Stoke City strengthened their play-off push with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Luton Town on Saturday.
The Potters, who won on the road for the first time in nearly three months against Blackpool a few days before, made it two away victories and two clean sheets in a week, ending what was an excellent few days for the Staffordshire club.
Michael O’Neill’s side now sit on 28 points from their first 17 games, and whilst they are 10 points from the automatic spots, they are now three clear of QPR in seventh.
Despite being a much more efficient side on home soil this season, The Potters are now proving that they can be a strong outfit on the road too.
Here, we take a look at three things that we learnt about Stoke during their 1-0 victory over Luton at the weekend…
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They can grind out results
Saturday’s clash at Kenilworth Road was decided by one bit of quality when Romaine Sawyers’ pinpoint cross was turned in by the onrushing Jacob Brown.
The Potters defended resolutely from that point on to ensure that three points travelled back with them to Staffordshire.
Stoke limited The Hatters to very little in the final third, and with Luton proving to be a strong side on home soil, it was an excellent defensive display.
The Potters managed the game very well, and results like these will go a long way in their pursuit of promotion.
Danny Batth has plenty left to give
Danny Batth had seemingly been dropping down the pecking order this season, with the young defensive unit of Ben Wilmot, Harry Souttar and Leo Ostigard, appearing to be the trusted three.
James Chester has also seen more game time than the former Wolves defender, making it seem that he is considered fifth-choice centre-back at present.
However, Batth has played the full 90 minutes in Stoke’s last two games and has kept clean sheets in them both.
Against The Hatters, Batth displayed his physicality against Elijah Adebayo who has been giving defenders nightmares this season, but he was also a composed figure in possession, helping The Potters progress from the back.
Performance that gives O’Neill lots to think about over the international break
O’Neill has a strong, capable squad, but that means that he will need to be making key decisions when Championship action returns.
Wilmot has been an integral part of Stoke’s backline since joining from Watford, but as he displayed on Saturday, Batth is a more than competent option.
Sawyers, Joe Allen and Jordan Thompson all helped Stoke to dominate the midfield at Kenilworth Road, meaning it could be quite difficult for Mario Vrancic to pave his way back into the starting line up.
Even up front there are questions, with Brown and Steve Fletcher forming an excellent partnership this season, but as Tyrese Campbell nears full fitness, and with a player like Sam Surridge on the bench, there are big decisions to be made.