2016 - 2017

2016 - 2017

Monday, April 30, 2007

That Penalty !! Oh Dear Mr Salisbury.

From the Sentinel Stand it looked like a perfectly good clean well timed tackle by Salif Diao against Colchester on Saturday.Indeed it was. Not only did Salif make contact with the ball,but also with it well on its way, the Colchester forward was still upright!! Ref Graham Salisbury was considerably closer than we were....do refs sometimes see what they want to see, rather than what actually happens?

Well...Better Late Than Never !!

Dooh!! Get thinking about all those intricate permutations of results which could see Stoke in the playoffs after Sunday's games,and you miss the obvious. I missed the obvious and suggested that the outcome was not entirely in Stoke's hands.

But it is!! Beat QPR by more clear goals than Southampton beat Southend and its job done!! Simple really...and better late than never.Can we do it? Of course we can!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Down To The (Seriously Thin) Wire ! Stoke City 3 Colchester Utd 1

It couldn’t get much closer. With one game to play Stoke and Southampton are 7th and 6th respectively, both with a game to play next Sunday, both on 72 points, both with a +21 goal difference, the Saints taking the last playoff position thanks to scoring more goals.

In this game Stoke were well below par in a nervy first half. A lively Colchester team, aided by a dodgy referee, went into halftime one goal up. Colchester had one or two good chances but failed to convert. Hendrie missed in front of goal for Stoke. Iwelumo – who got a deserved friendly response from the home fans all afternoon- took and scored Colchester’s penalty expertly, driving the ball low into the right corner of Simonsen’s net, the goalie, despite diving the right way, well beaten.

Should it have been a penalty? No! Should Stoke have had a penalty when Darel Russell was chopped down at the other end of the pitch? Emphatically yes!! Mysteriously the ref awarded the free kick to Colchester.

Stoke were unrecognisable in the second half. It must have been some team talk by the manager at half time because they came out and simply overpowered Colchester. The visitors were hit by the now familiar 3 goal blitz, scorers in a very short space of time being Russell - with a downward header after Sidibe headed back from a Lawrence cross - ( pictured below), Sidibe, and Higginbottom.
Sidibe’s strike (below right) from outside the box was the best of the bunch. Played through by Lawrence he cut in powerfully from the left and shot across the goalkeeper into the right corner of the net. He’s done this twice now in recent weeks….now he’s got the idea and the confidence to carry it out maybe he will more regularly add goals to his otherwise excellent all round game.

Having achieved a 2 goal cushion with captain Higginbottom's headed goal (left) Stoke did not really push forward for additional goals in the latter part of the game, even against a Colchester side reduced to 10 men by the sending off of Barker, who had been involved in a series of skirmishes with Hendrie.

Stoke were comfortable at the end. So were the fans, but fingernails could take a serious bashing next weekend ! Whether we like it or not making the playoffs next week is not entirely in our own hands, but there are so many fine permutations that could see us make it. Ideally we need to win at QPR and see what others around us do. There are even possible scenarios where a draw would be enough! Cross everything!!!

Stoke Goals:
Russell 53 Sidibe 57 Higginbotham 62

StokeTeam: Simonsen,Hoefkens,Fortune ,Higginbotham ,Griffin ,Lawrence (Eustace ,84 ) ,Russell ,Diao (Martin ,89 ) ,Hendrie ,Fuller (Pericard ,88 ) ,Sidibe
Subs not used: Hoult,Zakuani,

Monday, April 23, 2007

Even Tighter Near The Top !

West Bromwich lost their chance to go 4 points clear of Stoke when they were beaten 3-2 at Burnley, having been 2 goals up after just 8 minutes. Consolation for disconsolate Stokies....Burnley's winner came 3 minutes from the end.WBA played with only 10 men for the whole of the second half.

Getting more interesting by the day!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Very Tight Near The Top !

A quick glance at the Coca Cola Championship table reveals that,mathematically,one of the 3 promotion places could go to teams currently down to 10th place.

The two automatic places are shuffling between Birmingham,Sunderland ,and Derby County and at least two of the three will go up without needing a playoff win.All have 2 games to play.

Following Wolves unlucky defeat today at home to Birmingham City,4th place.( Preston) to 10th (Sheffield Wednesday...coming up very fast on the rails!)is covered by 3 points with two games to play for everyone except West Bromwich who have a game in hand,tomorrow night's fixture away to much improved Burnley.

There is a great deal riding on the remaining two regular fixtures.

Stoke could yet prosper if they can keep their nerve and crucially bag the goal chances that come their way!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lightening Strikes Stoke Again : Stoke City 1 Hull City 1

Sunderland equalised in the last minute! Cardiff equalised in the last minute! Today Stoke were leading 1-0 through Liam Lawrence's first half goal,when with minute of added on time to go,Barmby popped up to equalise for the visitors!For this to happen at all is distressing for fans whichever club they support.For it to happen on 2 consecutive Saturdays is mortifying.For Stokies today especially so. Forget the Cardiff result.Had Stoke won today the extra 2 points would have put them into 4th place.As it is they drop to 8th in the table.

It need not have been this way.Stoke took the lead on the stroke of half time.Liam Lawrence was put away down the right wing,cutting in toward goal.His shot was deflected by a Hull defender, ballooning up into the air and looping over the stranded keeper before dropping into the net.At the start of the second half three gilt edged chances were spurned.

First Sidibe, who had an excellent match,unsettled the Hull defence on the edge of their penalty area.Faced with a difficult dropping ball and an open goal Fuller managed only to hit the bar.
Second Fuller picked up the ball,made rapid progress down the right wing and played a lovely ball in,which left the advancing Lee Hendrie with an open goal.Rather than steadying himself,and controlling the ball,which he certainly has the skill to do, he opted to take it first time,succeeding only in screwing his shot outside the lefthand post.
Third Fuller again progressed down the right, cut into the penalty area,and instead of squaring the ball to 2 unmarked teammates for a tap in he elected to shoot....unsuccessfully.

Fuller had a good game and its easy to understand why he decided to shoot himself.In the last 2 months he has made countless chances in this way for other players to mess up the opportunities often from point blank range!!

Stoke's rearguard was strong throughout ( the only real cracks showing when Hull went route 1 for the last few minutes with Parkin on as a sub !), midfield was disappointing particularly with Eustace having an off day.The chances were there to win the game.We did not take them.No one to blame but ourselves.

Yet all is not yet lost! Preston managed to lose another game.Wolves and WBA could lose points in the next couple of days.Whatever others do Stoke must win their remaining 2 games if they are to stand any chance.

As chance would have it next week's visitors are Colchester,now equal on points with Stoke,and with identical aspirations.Promises to be a real crunch game.If today was anything to go by nerves and fingernails will suffer in equal measure!We can still do it but we are making things harder for ourselves.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Big Game For Stoke City FC Tomorrow !

Stoke versus Hull City tomorrow is an important game for both clubs.Hull are desperate to stay in the Championship,Stoke are equally keen to escape it in an upward direction.

Realistically Stoke need to win their last 3 games.That done it is fairly certain that some of the teams immediately above them will lose some points so that Stoke make the playoffs.Very much in Stoke's own hands then.A bigger gate than the season average is expected to be at the Britannia Stadium tomorrow.Will Stoke get the win they need in front of their expectant fans, or will they underperform as they have done so often in the recent past in front of a large home crowd? Hopefully not the latter!

How important will Jon Parkin be to the visitors? I sense that he will get a full game.Now that we've got him fitter and scoring again, and if he plays as well as he did for Stoke against Crystal Palace, then he will be a real handful for the home defence miserly though it may be!

It is to be hoped that Fortune gets through his fitness test and plays for Stoke.Together with Higginbottom he makes a central pairing well capable of shutting out any opposing attack at this level.

By this time tomorrow we will know if the dream continues...cross everything!!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cardiff City 1 Stoke City 1 : Still Grounds For Optimism!!

Stoke were within a minute of taking all three points from this game,Chopra equalising Hoefkens first half goal in the 90th minute.Following West Bromwich's home defeat last night, victory at Cardiff would have taken Stoke into the playoff places.

The result very much mirrors what happened to the Potters at Sunderland,drawing a game they deserved to win. Unfortunate really, and Stoke now have two potentially difficult home games in succession against Hull City and Colchester United.Win both of those, however, and who knows!!

Today's team was another patch up,and added to that during the game Fortune came off with a groin strain,which could keep him out of the remaining matches.By all accounts stoke had one golden chance to kill Cardiff off prior to their equaliser,but substitute Paterson could not cash in.

Stoke are still in 7th place now on 68 points,but with all to play for! My gut feeling is that they must now win all 3 remaining matches,which on their day they are well capable of doing.

Stoke Goal : Hoefkens (30)

Stoke Team:
Simonsen ,Fortune(Griffin ,72 ) ,Higginbotham ,Zakuani ,Dickinson ,Hoefkens ,Eustace ,Matteo (Russell ,86 ) ,Lawrence ,Fuller ,Pericard (Paterson ,76)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Still On ? Definitely !! Stoke City 2 Crystal Palace 1

Stoke still have their playoff hopes very much in their own hands. Yesterday they raised their points tally to 67,moved to 7th place,and are now only 1 point behind Preston in 6th.Preston continue to lose matches, above them Wolves and WBA got back to winning ways.Stoke's excellent goals difference could well count at some stage.

In truth Stoke should have won by a clearer margin yesterday.Strikers Fuller and Parkin again provided the goals.Parkin curled a beautiful shot from outside the box around the diving Palace keeper and into the corner of the net.Three goals in three games.It may be my imagination but he always seems to be in the right place at the right time.Yesterday he led the line with considerable determination and aplomb.

Fuller's effort carried his trademark.A lovely ball from Dickinson played him to the byline to the left side to the Palace penalty area.Marked by two defenders Fuller accelerated, bustled between them into the area as he does so often and fired a fierce shot which ricocheted into the net.

Unfortuately for Stoke Palace got themselves back into the game a few minutes later.From a corner Cort's header was on its way into the net.Zakuani's desperate diving effort to stop it, failed with an own goal being the result.

Stoke playing some beautiful slick interpassing football,at times making a good Palace side look very ordinary,created plenty of chances to extend their lead.At the end of the first half Hendrie,who had an excellent game,had a 1 on 1 with the keeper saved.Towards the end of the second half with people inevitably biting their fingernails Lawrence missed a sitter from 1 yard (or less!).It was difficult to make sense of what he was trying to do with the cross shot cum centre.Was he trying to get out of the way or was he applying a finishing touch to a ball which seemed on its way into the net in any case? Not sure what to make of Manager Pulis'after match radio comment that "he(Lawrence) isn't the brightest shilling in your pocket".

A great team effort from Stoke in which they never sat back too deep.The goal threat was there all afternoon which is not something we could have said just over a month ago.There was even time at the end for Mr.Pericard to come on for a gentle stroll.

Stoke Goals:

Parkin (20)
Fuller (27)

Stoke Team: Simonsen ,Zakuani ,Fortune ,Higginbotham ,Dickinson ,Lawrence ,Eustace ,Hoefkens ,Hendrie (Martin ,81 ) ,Parkin ,Fuller (Pericard ,89)

Other Subs: Hoult,Wilkinson,Paterson,

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Wow! West Bromwich Albion 1 Stoke City 3

Oh how Stoke seem to enjoy playing against the Baggies!! Stoke were 3-0 up within 22 minutes. For the second match in succession Ricardo Fuller turned on the magic showing what a handful he can be,in a 3 minute spell scoring one goal and making the other 2 via a Greening own goal and Parkin (getting his second in 2 games).Parkin had just replaced the injured Sidibe,who needed 12 stitches in an injury to his leg.

Koumas got a late consolation goal for WBA.

With results going their way the Potters are now only 2 points off the playoff places. With one or two teams above them seemingly going off the boil it could now be very much in Stoke’s hands whether they qualify or not.
Once again Monday’s match against Crystal Palace assumes great importance. A win could see Stoke push into the top six.Currently they are 8th.

Stoke Goals:

Fuller (13)
Greening (og 20)
Parkin (21)

Stoke Team: