With leaders Manchester United expected to beat Fulham on Monday, City desperately needed a win at the Britannia Stadium to keep the pressure on their cross-town rivals.

However City were forced to scramble a draw via a deflected long-range shot from Yaya Toure after Stoke striker Peter Crouch had fired City ahead with a spectacular 30-yard volley.

The draw returned City to the top of the table on goal difference but means that United can now open up a crucial three-point lead if they beat Fulham at Old Trafford on Monday.

City assistant manager David Platt was forced to defend Roberto Mancini after the Italian refused to carry out his media duties following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City.

Mancini left Platt to do the interviews after a result which put them top on goal difference but which opened the door to Manchester United to go three points clear if they win at Fulham on Monday night.

The Italian did not shake the hand of Stoke manager Tony Pulis either but Platt said nothing should be read into his actions.

“It’s not a case of being too angry – he’s just wary that he might say something that gets him in hot water,” Platt explained at the time.

“It’s about the way the game unfolded. It is very difficult when you come here and sometimes you look for a bit of protection.

“It’s a bit hot afterwards but once he’s calmed down he’ll be fine. You know what he is like and if he comes in and something goes out where it is lost in translation…”

Stoke’s physical style of play does not win them many friends but City could have no complaints about their goal, smashed in by Peter Crouch from 25 yards.

And though United may now have the edge, the two sides have still to meet at City’s Etihad Stadium, perhaps swinging the momentum back in City’s favour.

“People could turn around and say that this was two points dropped but we won’t know that until the season has ended to see if it was actually a point gained,” Platt said.

“There are enough games left for us still to have a good go at it and that’s what we’ll be doing.

“There is a long way to go and there will be more twists and turns along the way, for certain.

“We will follow our own road as we have been doing all season and win as many games as we possibly can between now and the last match.

“Our destiny is still well within our own hands, which is all you can ask for at this stage. The lads are positive and we move on to the next game, now.”