Stoke for the most part fired blanks in their match against Luton Town. The only real threats came from two Lee Hendrie corners in the first half ,and a brilliant free kick by the same player from outside the box in the second half which was only just cleared by a backpeddling Luton defender.
Stoke finished the match without both the the strikers they opened the game with. Once again Ricardo Fuller was sent off for allegedly violent conduct and the only complaint against the red card seemed to come from Fuller himself.His partner Sidibe was scythed down a few minutes later by a Luton’s Davis, who was also given his marching orders. Sidibe was in the wars several times before he too had to leave the pitch for good having damaged his leg in a collision with a goalpost as he attempted to get his head to a cross.
Stoke can best be described as disjointed,fretful,lacking any real penetration,and unable to mount any sustained pressure. Of most concern, far from playing for each other as they had been doing before Christmas ( when the inevitable mistakes were acknowledged between teamates with a positive sign of some kind), the was real evidence not only of frustration with shortcomings but also instances of blame being passed.Not good.
It remains to be seen whether or not young forwards Adam Rooney and Lee Martin, for example, have what it takes to get the goals to reignite Stoke’s push for promotion. With Fuller missing the next 3 games, Sidibe and Pericard injured, it is to be hoped that Tony Pulis can obtain the services of a loan striker.
Stoke are now 6 points adrift of the top six places, and face a difficult match at Derby County on Wednesday night.
Stoke: Simonsen ,Hoefkens ,Higginbotham ,Fortune ,Griffin (Dickinson 88 ),Lawrence ,Russell (Martin ,77 ) ,Diao ,Hendrie ,Fuller (sent off 29),Sidibe (Rooney ,58)
Subs not used: Hoult,Eustace,