Charlie Adam's first goal for Stoke City ensured Queens Park Rangers' appalling start to the season goes on. Four points from their opening 11 games, none of which have been won, means Mark Hughes' expensive team now lie on the bottom of the Premier League.
The Rangers' owner, Tony Fernandes, had made the journey to the Potteries, tweeting as he did so that now was not the time for panic. What he saw, however, must surely have given him pause for thought. Despite Hughes filling midfield with players of proven creativity, Rangers offered little going forward. Nor were they unlucky.
Any Rangers supporter of the opinion Hughes must be running out of excuses would be wrong, however. "We played well as an away side, it was a decent away performance. We restricted Stoke to very few chances and, in general play, I thought we were much the more dominant team," said the manager, a point of view that may be at odds with the disconsolate Rangers supporters in the Britannia Stadium.
He did however acknowledge their failure to take any of the few chances they did create is symptomatic of their season to date.
Adel Taarabt was probably the guiltiest man in that respect, when shortly before half-time he attempted to chip the Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic from close range when a firm shot would surely have done the necessary.
"In fairness to Adel if he'd scored then it would have capped an excellent first half by him," Hughes said. "But it wasn't to be and you know in these sort of games there's always a chance you might concede.
"Stoke will always put the ball into the box and you have to deal with that and unfortunately we made a mistake – one of very few mistakes we made, because defensively I thought we were very good."
Taarabt's effort aside, the first half was generally a poor one and the second had shown few signs of improvement when, seven minutes after the break, Robert Huth launched a free-kick hopefully into the Rangers' box.
Jon Walters headed on and Peter Crouch attempted to bring the ball under control but succeeded only in touching it on to Adam, who clipped the ball back across goalkeeper Júlio César and into the net. It was Adam's first goal for more than a year.
Begovic then had to be at his best in touching aside Granero's firm 70th-minute drive from inside the area but otherwise Stoke defended without alarm and should have extended their lead through Michael Kightly.
"The most important thing today was simply to win, though we played better than we played in our 10 other games," Tony Pulis said.
"But the longer you go without winning the more edgy you can get, so I'm very pleased," the manager added. "Our home form has been fantastic, four clean sheets in five games and the return has been very good, so the three points will lift a little bit of a monkey off the players' backs."
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © simonw92