Birmingham City did not look at all impressive in this lacklustre game, and were certainly there for the taking.In the end McSheffrey's second half headed goal was the difference between the teams,as he took one of the few chances that Birmingham created.
The makeshift Stoke team coped well for most of the game,and indeed managed to threaten the home goal on a number of occasions.Probably Stoke's best chance fell to on loan Lee Martin who had a one on one with the Birmingham keeper Doyle who was able to push the ball aside and to safety,as the Stoke forward shot a few paces too soon.
Other chances were missed,notably by Mama Sidibe.The question to be asked here is whether the player's undoubted value to the team effort, in many respects,is now outweighed by his inability to score.The coaches have clearly helped him to develop his game,but the one vital aspect remains elusive.He can't be relied upon to score from a high enough proportion of the chances created for him.
On the plus side Fuller had an excellent game turning the Birmingham defence on a number of occasions.Eustace put in a tidy performance linking play.Simonsen pulled off one stunning point blank save from Bendtner,otherwise had very little to do,and had no real chance with the goal as Bendtner's excellent cross reached McSheffrey.Like Southend's goal the previous week this was the only occasion that the Stoke defence was pulled seriously out of position.Fortune looks to be a good replacement for Duberry,and could have had an equalising goal to his name had he managed to get a better contact on the ball in a goalmouth scamble a minute or two before the end of the game as Stoke pressed.
Stoke,in 10th position after Saturday's matches, still remain in touch with the playoff places,4 points behind Cardiff,Southampton,and Sunderland.
Simonsen ,Hoefkens ,Fortune ,Higginbotham ,Griffin ,Lawrence ,Eustace ,Matteo ,Martin (Rooney ,74 ) ,Sidibe (Harper ,87 ) ,Fuller