2016 - 2017

2016 - 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Has He Been To Stoke Already ?? Pretty Sure We've Seen Him! Or A Few Like Him.

We've had our share of interesting decisions at Stoke lately. But last night at Charlton Steve Artis proved again that ref's and their assistants are only human and that in the heat of the match its possible for them to get things horribly wrong.

Handball there definitely wasn't by the Charlton defender Triore....but the consequent, wrongly awarded free kick led to Fulham's equaliser. Its only a game, but the future financial consequences of such decisions can often be considerable.

It may be my imagination but often it seems to be the case that, physically, the closer the official is to an incident the less he/she actually sees.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Deon Does For Potters : Stoke City 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2

It has often been the case that Stoke do not rise to the Boxing Day occasion turning in lacklustre performances.Yesterday's match,however was emphatically NOT one of those below par performances, in front of a big holiday crowd, the best of the season so far at 23,003.

The result was disappointing but Stoke lost a hard fought game to a Sheffield Wednesday team who were clearly up for it, and certainly were not afraid to mix it physically with Stoke. 7 Sheffield bookings to 3 for Stoke confirms that impression.Referee Foy-after long consultation with his assistant- defused the games nastiest moment by booking both Lee Hendrie for a late tackle, and the recipient Andrews for retaliation. It has to be said that the latter was the luckier of the two in that he avoided the red card.

A further observation is that Lee Hendrie had clearly been targetted by Sheffield, and (like many other players before him) he is not nearly so effective for the team once he starts to get involved in exchanges with opposing players and officials rather than simply getting on with his game. That said, once again he was involved in Stoke's equalising goal,providing the excellent cross for Sidibe's 12 yard header at the Boothen End.

Stoke put together some really good football at times and could have scored at least twice in the first half before The Owls got their opening goal, but overall the visitors looked more energetic than the home team. Something had obviously been said at halftime with Stoke opening in more lively fashion, their efforts culminating in Sidibe's equaliser.

Throughout it was evident that the visitors had come for more than one point. Their positive approach was rewarded with a winning goal from ex-Stokie substitute Deon Burton, who netted after one of those 'bagatelle' moments in the Stoke goalmouth which featured shooting, good saves, rebounds,interceptions, before Burton finally put the ball in the net despite Stoke's best defensive efforts.

On balance Stoke should have got something from the game, against a spirited, determined, and at times adventurous Sheffield side, which will be no push over for anyone in the remainder of the season. Looking on the bright side whilst Stoke drop out of the playoff places they are still very much in touch being only 4 points off an outright promotion place !!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Stoke Bounce Back At Ipswich

Stoke quickly put last week's defeat at Colchester behind them, securing an excellent 1-0 victory at Ipswich. The match itself was not notable for its quality, but again brings us 3 welcome points, with the added bonus that we are now back in the playoff places in 4th spot.

The return of Salif Diao clearly made a real difference, bringing quality, stability, simplicity, and linkage to the team. Again Lee Hendrie made a telling contribution to the match, his clever back heel setting up Liam Lawrence to score the winning goal in the 71st minute.

Enforced changes to the back four might have been expected to cause disruption.Another excellent cleansheet speaks for itself though!!

Things are now set up nicely for the match against Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day.

LINK: Sunday Times Match Report

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Stoke City To Return To Winning Ways at Ipswich Today?

After last week's defeat at Colchester brought Stoke's run of success to an end some doubters surfaced again but it was interesting to hear mainly positives from most committed fans.

In a wide ranging interview with Radio Stoke it is interesting to have Manager Tony Pulis's upbeat take on 'all things Stoke' just ahead of the festive period fixtures and the reopening transfer window in January.

LINK: Tony Pulis - Radio Stoke

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Stoke City Old Boy - Colchester Utd Striker Chris Iwelumo

LINK :Chris Iwelumo Profile

Saturday's match promises to be a very close game as Stoke City's miserly defence pits its wits against the freescoring Colchester forward line. Certainly Colchester have the firepower, especially at home, to threaten Stoke's record breaking run of 7 cleansheets.

Joint top scorers - each with 10 goals - are Jamie Cureton and ex- Stokie Chris Iwelumo. In Colchester's last home match Iwelumo netted four times against admittedly poor Hull City.

Colchester have a fine home record having won their last 8 home games on the spin.Stoke though, on current form would fancy their chances of coming away from Layer Road with at least a draw.

Sam Bangoura....On His Way?

Back in November after the Hull City match this blog made the following observation :

"Most pleasing was that Sam Bangoura played a part in Russell's goal. Manager Pulis has kept him on the bench for a long time,quite deliberately - and rightly- to be sure, making the point firmly that the club is bigger than the player, however much he may have cost in transfer fees.Playing on the club's terms rather than his own, if Bangoura really has got the message, then he could well find that there will be more opportunities to make a serious contribution to the cause. "

It seems that there are to be no more opportunities with news that Bangoura will be put in the shop window by being loaned out to FC Brussels.It is a pity that this talented striker is unreliable in other ways: ways which undermine not only himself but potentially the team and the club management also.Shrewdly Tony Pulis has not left himself exposed as Johann Boskamp unwittingly did last season.

It remains to be seen how much of their record £900,000 outlay Stoke can recoup when and if Bangoura moves on permanently.Eliminating his substantial wagebill should open up possibilities for incoming players.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Keeno Caretaker At West Ham

Following today's sacking of West Ham Manager Alan Pardew, first team coach and ex Stokie Kevin Keen takes over temporarily.

Keeno has been spotted several times recently on the touchline during televised West Ham matches.Given West Ham's recent form we wonder how long he will survive once a new manager is appointed.

Keeno featured in the last Stoke team (1995 -96) that made a concerted bid for entry into the Premiership. He did not, however,figure in the playoff matches themselves in which Martin O'Neill's Leicester team mugged Lou Macari's Potters.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Not As Tight As The Scoreline Would Suggest : Stoke City 1 QPR 0

In the event Stoke had all their frontline players available. Against a robust QPR team they had chances to enhance the scoreline, but in the end depended on Higginbottom's first half penalty conversion, after Fuller was impeded in the box.

Amongst other chances QPR goalkeeper Royce pulled off a magnificent first half save from a Hendrie shot, after some really swift and incisive build up play by Stoke. Only Pericard will know how he missed an open goal when set up by a Berger cut back in the last few minutes, however.

Stoke looked sharp in the first half playing some class football, if occasionally they did overelaborate their moves. In the second half the team was less ambitious, and QPR came more into things, but did not penetrate the excellent Stoke defence - which now has delivered 7 consecutive clean sheets - too often.

Andy Griffin completed his loan spell from Portsmouth with a masterly display on the left side of defence, which rightly earned him Man of the Match from the sponsors.Nothing is ever certain, but it looks quite likely that he will return to Stoke on a permanent basis in January.

An excellent result, plus 5th in the league table, not at all a bad day's work, in front of an appreciative crowd, on what was easily the coldest day at the Britannia so far this season.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Leading Players Missing against QPR on Saturday?

Injuries and compassionate leave could well have an adverse effect on team selection for Saturday's match. Fuller, Higginbottom, Lawrence, and Bagoura are all mentioned.

LINK : The Sentinel " Setback For City As Fuller Jets Out"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Praise For Hoefkens From Tony Pulis...Triffic !!

Carl Hoefkens, last season's fan's Player of the Year, has had an interesting season so far at Stoke City.First the Belgian international (pictured left in the recent Euro 2008 qualifier against Poland : Courtesy of Sport Gazeta,Poland) was left out of the team altogether, then when he did get back in he had 'a toys out of the pram' episode when Higginbottom took a penalty kick instead of him, leaving the ground in a huff after that match. All of this was accompanied by much media and fan comment to the effect that he would be leaving the club in the January window,and that he did not get on with manager Tony Pulis.

In recent weeks things seem to have gone quiet off the pitch, but on it Carl's boots have done more of the talking. He has been an integral part of Stoke's fine backline which has not conceded a goal for a club record six consecutive games, and, indeed, has the best defensive record in all the league having let in only 15 goals.

In each of the last two home games he was on the receiving end of critical blasts from skipper Michael Duberry, but to his credit got on with his game, no sulks on those occasions as far as we could tell. Most of the time he has looked pretty assured both defensively and going forward.

We cannot be certain what will happen in January but it was good to seeTony Pulis single him out for praise, following Saturday's 0 - 0 draw at Coventry City, something which he has not done before. Maybe this is a good omen. Carl is a class player, a pleasure to watch,with no little skill....to remain on Stoke's books would not only be good for the club but for him as well.

Hope fences are well and truly mended...hope he stays !!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Stoke City FC Financial Position Last Season ....Worse Than We Thought!!

The parlous financial state at Stoke City during the last few months of Icelandic ownership and control are now revealed.It is now easy to see why the takeover negotiations were protracted.

Link: The Sentinel : City hit by loss of record £7m

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Happy Mama Helps See Off Cardiff : Stoke City 3 Cardiff City 0

There can be no doubt that Mama Sidibe puts everything into his game, every time he pulls on a Stoke City shirt. He may not be the most elegant of players, but he is a seriously awkward customer to handle, physically challenging to opposing players. As a striker he is unlikely to be a prolific scorer of goals. One moment he is apparently clumsy, the next he shoots off at speed toward the opposition goal with the ball under control. He holds the ball up well.His' flickons' often deserve a better fate. Certainly he wins a high proportion of the balls that come his way in the air, despite the close attention of opposing defenders. There is also little question that he has been getting better as this season has progressed : some extra little tricks to beat defenders in tight situations, some effective layoffs, and one- twos. He never seems to stop working up and down the pitch.

Last night's match again showed that he can alternately frustrate and then delight the fans. In the first half he completely failed to make contact with a superb cross from the right, when a sound connection could well have brought him a goal.Disappointment! But at the end of Stoke's second half purple patch, prompted by Fuller's unselfish pass, he shot confidently into the net from the edge of the box for Stoke's third goal. Joy!His enjoyment was evident to everyone at the ground. A very happy man indeed. Certainly his team mates were thrilled for him-their reaction making it clear that they recognise what he brings to the team.

Liam Lawrence looks to be another very shrewd acquisition.He provided the pass for Ricardo Fuller's opening goal, then went on to get the second goal himself following a Lee Hendrie corner. His first goal for Stoke capped another all action game, covering - as the cliche would have it - every blade of grass at the Brit.

Cardiff are a good side...they were simply swept aside by Stoke on the night. At the moment it is a real pleasure to be a Stoke fan....long may it continue!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tight Result - Stoke City Beat The Baggies 1-0

This result continues Stoke's excellent run of form, a hard fought, but deserved win, courtesy of Higginbottom's penalty late in the first half after Darel Russell had been upended.

Stoke were just the better of two very good and wellmatched teams in the first half. In the second half honours equal, except for the last 15 minutes or so, when West Bromwich exerted more pressure, but could not break through for the equalising goal.

Stoke could improve on 6th place in the league if they can deliver in tomorrow's difficult home fixture against Cardiff City.On current form you would not bet against Stoke.As things stand this fixture would be Andy Griffin's last match for us on loan from Portsmouth.On the plus side Ricardo Fuller has served his 3 match ban and should be available for the match.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

It Feels Really Good.......Enjoy It !!

What a difference a few weeks makes! Most of the negativity seems to have evaporated, hopefully not just for the time being.

Its great to hear people not only agreeing with one another but also getting excited as a matchday approaches. The Radio Stoke phone-ins are a pleasure to listen to again...at one point I felt like not bothering to listen at all.

The Oatcake messageboard is a real treat again.....brilliant, special humour ( which is what I have always associated with the board !!) from lots of posters....people getting behind the team rather than having a pop at each other.

Add to all that the manager goes out and lands another potentially excellent short term signing in Patrick Berger from Villa. So much to talk about at the pub before the match ....

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Stoke City :Onward & Upward

There is a general feeling that Saturday's match against West Bromwich Albion is finely balanced : Stoke are enjoying an excellent run, and West Brom are also looking good under new manager Tony Mowbray, beating Burnley 3-0 last week.

They have a more than useful squad. Jason Koumas , central to their success, has indicated that he will be staying at the club come January.They have recognised Premiership strikers in Diomansy Kamara (leading goalscorer on 8 this season), Kevin Phillips, and Nathan Ellington.

But then Stoke have some decent players too, are now a very difficult team to beat, especially so with the home fans behind them. Crucially it looks as though Lee Hendrie will still be with us.It has often been the case in the past that a good following shows up for a prime fixture only to leave the Britannia after the match feeling a touch despondent after a disappointing result.

Wisely Tony Pulis has chosen to damp down the level of expectation - as early as last Saturday after the Hull match saying that the Stoke fans needed to be patient.....and ,further,earlier this week, that the upcoming games against the Baggies and then Cardiff would give a clearer picture of where the team is actually at.He clearly feels it is not yet the finished article.

Slightly nervous, but with guarded optimism too, is how I am approaching this game. Stoke can win it......I sincerely hope they do!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lee Hendrie....and Martin O'Neill re Return To Aston Villa

One or two pointers in these news items as to how things might stand between them.....with Lee,in effect, saying he might have to rethink his future at Villa come the January transfer window....Martin,it would seem, not going to be bounced into bringing him back into the young and successful current Villa team.

Where does this leave Stoke?They may yet get Lee for another month, but come January,as of this moment, his thoughts are clearly to be elsewhere in the Premiership if he is not in the Villa team.

Link 1: Hendrie waits for Villa decision
Link 2:Hendrie seeks return to top

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hull City 0 Stoke City 2 - Just Outside The Playoff Places !!

A really sound result for Stoke.....three victories on the bounce, two of them away, and three clean sheets! Darel Russell continues in goal scoring touch adding to his all round improvement. All very positive as the club climbs to 7th place in the Championship, with a healthy balance on goal difference too.

Most pleasing was that Sam Bangoura played a part in Russell's goal. Manager Pulis has kept him on the bench for a long time,quite deliberately - and rightly- to be sure, making the point firmly that the club is bigger than the player, however much he may have cost in transfer fees.Playing on the club's terms rather than his own, if Bangoura really has got the message, then he could well find that there will be more opportunities to make a serious contribution to the cause.

Winger Liam Lawrence to Stoke City from Sunderland

"Sunderland winger Liam Lawrence has joined Championship rivals Stoke City on loan until January.

The 24-year-old Irishman is then expected to make a permanent switch to the Britannia Stadium.

The £175,000 signing from Mansfield in June 2004 was part of the team which won the Championship title in his first season at the Stadium of Light.

He scored only three goals during their short stay in the Premiership and has made 13 appearances this season."

Courtesy : BBC Sport News

Not much time wasted replacing Luke Chadwick.......and if this( LINK) is anything to go by things are beginning to look very interesting indeed.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Danny Mills

Mills, ex- England full back on loan from Manchester City, who has contributed to Hull City's recent improvement, will not be in the Tigers team tomorrow against Stoke.He has returned to Manchester City having suffered a stress fracture of the shin.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hull City Approaching Saturday's Stoke City Fixture With Confidence

Hull, like Stoke, did not get their season off to the best of starts, but just recently things have improved, the Tigers 2-0 win against Wolves last Saturday being a particularly notable result, lifting them as it did out of the bottom three in the division. With both teams on the up potentially this makes for a cracking match on Saturday.

Link:Hull City Manager, Phil Parkinson, on his team's better form in recent weeks.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Chadwick Update......

Luke Chadwick's loan move to Norwich - to become permanent in January for a fee of £220,000- is reported on in full in this evening's 'Evening Sentinel'..... move based on personal rather than footballing reasons.

Link: Evening Sentinel

Chadwick Out To Norwich....! Hendrie Back To Villa?

Following Stoke's decent win at Crystal Palace on Saturday, and rising in the Coca Cola Championship to within 2 points of the playoff positions, it was something of a surprise to find that Luke Chadwick has gone out on loan to Norwich. Chadwick has had some much better games recently for the club and there could be no doubting his commitment and effort ( was it one or two man of the match performances?) but it would seem that his future may lie elsewhere for whatever reason.

Not quite so surprising is the increasing drumbeat that Lee Hendrie will be recalled by Aston Villa.....certainly they have a mounting injury list and a relatively small squad for a Premiership team. It would be a great loss to Stoke.Once again he made the difference on Saturday,playing the astute pass which created the opportunity for Darel Russell's match winning goal.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Third Time Lucky? Stoke City to win at Crystal Palace

This could be a good time to visit Palace.They have not won at home since September.Cautionary words from manager Tony Pulis though, when he pointed out that people thought that it was a good time to be going to both Southampton and Leicester, and that Stoke didn't win either game. This is the one though......

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fuller Suspension

Stoke forward Ricardo Fuller has been suspended for 3 games starting with the match against Crystal Palace on Saturday. The club decided not to appeal . Fuller was sent off for allegedly elbowing a Coventry player on Monday night.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Whose Pies At The Brit ??

Change of caterers at The Britannia Stadium, back to Lindley...seem to remember pies often having disappointing levels of filling. Hopefully the firm could be persuaded to continue with Wright's excellent pie products. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Stoke Master Sky Blues In The Fog : Stoke City 1 Coventry City 0

A funny game this one, with a few turns and twists to it. We were lucky to see as much as we did given the swirling fog that descended on the Britannia Stadium as soon as the match kicked off.

There can be little doubt that the right side emerged with a victory close though the score was. Coventry made it much more difficult for Stoke than Norwich had been able to do in The Potters previous home game .Many of the players had difficulty keeping their feet particularly ,it seemed, at critical moments when they were about to shoot, make a pass, or go past an opponent in open play.

Stoke’s build up play was not as fluent and fluid as it had been against Norwich, but nevertheless their forwards, Ricardo Fuller in particular, had plenty of chances to give Stoke an emphatic winning scoreline, but the chances were spurned. The deciding goal when it did come, just shy of 60minutes, was a spectacular long range effort from on-loan full back Andy Griffin which sped straight and true to the top right corner of the net. Marshall, Coventry’s goalkeeper had no chance of keeping it out. ( Griff Goal)

The goal celebrations were hardly finished when, three minutes later, we were treated to the sight of our leading scorer Fuller being sent off for appearing to elbow Doyle. There is a suggestion that Doyle had hold of Fuller’s shirt and that the forward was merely shaking himself free. Certainly, as in other games recently, throughout there was a certain amount of frustration from players who felt they were being illegally and unfairly held back or impeded as they tried to play, often with justification.

Through the final phase of the game, played with 10 men, Stoke covered well and with real determination, and succeeded in keeping Coventry out. For the most part Stoke were on the back foot, but even so substitute Pericard was put clear on one occasion. He had the chance to make the game safe but was unable to beat the Coventry goalkeeper. An added time equaliser by McKenzie was correctly ruled offside by the assistant referee. To be honest, as a fan, the last few minutes did not feel half as stressful, as the final period against Sunderland a few weeks earlier.

As a result of this win Stoke rise to 14th in the CCC league table, on 21 points

( Photos courtesy of Sky Sports)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Temptation Is....

Day at work!
Stoke Season ticket holder!
Stoke v Cov on Sky!
30 mile drive, plus traffic to get to The Britannia!
Falling temperatures!

= a real temptation to stay at home and watch the match on the box.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Carl Dickinson at the Seaside

Dickinson, on loan at Blackpool from Stoke seems to be making a real contribution to maintaining the club’s unbeaten league run, which now extends to nine games, including yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Northampton.

Retro it maybe, but a look at the report in ‘The Blackpool Gazette’ on his debut match for them , a 2-1 away win at Crewe is good for a smile or two at least : as a sample….

Following 10 man Blackpool’s 90th minute winner at Gresty Road…..

“The mass hysteria had barely subsided when referee Carl Boyeson blew for full-time and then it started all over again, led by on-loan Stoke full-back Carl Dickinson. He marched to the fans and shook his fists in the air in slightly hysterical fashion.
If someone did that in the street it would result in other members of the public crossing the road and avoiding eye contact, while surreptitiously making mental notes in case required for a future edition of Crimewatch. But on a football field after a 2-1 win in your first start for your new club, it's acceptable – and Dickinson deserved it after coming through the toughest of baptisms.
Signed just 48 hours before, the 19-year-old recovered from a slightly shaky start to enjoy a fine game and he, along with the outstanding defensive trio of Barker, Evatt and Michael Jackson, did as much as any Pool player to secure the points.”

As a piece of amusing journalism the rest of the report is worth a look.

Link: Blackpool Gazette

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Hereford Loanee :John Eustace

John Eustace - in what will probably be a make or break season for him at Stoke - has so far made 3 starts for ‘The Bulls’ during his month’s loan to Hereford. Some real encouragement for his future at Stoke beyond his one year contract extension: not only has he been making his mark on games but also, touch wood, he seems to be lasting the full 90 minutes.

In his opening match a 1-1 draw against Darlington he was prominent in the reportage:

“At the heart of the late action was midfielder John Eustace who made a good impression on his debut after arriving on a month's loan from Stoke City.

The 26-year-old opened up the Quakers' defence with a perfectly-placed free-kick to allow Mkandawire to head home on 70 minutes.....

Then an inch-perfect pass set Stuart Fleetwood racing through on goal, only for the striker, who is now without a goal in two months, to fire narrowly wide of an upright....

Undeterred, Eustace produced another superb pass within a minute to put Andy Williams in the clear. But, with goalkeeper Sam Russell racing off his line, the young striker snatched at his chance and allowed the Quakers keeper to block the ball to safety....

It had been Eustace who set up Williams with a chance to give Hereford the boost of a welcome early goal when he set last season's top-scorer away with another perceptive pass on eight minutes.Williams raced 50 yards but then thrashed his shot across goal and wide with colleagues probably better placed in the centre.......

Eustace himself had a shot blocked shortly afterwards but it was Darlington who went on to have the better of the first period, although their goal, when it arrived had an element of fortune about it.” ( Richard Prime, Hereford Times)

He also played the full 90 minutes in the 3-1 away victory against MK Dons last Saturday, and Tuesday night’s home win 1-0 against Accrington.........Fingers crossed.

PS Family connection, his grandfather Ken Eustace, a goalkeeper, only played once for Hereford in the 1949-50 season….a 5-0 defeat by Barry Town!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Disappointment At Leicester

Expectation was high, following Saturday's excellent result, that Stoke would take 3 points from their visit to Leicester. But you can't take anything for granted!

Listening to Radio Stoke's commentary there did not seem to be much problem for Stoke, taking the lead through yet another splendid goal from birthday boy Fuller. Unfortunately the added time equaliser for the home team seemed to lift them, sufficiently for them to emerge as 2 - 1 winners at the end of the game. Stoke had chances, at least to equalise, with Fuller hitting the woodwork on one occasion.

Manager Tony Pulis' disappointment was tangible in his post match interview with Radio Stoke commentator, Nigel Johnson.

Link: Pulis Interview

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Russell and Griffin Stoke Injury Doubts Ahead of Match At Leicester

It is to be hoped that both Griffin (neck) and Russell (calf) recover in time and get to put in an appearance against Leicester City. Both had fine games against Norwich on Saturday.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ricardo Fuller

A thought or two about Stoke's 26 year old Jamaican forward......

First, at around £500,000, he is beginning to look like a particularly sharp piece of business by Manager Tony Pulis.

Second the way he took his goal against Norwich on Saturday marked something that we have not had at Stoke for a while : a striker who does NOT panic and shoot wildly wide or over the top if the goalmouth beckons.

From our viewpoint on Saturday he seemed to be closed down as he moved along the 6 yard line, not once, but twice. He had the cool and confidence to push the ball each time before popping it skillfully into the net.

Hopefully he will steer clear of injury.....if he does then Pulis's prediction of 15 to 20 goals this season will not be far wide of the mark.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Stoke Feast On Traditional Norfolk Canary Pie :Stoke City 5 Norwich 0

You will not find this recipe in any of Delia's cookbooks. This was a well deserved victory for Stoke, although the scoreline might be a little flattering. Such was Stoke's industry ( and at times imagination) that they outplayed a Norwich side that has done quite well since Nigel Worthington left. The Canaries were made to look very ordinary indeed.

Once again there was enterprise and inspiration from on loan Lee Hendrie ( another goal, and approaching hero status after just a few short weeks at the club !!) and steady dependability from Salif Diao. Again,as in other matches recently, these players brought out the best in those around them. Daryl Russell was a revelation against his former club, and Luke Chadwick had his best game for a long while ( certainly since early last season when he was playing for a contract).To add icing to their cake both of them scored.

There can be no doubting the class of Higginbottom at the centre of Stoke's defence.His ability to play the ball out of defence constructively is a considerable asset to the team. Leaving aside the petulance which Hoefkens showed when deposed by Higginbottom as penalty taker (to be fair to him, the job he had done successfully since he took over last season after one or two Gallagher penalty misses) the Belgian player had an excellent afternoon with some good overlapping runs and some slick one two passing.He has bags of talent, and it would be sad if he leaves the club in January, as seems increasingly likely.

One of those matches that you did not want to end!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Jimmy McIlroy .. Missed Birthday..75 on Wednesday

Jimmy was a classy player, one of Stoke ManagerTony Waddington's shrewd acquisitions in 1963.Over 30 when he signed he had the ability to make things happen on the pitch, particularly with his incisive passes. Picked up from Burnley- where he still enjoys cult status - the Northern Irish international served Stoke well.

Link: Clarets Mad

Ade Akinbiyi Training Ground Altercation

Life's never dull with ex- Stokie Ade Akinbiyi about. Training ground incident at Sheffield Utd involving AA and Claude Davis looks like a windup that got out of hand. Mention made in reports of a razor being involved

Makes AA's sit- in outside John Rudge's Office at The Britannia, not many months ago, seems quite tame by comparison!!

Link : Daily Mail Friday 27th Oct 2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Goallie Needed at Stoke City FC

Manager Tony Pulis is clearly not going to let anyone rest on their laurels. His earlier comments about necessary change suggested that it might be journeymen players he would be seeking to move on.

The current N0.1 goalkeeper Steve Simonsen has had some impressive games, often making sure that points earned by the team were kept in the bag with reaction saves.However there have been times when he has appeared less than convincing, particularly on crosses.

Whilst not mentioning the keeper by name Pulis described Southampton's goal on Saturday as 'soft', referred to 'individual mistakes' as costing, and expressed disappointment at 'not keeping a clean sheet.When asked to comment on a good save that had been made by the keeper, he didn't concur.

So we perhaps shouldn't be surprised by what appeared in the 'Evening Sentinel' last night

'Stoke City are stepping up their search for a second goalkeeper to join Steve Simonsen at the Britannia Stadium.'

"We have been looking for another keeper for some while," said Pulis, "it's not something that we've been sweeping under the carpet.But there's no doubt that competition is the best way to keep people in good form and not fall into the trap of drifting down easy street."

"You need competition for all positions, but goalkeeper is a particularly crucial area because if there is a mistake there, nine times out of 10 it's a goal, often a winning goal."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Stoke City Away Card Scheme

It is pleasing to hear from Tony Scholes, Chief Executive at Stoke CityFC, that ultimately the Away Card Scheme may be discontinued, although he did not put a timescale to it. Certainly this move would be expected to increase Stoke's away following,which would be welcome.

He was speaking at the end of an interview with Radio Stoke dealing with football banning orders.With regard to these he asked for some perspective. Although Stoke statistically were held to be 4th worst in the country the bulk of the (50 of the 58 total) orders related to 2 matches: one involving England v Wales at Manchester in 2004, the other a cup match Stoke v Birmingham in early 2006.Very little trouble had been experienced at all other matches home and away involving Stoke.

Radio Stoke Interview:
Tony Scholes on Football Banning Orders

Friday, October 20, 2006

Wembley Stadium...Ready For The Next FA Cup Final

Looks like the 'When Will Wembley Stadium Be Finished Saga' is finally heading for a conclusion. It should be the venue for the 2007 Cup Final all being well.

Remember these words from the WS website:

"How much will the new stadium cost? The entire Wembley Stadium project will cost £757 million, including WNSL's contribution to the redevelopment of local transport infrastructure. "

"How do these costs breakdown? • The purchase of the land and early design fees cost £120 million.• The basic cost of building the stadium is £352 million • Demolishing the old stadium and fitting out the new will cost £99 million.• The contribution to local infrastructure improvements is £21 million.• Financing the project, management and other costs amount to £165 million."

"What is the possibility of cost over-runs and who would be responsible? The contract with Multiplex Constructions UK is fixed-price. The cost of any overruns will be borne by them. "

A s we all know there has been an overrun with the Aussie construction firm Multiplex, and Wembley Stadium blaming each other.Multiplex were looking for £100m over and above the fixed contract price of £458 to finish off the work.Reluctantly the FA are now to pay a compromise additional £40m to the firm for final work. Final price tag in excess of £800m.

Am I the only one to be just a little concerned about everything being ready for the Olympic Games in 2012??

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Stoke City 2 Sunderland 1

Great night at the Britannia Stadium.....atmosphere and crowd reaction to the team's efforts brilliant....a goal down at halftime, but then a purple patch 10 minutes into the second half,with goals from Hendrie and Pericard, bringing the 3 points. Nail biting last 15 minutes or so as the team seemed to drop back deeper into defence, although that had a lot to do with concerted Sunderland pressure with particular danger and crosses coming in from the left.

Delap started the game - his first at home - brightly,but was injured in a collision with Sunderland's Elliot. It is upsetting and sad to see any player stretchered from the pitch.From the stands the injury looked serious,and if later rumours are to be believed he has a leg broken in two places.It can only be hoped that he makes a swift and full recovery.

The loan players who remained on the pitch -Hendrie, Griffin,and Diao- made a major contribution to the win : Hendrie with his excellent drilled shot plus all action approach, Diao with his calm unhurried economical (laid back?) style, and simple but effective passes. Probably best of all is that both of these players , plus Griffin have had the effect of bringing the best out of the players that we already have.Russell is a revelation...Sidibe seems so much sharper.

Definite grounds for increasing optimism.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Championship Highlights

Watching the highlights on TV what was really impressive was the quality of the Stoke goals scored against Leeds,with attack midfield and defenders all contributing. Has Mr. Pulis answered the question...where are the goals going to come from? Can't wait until tomorrow's fixture against Sunderland to see if this really is the kickstart that the season needed.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Leeds Utd 0 Stoke City 4

Died and gone to Heaven.One swallow does not make a summer but....not only did they take the lead today but they had every intention of increasing it by all accounts. No way back for Leeds,unlike teams in earlier away matches this season.Loanees all made a substantial contribution.....and Fuller 2 in 2....if he stays fit could he be our first20 goal a season striker for a good while? Sincerely hope so.

Some Guarded Optimism

With the three loan acquisitions Lee Hendrie,Salif Diao, and Rory Delap to call on at Leeds tomorrow hopefully Stoke will show more midfield creativity than of late.It will be interesting to see who is omitted. Brammer quite likely..then who? Certainly good to see the message boards and also Radio Stoke's 'Praise and Grumble' more optimistic. Fingers crossed for a good result.

England Never Looked Likely

Somehow not only a disappointing but a dispiriting performance by the England...quite spoiled my day. Lots in talk and print about the system,but I think David Platt had it right when he said that the system didn't really matter,but what did was passion from all the players. No blame to Robinson on the second goal bobbles happen..think he was out of position for the first Croatian goal though. Rooney seemed sharper- which is a plus-though not back to his best.

Theo Walcott

Caught the highlights of Germany v England U 21 late last night. Really sound performance from England with Walcott's goals being the icing on the cake.Having seen the guy's pace and supreme finishing I am tempted to say that Sven selecting him for the World Cup was not at all premature.He is one of those talents where age is irrelevant...he's good enough now.Had he got off the bench in June I sense he would have surprised a few people and maybe even reshaped our fortunes.

Tony Pulis Interview With Radio Stoke

Read some doomster comments on the Oatcake message board again last night.Managed to listen to the interview tonight.Most of what the manager had to say in the 10 minute interview made sense......certainly the plea that we need to be patient.
(Needs free RealPlayer)
Tony Pulis Interview