Thursday, December 28, 2006
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
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
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
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
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.
"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
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
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
LINK : The Sentinel " Setback For City As Fuller Jets Out"
Monday, December 04, 2006
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
Link: The Sentinel : City hit by loss of record £7m
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Link:Hull City Manager, Phil Parkinson, on his team's better form in recent weeks.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Link: Evening Sentinel
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
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
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
Sunday, November 05, 2006
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
In his opening match a 1-1 draw against Darlington he was prominent in the reportage:
The 26-year-old opened up the Quakers' defence with a perfectly-placed free-kick to allow Mkandawire to head home on 70 minutes.....
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
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
Monday, October 30, 2006
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
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.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Link: Clarets Mad
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
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
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
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
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
Sunday, October 15, 2006
(Needs free RealPlayer)
Tony Pulis Interview