Make no mistake, this result was huge. Had we lost it, the anxiety would have been unbearable; had we drawn it, the tension would still have ratcheted up; but coming away with three points has pushed the relegation genie deeper down into the bottle; the cork is still a little loose, but with Reading and Southampton both losing and Norwich getting thumped, we can all breath a little easier tonight.
To term the performance heroic would be over doing it, but Charlie Adam's brilliant volley against the bar apart, we never looked troubled at the back, despite Stoke fielding the tallest attacking quartet the Premiership has ever seen for the last 15 minutes: Crouch, Jerome, Kenwyne Jones and Shea - talk about land of the bleedin' giants! But Collins, Reid, O'Brien and Demel stood tall themselves and dealt comfortably with all the long balls pumped into them, no doubt thinking they were in an Allardyce training session! Bloody hell, we even kept a clean sheet with Pogatetz on the pitch!
The goal, as I said at half time, was superbly worked and finished by the replacements. Vaz Te ran at the defence - something he did all afternoon - and slipped in a brilliant reverse pass to the superbly positioned Collison, who placed his shot beautifully into the far corner. Collison could have scored again, but lost his footing, and set up Vaz Te, who really should have buried his chance but wanted one touch too many. Carroll missed an easy chance in the first 45 from a cross from Demel and Collins headed narrowly over too and Jarvis forced a good save from Bogovic when clean through on the angle in the second 45.
It wasn't a game for the purists but any football that was played, was played by ourselves. Those who criticise Allardyce for his long ball football really should watch Stoke when they are chasing a game. Yes we played it long at times, but for the most part we passed through midfield and hit the channels when we went long, rather than straight down the centre of the pitch which was the Stoke approach.
And so we climb back up to twelfth and, should Wigan and Villa both lose or draw, a decent buffer will again have been established. Yes QPR won, but they remain 13 points adrift of us. If they now survive at our expense, then Allardyce should be hung drawn and quartered at the end of the season!
Man of the match? Referee John Moss who refused to be intimidated by the crowd, Pulis and the moaning Stoke players. He correctly rejected penalty claims when O'Brien made a brilliant last ditch challenge on Jerome and also got it right when the ball was deflected back onto Demel's arm. I was expecting a Stoke penalty all afternoon so the referee deserves huge credit for his judgement and strength of character.
Player ratings: Jussi 6; Demel 7, Collins 8, Reid 8, O'Brien 7; O'Neil 6, Taylor 5, Cole 5, Diame 7, Jarvis 6, Carroll 7 Subs Vaz Te 8, Collison 7, Pogatetz 5