Michael O’Neill picked out a quality that has been questioned too many times at Stoke City in recent times for underpinning today’s hard-fought win over Cardiff.
It was a match when Stoke needed to battle, with a Callum Paterson own goal under pressure from Nick Powell at a Jordan Thompson corner and Joe Allen pouncing in the six-yard box sealing three valuable points.
That value was emphasised thanks to results elsewhere, including wins for Wigan Athletic and Barnsley, meaning Stoke are only three points ahead of the bottom three.
But defeats for Huddersfield and Middlesbrough means they climb two places and within a couple of points of Charlton and four of Hull.
O’Neill said: “We’re delighted with the win, the three points and I think today in this performance we showed a lot of resilience. I think that’s something that has been questioned this season on a number of occasions.
“It was very good to show that today against a team that was always going to test you. We had to deal with a lot of balls into the box and direct play, which I thought we dealt with well.
“We created some good chances as well ourselves at times.
“There are aspects where we will look back on the game and think we could have been a little bit better but the nature of the game made it difficult to get real control.
“I felt that we were never under any real great threat and looked a threat ourselves.”
Indeed, Stoke had been questioned just last weekend when they let a two-goal lead slip at Queens Park Rangers to lose 4-2.
But O’Neill kept faith with the same starting XI.
He said: “I think you need a settled side.
“You’re not always going to get brilliant performances in the Championship. The demand on the players is so much.. To get belief and confidence into the team you have to be consistent in your selection. That’s what we’ve tried to do.
“I actually felt we changed the team but it wasn’t, we just changed the shape a little bit!
“Also, people have to push to get in the team. People have to do enough to get in the team as well. That’s a big part of it.
“Overall, while we were disappointed with the two defeats prior to this game, there were a lot of things we could have been positive about as well.”
You can look at the goals we lost at QPR and make changes but I thought Danny Batth and James Chester were excellent today.
“Jack (Butland) had a really good game. It’s difficult so when your goalkeeper is going to come and take things, claim throws and corner kicks, it takes a lot of pressure off the back four.”