By Robert Morris
A 92nd minute strike from Matthew Etherington denied the blues a fifth away win of the season after a physical encounter at the Britannia Stadium saw both sides leave with just a point.
Following the impressive 4-1 win over Fulham last week, it was clear that today’s game was to be very different, as Stoke looked to close the ball down from the first minute. Rory Delap, whose long throw-ins caused all sorts of problems last season, almost opened the scoring early on but City rode their luck.
Ricardo Fuller also looked to be a thorn in City’s backline but the striker missed several glorious chances to put his side ahead before the break.
City were brighter in the second-half with the help of Mario Balotelli who had been welcomed back into the side following his three match suspension. However, Stoke still pressed, and they nearly broke the deadlock had it of not been for James Milner’s clearance off the line from a Stoke corner.
With just 10 minutes remaining, Roberto Mancini’s men took the lead. Micah Richards, receiving the ball on the edge of the area, dummied Robert Huth before shooting low into the net. City had seemingly escaped a tough fixture with all three points, although there was to be another twist in the tale.
Stoke received a reward for all their hard work when, at the death, Tuncay Sanli produced a delightful back-heel that Etherington latched onto to fire past Joe Hart for the equaliser.
Dropping two vital points, City were unable to take the opportunity to jump above Chelsea in the table. They now face a tricky home fixture against overachievers Bolton Wanderers who remain just three points behind them in sixth. City simply must win in order to prevent any blushes on the blue side of Manchester.