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Pulis return inspires Stoke to Villa victory

By Jack Maddox, CNN
  • Stoke City manager Pulis had not been expected at the game
  • His mother died earlier in the day
  • His half-time message helped inspire his team to a dramatic win

(CNN) -- An unexpected half-time appearance from Stoke City's mourning manager Tony Pulis helped inspire his side to a dramatic 2-1 victory against Aston Villa at the Britannia Stadium on Monday in the English Premier League.

Stoke City officials and players did not expect Pulis to attend the game due to his mother's death earlier in the day.

And under the guidance of assistant manager Dave Kemp, Stoke started brightly but failed to convert their chances before falling behind to a Stewart Downing header not long before half-time.

Going into the dressing room a goal down, the Stoke team expected tactical instruction from Kemp but instead found Tony Pulis waiting for them with an inspirational appearance along with his typical tactical vigor. Whatever was said at half-time worked as Stoke City fought back in the second half, with the expensive summer-signing Kenwyne Jones neatly heading in an equalizer with 10 minutes remaining.

He's a great manager. He's done fantastic here.
--Dave Kemp

Aston Villa looked likely to hold on for a draw but were left wondering how a game they spent so long leading slipped out of their hands, as Stoke City defender Robert Huth guided teammate Matthew Etherington's shot into the back of the net. Soon after, the final whistle blew and Stoke's vociferous crowd erupted after a hard-fought comeback.

This was Stoke City's first victory of the season, and assistant manager Kemp gave a lot of the credit to Pulis' half-time appearance when interviewed by Sky Sports after the match, saying, "That's Tony, he's passionate about his football club. He's had a very sad day, but he wanted to get here and he wanted to be part of it. We are glad he did because he's the manager of this football club and we wanted him here.

"He's a great manager. He's done fantastic here. We have got the result we wanted, so we are all pleased."