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Stoke ease relegation fears as Steven Schumacher enjoys Plymouth reunion
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
Steven Schumacher came up against his former side (Jess Hornby/PA)
Steven Schumacher came up against his former side (Jess Hornby/PA)

Steven Schumacher claimed the bragging rights over his former employers Plymouth as Stoke eased to a 3-0 win.

Schumacher, who led the Pilgrims to the League One title last season before leaving for the Potters in December, was given a frosty reception by the vocal visitors.

But it was the new Stoke boss who had the last laugh as the hosts did the talking on the pitch thanks to goals from their Dutch trio.

A rapid-fire double from Ki-Jana Hoever and Million Manhoef before the interval helped Schumacher’s side take a big step closer to survival.

And a Wouter Burger strike in stoppage time capped an impressive display as Stoke climb to 17th – six points above the relegation zone with only two fixtures remaining.

Plymouth’s three-match unbeaten start under new interim boss Neil Dewsnip was ended as they now sit four points clear of the drop zone.

Dewsnip, who was Schumacher’s PE teacher, Everton academy coach and director of football at Argyle, had enjoyed a bright run since replacing Ian Foster.

Victories against Rotherham and Leicester had eased fears of an immediate return to the third tier.

However, it was Stoke, with relegation concerns of their own, who raced out of the blocks with Tyrese Campbell and ex-Pilgrim Luke Cundle both going close early on.

Plymouth lynchpin Morgan Whittaker, who was named in the Championship Team of the Season this week, nearly justified why he is catching the attention of many.

His dipping strike from range was tipped over by Daniel Iversen before a threatening free-kick whistled agonisingly wide of the top corner.

The Potters assumed control and almost snatched the advantage, only for Hoever’s venomous effort to cannon off the crossbar.

But the Wolves loanee was not left reeling for too long as he advanced into the box and finished with aplomb for a third goal in five games.

The shaky visitors were pounced upon as Stoke capitalised with a second just four minutes later thanks to Hoever’s compatriot Manhoef.

The January recruit from Vitesse collected the ball on the edge of the box and unleashed a rocket into the bottom corner beyond a helpless Michael Cooper.

Plymouth have never won at Stoke in 20 attempts across their 138-year existence, and Dewsnip attempted to spur a late fightback with a string of changes.

But the fresh legs could not sway the Potters’ momentum as another former Pilgrim Niall Ennis twice came close to adding a third.

That responsibility ultimately fell to substitute Burger, who sealed an important victory deep into stoppage time.


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