eventually we were allowed to breathe as referee Tony Harrington blew for full time to end an completely crazy clash.

Stoke City: Butland, Pieters, Allen, Ince, Etebo (Bojan, 89), Afobe (Crouch, 60), Martins Indi, Shawcross (c), Diouf (Berahino, 46), Martina, Woods.

Unused substitutes: Federici, Williams, Fletcher, Crouch, Bojan, Edwards.

Goals: Crouch, 79, Ince, 80

Booked: Woods, 15

Rovers: Raya, Nyambe, Lenihan, Williams, Bell, Reed (Rothwell, 80), Evans, Smallwood, Bennett (c), Dack (Brereton, 84), Graham (Armstrong, 84).

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Downing, Travis, Palmer.

Goals: Dack, 26, Graham, 44, Reed, 46.

Booked: Bennett, 90

Referee: Tony Harrington.

Attendance: 25,673 (1,855 away)

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