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Kenwyne JonesThere are a few clubs that produce films about themselves but none is quite as effective as the half-time montage shown on the screens of the Britannia Stadium.

It begins with George Eastham lifting the League Cup in 1972 and spirals downwards until 1990 when Stoke become part of the Third Division before being dragged back up again.

It reminds the club what it is capable of and where it has come from and it is a reason why Tony Pulis, the manager under whom Stoke have taken their most decisive strides, was able to describe this as a "European adventure" without there being any tittering at the back.

After their 1-0 win on a plastic pitch in the first leg in Switzerland, there was never any real doubt Stoke would qualify for the group stages – though this was an emphatic display – and when the draw is made they will be a team to avoid.

There was a buzz about this game which might come as a surprise to those who consider the Europa League to be the Carling Cup with passports. Until very recently European football and Stoke City seemed the stuff of PlayStation and virtually every home seat in the Britannia Stadium had been sold.

It was, however, much less of an event than in the Bernese Oberland. Precisely 46 supporters had travelled from the lakeside town that lies in the shadow of the Jungfrau and the Eiger to the altogether gentler scenery of Staffordshire.

Thun may be leading the Swiss Super League but realistically the 46 would have known their night was done the moment Matthew Upson rose to thunder home Jermaine Pennant's corner. It was Upson's first goal since another header provided a brief fig leaf during England's debacle against Germany in Bloemfontein.

This at least led to something. When Stoke qualified for the Europa League many wondered how Europe would cope with Rory Delap's long throws and all that obvious physicality. The real question is how they will cope with the kind of superb wing-play Pennant is so often capable of?

It was on display when Pennant delivered another cross half a dozen minutes later and Kenwyne Jones stooped between two defenders to head home Stoke's second.

That pretty much wrapped up qualification but, just to make sure, when the Swiss defence failed to properly clear one of Pennant's corners, Glenn Whelan came charging in, took deliberate aim and saw the ball dip before it flew in beneath the crossbar.

Even when Pennant was removed the crosses kept coming and when Tom Soares, driving down the right, sent over a deep ball on the run, it was met with one of Jones's unanswerable headers.

Just to show it was not a complete walkover, Andreas Wittwer then scored a surprisingly good goal, given the state of play, allowing the 46 to reach for their scarves and launch into another chorus of Yellow Submarine.

Jones stars as Potters progress.
Soccernet.com.


Stoke cruised into the Europa League group stages as Kenwyne Jones helped them wrap up a comfortable 5-1 aggregate victory over FC Thun with a brace in the play-off second leg 4-1 win at the Britannia Stadium.

Going into the game 1-0 up from last Thursday's initial meeting in Switzerland, the Potters soon extended their lead, scoring three times in the first half through headers from Matthew Upson and Jones and a drilled effort by Glenn Whelan.

Jones crashed home his second with just under 20 minutes to go before substitute Andreas Wittwer netted a consolation for Thun.

The result means Stoke, who are taking part in major European competition for the first time in 37 years, have guaranteed themselves at least six more continental fixtures and they will discover who their opponents are when the draw for the group stage is made tomorrow.

Manager Tony Pulis made four changes to his starting line-up, replacing suspended duo Robert Huth and Matthew Etherington with Andy Wilkinson and Danny Pugh, scorer of the only goal in the first leg.

The other adjustments from Sunday's Barclays Premier League draw at Norwich saw Thomas Sorensen and Upson included in the first XI again as they had been a week earlier, while Jermaine Pennant was fit to start despite limping off in the first half at Carrow Road.

Thun exerted some early pressure and Marc Schneider's shot was blocked by Wilkinson in the third minute.

Stoke began to settle down but struggled to fashion much going forward, with Pennant seeing a delivery into the danger zone headed clear by Benjamin Luthi and Dean Whitehead just failing to get on the end of a return pass from Jon Walters in the box.

Muhamed Demiri tried a spectacular effort from distance for the visitors which sailed high over the bar before the Potters carved out their first real goalscoring opportunity, Jones nodding Pennant's cross wide in the 23rd minute.

Two minutes later Stoke were in front as Pennant swung in a corner and Upson rose to head in his first goal for the club on his home debut.

All the Swiss side could muster in response was another ambitious long-range strike, launched by Stephan Andrist and easily caught by Sorensen, before Pulis' men further increased their advantage just after the half-hour mark.

Pennant was the supplier again, clipping the ball into the area where a diving Jones directed it under stand-in Thun goalkeeper Dragan Djukic.

Djukic - in the team because regular stopper David Da Costa was banned following his sending-off in the first leg - was then beaten a third time, a failed clearance from a corner in the 38th minute falling to Whelan, who lashed into the net from the edge of the box.
Four minutes after the restart Wilkinson battled his way past several players to unleash a shot that flashed wide.

Thun captain Roland Battig hit a tame effort which Sorensen claimed comfortably.

Pennant was then taken off for Tom Soares, and Pulis also subsequently introduced Danny Collins and Ryan Shotton in place of Marc Wilson and Walters.

The addition of fresh legs paid off in the 72nd minute as Soares beat his man on the right and sent in a cross which was converted by the head of Jones.

The Potters appeared to ease off slightly in the closing stages and Wittwer managed to pull one back for the visitors with 13 minutes of normal time to go.

Sekou Sanogo was then allowed to head wide, but Stoke's job was done, the final whistle confirming the continuation of their European adventure.

Scoring Summary

Stoke City 4 (Matthew Upson 25, Kenwyne Jones 31, 72, Glenn Whelan 38)  v FC Thun 1 (Andreas Wittwer 77)

'It's finding the right balance' - Jones.
stokecityfc.com.

GOALSCORING hero Kenwyne Jones is convinced Stoke City can build upon their success last season after securing a spot in the Group Stages of the Europa League . . . but believes it's vital for the players not to forget their main priority.

The Trinidad and Tobago international starred for the Potters against FC Thun on Thursday evening by grabbing his second and third goals in the space of five days to extend the Club's excellent unbeaten start to the season to six matches.

But whilst admitting the prospect of regular Europa League action is an exciting one, Jones insists the side now need to find the right balancing act if they are to remain successful on both domestic and European fronts over the next three months.

"It's fantastic to be where we are right now, and to qualify for the Group Stages is a good achievement for the Football Club, but it's only a start and we can't afford to sit back and applaud ourselves," he told Stoke City Player.

"There is a lot of hard work in front of us now. European football is totally different to the Premier League, so the big thing for us now is to learn how to balance the two competitions, because games will come at us thick and fast.

"We know our priority is still the Premier League, none of us will hide from that fact, but whilst we are in the Europa League we have the belief that we can go on and do very well in it, especially after what we've achieved so far."

The Club record signing added: "The key for us will be how we can come off the back of a European match and get back down to business in the league. It's an art that we need to master over the next few months if we are to do well."

To hear the full and exclusive interview with the Club's current leading goalscorer then click HERE and find out what else he had to say exclusively to Stoke City Player.