Monday, December 29, 2008
I seem to recall that around the time of the Arsenal match - when Mr Wenger was voicing his displeasure at Stoke's physical style of play(as cover for a pretty dismal Arsenal perfomance some suggested) - that TP sought/received reassurance from the referees that Stoke's play was fair,robust, but within the rules of the game.
We know that refs are on a pro footing,that they gather for briefings, analysis,development, sharing etc.For my money from the evidence of recent matches there seems to be a 'ref's narrative' influencing events and refereeing decisions with regard to Stoke city FC.
They seem to perceive us as being overly physical and seem to be trying to compensate for that by being overly protective of opposition players. Man U and West Ham had players who were every bit as physical as ours but were not penalised to the same extent as the Stoke team.
Leave aside Fuller's stupid and entirely avoidable dismissal yesterday, he has been growing increasingly frustrated in recent weeks.I am sure there are many contributory causes for this, but I can't help feeling that he has been on the end of some pretty rough treatment from the opposition,which refs have consistently ignored/not seen (take your pick....another part of the refs narrative I think).Fuller was fouled heavily on four occasions on Saturday but got no joy from the ref,Ryan Giggs got protection from Mr.Foy immediately.
Don't think we are getting a fair crack at the moment.....
Sunday, December 28, 2008
For the second game running Stoke faced trying to save a point with only 10 men on the pitch.....this time, bizarrely, losing Ricardo Fuller.......sent off after he had cuffed his own captain!
Stoke got off to just the start they wanted with a headed goal from Abdy Faye,getting up well to Pugh's corner.Six minutes into the second half West Ham equalised with a quality goal from Carlton Cole, and late on took all 3 points with Tristan's 88th minute winner,an unfortunate deflection from a Cole shot.There was more than a hint of offside about the goal.
For those wondering how the Stoke manager Tony Pulis will handle this situation, his post match comment.....
"Andy Griffin had hurt his knee, I played him because Andy Wilkinson was suspended but he was happy to play. Before half-time he felt his calf but he wanted to give it five minutes to see how it was.
We're desperately disappointed to lose as we were against Manchester United, what's important is how we pick ourselves up.
We've got a good group of players who care about things and Ricardo Fuller cared too much - we'll deal with it in house, not through the media."
Friday, December 26, 2008
I have watched MU televised matches against other teams in recent seasons and on occasions been left with the slight feeling that very subtley they manipulated the officials in charge.
Sitting watching this game unfold at The Brit left me with more than just a slight feeling.........the ref gave the very real impression of a man on a mission...... to save an endangered species.
Stoke were uncompromising,energetic, and very much in the visitors faces.For the most part the challenges were fair.The (over) reactions of one or two United players to challenges caused Ref Foy to rush to their rescue.Penalising and booking Stoke players, Foy seemed less inclined to punish MU misdemeanours.....notably Rooney for seemingly elbowing the immaculate Amdy Faye, and Ronaldo for kicking out at Wilkinson.
There is an argument to be made that the United star could have been sent off for this......had that happened the chances are that Wilkinson himself would not have been sent off following a second yellow card (for his injudicious tackle on the portugese player).
Stoke gave a gutsy performance throughout, indeed would in my view have secured at least a point,had it not been for Wilko's dismissal.Having contained and frustrated United well for the majority of the game heartbreakingly Stoke conceded 6 minutes from the end of the match.A Neville cross from the right found sub Berbatov to the right of goal.He helped the ball on toward the oncoming Tevez,who blasted the ball into the roof of Sorensen's net from 6 yards out.
A great display from Stoke,with nothing to show for their efforts at the end.Worse, results elsewhere ensured that we dropped into the bottom three in the Premiership.
Mind you a win at West Ham could see us return to mid table..here's hoping!!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Throughout the game Stoke did not generate any substantial threat,despite having plenty of the ball and the home side not playing at all well. Whelan clipped Robinson's bar early on,and at the death sub Olofinjana brought a reaction save out of the surprised home keeper.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Stoke recovered brilliantly from an abysmal start. Going two goals down in the first 25 minutes to a brace from ex England striker Michael Owen,The Mighty Potters turned the game around in the second half,dominating the play,gaining a well deserved point with goals from Sidibe and Abdy Faye.
The first half saw Stoke exposed down both flanks,N'Zogbia giving Griffin a particularly torrid time.Owen was put through by Gutierrez for the opening goal on 8 minutes.Sixteen minutes later he bagged his second,tapping in from Martin's cross.
Given Stoke's away record this season people would be forgiven for feeling that was that.But we reckon without the spirit in the team, and the inspiration provided by the manager.Whelan had come on for Diao in the first half.He was joined by Fuller,and Tongue as the half progressed.
The fightback was sparked by Fuller's run to the byline, his cutback ball being netted by the now prolific Mama Sidibe.Stoke increasingly bossed the half, harrying the home players,denying them the time and spacethat they had enjoyed in the first half.
The icing was put on the cake in the 90th minute when Griffin's right side freekick was not cleared from the home six yard box,leaving Abdy Faye to blast the ball into the net from close range.
It has to be said that Stoke played some really good football, and again made plenty of chances.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Stoke started brightly enough but in the first 20 minutes there was not much quality football, though The Potters looked dangerous on the break.They had two opportunities to deploy Rory Delap's threatening throws but Derby defended against them well.As in a number of games this season Stoke lacked guile in the midfield, someone to play a penetrating through ball to set Fuller or Sidibe free on goal.As on Saturday Stoke created/were gifted a number of half chances but were not able to convert.
On 36 minutes Cresswell had the ball in the net from Fuller's pass, but the goal was chalked off by ref Rob Styles seemingly for handball by Creswell.Despite their pressure The Potters did not force a single save from Carroll in the Derby goal. Just on halftime Connolly blocked a goal bound Sidibe shot.
Immediately after the break Kris Commons header rattled the Stoke bar.If a wake up call was needed for the home team this was it, and Stoke certainly upped their effort for a while. Ricardo Fuller was denied a run on goal by a Derby sliding tackle.A headed on ball reached Fuller,but he powered his header over the goal when he should have done better.This was followed by a powerful Commons shot which fortunately was deflected up over the goal for a corner.
Following a Connolly foul on Sidibe Whelan's free kick was cleared for a corner.Shortly after, Sidibe blew an excellent chance from 7 yards out.Derby then were out of luck when a corner was headed across goal by Addison, hitting the Stoke post before going away safely for a goalkick.Then Sidibe's header from a Whelan freekick was brilliantly saved by keeper Carroll.Fuller's follow up was cleared over the bar by a Derby defender.
A tricky Fuller turn was stopped on the edge of the box. From Whelan's splendid freekick Carroll expertly palmed the ball away for a corner.The corner saw Fuller head over the bar.With 3 minutes added time being played the second of two Delap throws dropped to Sidibe who shot over the bar.Ref Styles controversially awarded a penalty to Derby for handball against Griffin. This was converted by Nathan Ellington with 30 seconds to go.
No coming back from that........
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The fog swirled around the ground as this match was contested by two of last season's promoted teams.Last year Hull gave us one of our most searching examinations,and today they arrived boasting the second best away record in the Premiership,including the scalps of Arsenal and Tottenham.A difficult game in prospect then....and so it proved.
Most of the play in the first half was in the midfield,with the visitors play every bit as robust as Stoke's.Neither side managed to generate any clear cut openings,but the half ended disastrously for The Potters.In added on time Rickett's free kick was nodded on,finding an unmarked Marlon King,whose shot across Sorensen found the top right corner of the net.To the best of my recollection Hull's first shot of the match!
Stoke looked a lot livelier in the second half,although much of their play was route one.Their threat increased when Tonge came on for Soares,who was not having a particularly effective game.Tongue played a ball across the Hull six yard box with Delap arriving a split second too late to turn the ball into the net.Ricardo Fuller had a header brilliantly saved on the line by keeper Myhill.
On 73 minutes Stoke secured a Fuller penalty equaliser.Fuller had powered into the Hull penalty area challenged by two defenders, and was tripped by keeper Myhill as he shaped to go round him.The keeper got a hand to the spotkick but was unable to keep the ball out of the net.
Another point earned in front of 27,500 sell out crowd...13th in the Premiership table....Ricardo Fuller on 6 goals..sweet!
Next up the Carling Cup Quarter Final against Derby County, and tomorrow the draw for the 3rd Round of the FA Cup.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Again a virtually full house of 26,613 were there to see the action.Stoke showed no hangover effect from their Man Utd experience,and went about their business as usual at home....very much in WBA's faces,closing them down quickly,providing very little opportunity for the visitors to string passing moves together .
Dave Kitson came in for suspended Ricardo Fuller,I am sure hoping that he would be able to open his goal account for the Potters.Unfortunatey he suffered what looked like a knee injury only a few minutes into the game and was replaced by striker Cresswell (who's last Premier League goal was notched in 2000!).For K itson.....When your luck's out.....
Creswell was busy throughout without looking likely to score.Soares had a couple of chances to put his team ahead but could make nothing of them.His deadball/freekick delivery was generally poor,and it was no surprise in the second half that he was replaced by Tongue.
The first half saw each side have one decent chance.For Stoke Sidibe took the ball down skillfully outside the penalty box before blasting a shot which looked all the way a goal until Carson's intervention.For the Baggies Ishmael Miller shot over when he might have done better.
The second half was Stoke's.The Baggies were largely ineffective going forward,but Stoke for their part did look threatening at times. Danger particularly came down the left touchline with Higginbotham overlapping.Higginbotham, Cresswell,Delap,and Tongue managed some excellent interpassing in the latter stages of the game.
The goal came from Higginbotham's run down the left,a smart one two with Tongue,and an exquisite cross by the fullback, which Sidibe rose majestically to meet,heading the ball back over the stranded WBA keeper into the left corner of the net.A goal good enough in its construction and execution to win any game.
One or two potential worries...in addition to Kitson,Ryan Shawcross hobbled off the pitch in the second half,and Abdy Faye seemed to be carrying a leg injury for part of the second half ( the man is an absolute rock at the very heart of our defence....he would be sorely missed if unavailable).
So 13th place, 17 points from 14 games,4 home wins on the bounce............boing bounce (WBA last beat Stoke at home in 1982!)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
On the pitch the Stoke team did not really reach the standards of play of recent weeks....maybe they were not allowed to.Manchester United took their visitors seriously enough.Sure Rooney and Ferdinand were missing,but they fielded Ronaldo (new contract rumoured to include £170,000 a week in wages),Berbatov,Tevez,and a selectionof European match regulars.
Against Liverpool Stoke benefitted from Gerrard's early free kick being chalked off by the ref.Today there was no similar reprieve as Ronaldo scored in the 3rd minute,his fierce free kick moving in the air sufficiently to deceive keeper Sorensen,who,on another day might have been able to deflect the ball over the bar.If that goal set out a different scene it was one in which for much of the half Stoke held their own,and made occasional threatening forays into the United half.
Stoke,and the match,were killed off by goals either side of halftime.Carrick took a ball across the edge of the penalty area,centrally placed,he worked the ball from his right foot to his left before shooting home on 45 minutes.Only 4 minutes after the break Berbatov fired home from close range in front the Stretford End.
End of contest,but Stoke continued to resist,until the 84 th minute.Young forward Welbeck,on for a few minutes experience, struck an unstoppable rocket of a shot from outside the area into the top corner of the Stoke net.A winning candidate for 'Goal of the Month' if ever I saw one,and easier now to see why the likes of Frazier Campbell go out on loan.
Visibly tired Stoke conceded another free kick on the edge of their penalty area.With his earlier goal Ronaldo's kick went over the Stoke defensive wall.This time (89mins) he deceived Sorensen by bending the ball around the right edge of the wall just inside the post,beating the keeper's despairing dive to his left.
On the day United had a bit too much for us....no shame in that.We fall to 14th in the table with 14 points from 13 games,and with some home matches to come starting with the baggies next Saturday.Another observation we've played the 'top four' sides and not disgraced ourselves......even more significant we average a point a game from those matches,something that many would not have expected when the season began.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The Potters continued their sedate progress in this year's competition in front of a decidedly repctable 15,458 fans.A goal in each half allied to a save or two from Simonsen (when it was only 1-0) was sufficient to see them through to potentially another big money spinning fixture ,ideally at home.
Glen Whelan had an excellent match,crowning his performance with a 21st minute goal from a free kick,following a foul on Pugh.
Pugh himself put the match beyond doubt in the 59th minute,slotting the ball home from Kitson's astute pass.
Kitson turned the ball into the Rotheram net twenty minutes later after keeper Warrington failed to hold a Whelan shot,but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Bring 'em on..... but who????
Saturday, November 08, 2008
The plan was clearly to defend in depth,and hope for something on the break or from a set piece.The first materialised, the latter did not.Stoke had very very few chances of note,in the first half Shawcross and Sidibe headers were about it.
The Potters saw even less of the Wigan goal in the second half as they were pushed back by the home side.Once again Thomas Sorensen in goal showed us what marvellous acquisition he is,as he he kept our Premiership show on the road with a series of fine saves from Zaki,Palacios,Camara,and Koumas.The best by far was a double effort,Sorensen getting down at is right post to save with his feet from Palacios,getting up smartly to punch Bramble's strong follow up shot over the bar.
So a point gained,and more bookings.Ricardo Fuller and Ryan Shawcross look to be heading for suspensions in the very near future,which would take a lot out of the team if it were to happen.We remain in 12th place in the table having risen at one stage to a dizzying 9th!!
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Funny old world as Greavsie used to say to Saint.....from the opening 10 weeks of the Premiership season Stoke gathered 7 points,week 11 saw a 3 day haul of 6 points from consecutive home wins.
Make no bones about it Arsenal were never really at the races in this game.Stoke were in their faces from the start,and quite a few of the visitors did not really fancy it much.
Stoke scored a goal in each half both from Rory Delap low trajectory rocket throw ins.On 10 minutes a throw from Delap zipped in, reached Fuller,who joyfully knocked it into the net past Almunia.
In the 73rd minute another colossal throw from the left was flicked on by Ryan Shawcross for Olofinjana to chest the ball into the Arsenal net.He wasn't bothering about how dignified it looked.....ball chested down, Olo falls forward,bobbling ball hits him again (chest? head?...not sure) and goes into the net.Impossible to defend against.....training ground move? Stunner!!!
Stoke two goals to the good,cue delirious celebrations amongst the 24,000 Stokies around the ground and amongst the players on the pitch.
So 12th in the table tonight with 13 points from 11 games ....and not lookingout of place amongst the big boys!
Arsenal ended the match with only 9 players on the pitch for the last few minutes.Sub Van Persie had been on the pitch less than 12 minutes when he was dispatched to the dressing room by referee Rob Styles for an idiotic and pointless challenge on Stoke keeper Sorensen.Another sub,England's Theo Walcott was taken off with a damaged shoulder.Arsenal did score a Clichy consolation goal in added on time when his free kick,initially heading wide, was deflected just inside Sorensen's right post.
Arsenal had possession but today were unable to find their killer touch,largely due to the immense efforts of the combative Stoke team.Stoke themselves played some good football,and had other chances to score,the most notable of which was a fine Almunia save from Salif Diao.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Stoke took hold of the Black Cats by the scruff of the neck at the outset and never let go.They played the game throughout at a high tempo,and looked quite the most threatening.Sunderland striker Cisse, who had looked so dangerous against Newcatle United at the weekend,got absolutely no change out of Stoke's solid central pairing of Abdy Faye (surely another Pulis' superb transfer steal) and a very mature and confident looking Ryan Shawcross.Indeed the whole back four looked pretty dependable.I can recall only two shots all night from Sunderland,and one save of note from Sorensen as he had to dive full length to get a hand to halftime sub Kenwyn Jones cross shot which was otherwise destined for the net.
Stoke pushed higher up the field in this game than they have been able to do of late,the pressure on the visitors bringing its reward by way of a bag full of opportunities,particularly in the all action second half.Plenty of dangerous Delap throw ins and some superb probing touches from Soares (and Tongue too when he came on) opened up the visitors.We are not talking route one football here,Stoke played some excellent football.Soares seems to be building a particular understanding with Fuller,which looks as though it could become increasingly profitable as the season progresses.
The winning goal,when it came in the 73rd minute,was from a Delap left side throw in.It arrowed into the visitors six yard box from where it was headed powerfully into the net by Fuller.A few minutes later Stoke could have put the result beyond doubt when a beautiful through ball from Tongue found Fuller on a diagonal run.His right foot shot beat the keeper but came back out off the base of the post.
This,above all,was a splendid team performance.The three points are particularly welcome as they lift us up to 15th spot in the table,psychologically important ahead of Saturday's home game against Arsenal.The crowd of 27,000 once again generated a fantastic atmosphere.
Arsenal...bring 'em on...
Sunday, October 26, 2008
The match set off at a fast tempo with Man City looking the more penetrative.£32million Brazilian striker Robinho showed his value to his team,netting in the 14th minute, from Evans pass
Stoke, however did not look out of their depth,coming into the game increasingly as the half progressed.Ricardo Fuller (pic) had a tremendous shot turned away by the diving Hart after a defensive mistake.On 35 minutes a Soares free kick from the right was headed firmly on goal by Ryan Shawcross.Keeper Hart managed to fumble the ball away for a corner.At the close o the half a sweet Stoke passing move concluded with Sidibe putting Fuller through on goal,but unfortunately he blazed carelessly over the bar.
Robinho put the home side further ahead 2 minutes after the break,following sub Sturridge's surging run and slotted pass. On 58 minutes Sorensen finger tipped away another effort from Robinho.Stoke,again to their credit,were doing their best to get back into the game.Salif Diao put in a powerful shot from distance which was tipped over the bar by Hart.On 63 minutes Sorensen made a save from Robinho from point blank range following Wright-Phillips clever reverse pass.
Fuller then managed one of his trademark goal line wriggles,cutting the ball back to Soares who saw his shot from close in go to the wrong side of the goal post.Sidibe was replaced by sub Kitson.Fuller won a corner in the 68th minute,which saw Soares kick headed just over the bar by Kitson.On 71 minutes Sturridge again turned provider ,cutting the ball across the Stoke penalty area to the incoming Robinho,who had little trouble completing his hat-trick,placing the ball inside Sorensen's left hand post.
Three minutes later it could have got worse when Wright-Phillips was played onside by Griffin.One on one, his effort was smothered by the excellent Sorensen.As Manchester went through the motions Stoke themselves had one or two chances. Kitson had a header saved on the line,and Whelan,on for Diao,shot over the bar.Right at the death there was still time for Man City to add to their tally,but Ireland,in on goal and with only the keeper to beat,put the ball over the bar.
So on to next week with Sunderland then Arsenal at The Brit.....
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
A good few people have been making a lot Kitson's -as they see it - lack of effort,moving their argument on to the notion that he brings nothing to the team,and that therefore he is a waste of money.Others suggest he shows poor attitude when he is subbed.Others are hearing him booed for his trouble,but most fair minded people are hearing nothing of the sort.
Dave Kitson at £5.5million is an expensive (and given his record) valuable asset for The Potters.It is in our interests to get behind the man,not undermine his confidence further,if he is to deliver the goals we know he can score at Premiership level:certainly the goals that we need to survive.
I get the impression that Kitson himself is feeling frustrated,but it would only take a goal to turn things round.But let's go back to the facts.
Yes hasn't scored yet,but the service from wide positions he might have been expecting, when he was signed, never materialised despite the club's best efforts to bring players in who could have provided that service.Tom Soares,on Sunday's evidence,could prove to be one player capable of unlocking Kitson's talent. Another,Mama Sidibe,a revelation this season (was he a scapegoat once?),has made some superbly dangerous crosses in from the wing,the best of which Kitson missed only by inches as he slid in (with Rory adding the scoring touch for our second against Spurs).
Position wise he is only 8 games in to adjusting to TP's style of play.Personally I think he has been making a pretty good job of it.There was plenty of evidence of skilful holding and link up play on Sunday,with some deft flicks and penetrating balls. Kitson it was who put Tom Soares through to draw the penalty for our first goal.
When he was subbed he was definitely less than pleased,but I saw nothing more than disappointment in his face as he left the pitch for the bench.As for blanking the manager,and not acknowledging his replacement,as somehave alleged,close study of the Sky coverage reveals Tony Pulis deeply involved in giving last moment instructions to Ricardo Fuller!!
Let's get behind the man,it makes sense.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Stoke won an eventful game against big spending Spurs.Stoke made a bright start,pressing the visitors back into their own half.On17 minutes Soares was put in on goal,only to be brought down inside the box by Bale.Bale was shown the red card.A cool Danny Higginbotham, faced with a ball which kept moving off the spot in the wind,netted confidently at the fourth attempt (19mins).
Stoke the proceeded to take their foot off the gas, and it was no real surprise when a suspiciously offside looking Bent poked the ball under Sorensen into the Stoke net to equalise.Stoke's lead had lasted just 6 minutes.
Stoke clearly responded to the Manager's halftime ministrations and livened up to boss most of the play.Lovely interplay set Sidibe free on the right.His dangerous low cross across the face of goal just eluded Kitson's dive but reached Rory Delap who joyously ran it into the net to put Stoke in the lead again.
Kitson was replaced by Ricardo Fuller,and the whole Stoke team went up a gear against the tiring Spurs.Fuller missed a penalty,hitting both posts in the process,and also hit the bar.Delap hit the bar too in an exciting finale.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Stoke fell behind to one of PeterCrouch's trademark bicycle kicks on 25 minutes,having had chances themselves as early as the 10th minute to take the lead.
To their credit The Potters got back on terms immediately after the break when Ricardo Fuller headed in.Unfortunately rather than consolidate the ball was gifted back to Portsmouth.From one opportunity Defoe hit the Stoke post, but he made no mistake with the next,putting the ball in the Stoke net from some 20 yards out.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
For us in The Seddon Stand Saturday's announcements initially seemed as though they were filtered through three socks, to be followed by a disembodied voice from a drain....before we were switched off altogether!
To a degree I share Tony Scholes disappointment....but there seemed to be a lack of urgency.
Managed to work out that the guest (in the shirt and on the pitch) was a boxer.Dissappointly I'm still not sure who the guys were who were applauded as they walked around the running track.
Click Pic To Enlarge
At the end of the Tory conference yesterday....a small demonstration from Unite.The blog item suggests that the group aren't aware of the extent to which hedge fund operators fund ALL the political parties....then in the Comments section we get dragged into it!!
Clapham Commoner said...
I have bet ten pounds Stoke City will be relegated from the premiership.
Therefore, if they are relegated, Stoke City fans should blame me.
That is - of course - if like your average leftist you can't distinguish between the messenger and the message.
October 2, 2008 10:24 AM
Clapham Common?.....Cheeky or what?
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The Potters had the misfortune to be without not so secret weapon Rory Delap,worryingly out with a damaged shoulder.His place was taken by Cresswell,otherwise the Stoke team was the one that played most of the game against Liverpool.
Early doors a dipping 25 yard shot from Ballack was tipped over the bar by Sorensen. Chelsea opened up the home defence on two or three occasions.Sorensen made a super save with his left foot when one on one with Drogba six yards out from goal,as the Chelsea forward was played in by Lampard's deft ball over the top of Stoke's defenders.
Ashley Cole and Boswinga,a modest £16million purchase,moved quickly and dangerously respectively down the left and right wings.Chelsea's first goal came from the latter as Stoke were unable to regroup defensively having ventured upfield.On 35 minutes Boswinga moved at speed down the right side,made a diagonal run toward the Stole goal.Again Lampard played a ball over the top of the retreating Stoke defenders to Boswinga's feet.His cross cum shot was helped into the net by Griffin in his desperate attempt to clear.
Stoke had a little more of the play in the second half,and retained the ball better when they had possession.Certainly they represented more of a threat on the Chelsea goal-without forcing Cech into major saves - once Fuller came on for Kitson.A mistake by Faye presented Chelsea with a shot on goal which Sorensen did brilliantly to get a hand on,deflecting the ball up onto the crossbar,and away to safety.
The second Chelsea goal(76 mins) resulted from another Stoke defensive mistake.A failed attempt by Leon Cort to control Boswinga's awkward cross in from the right saw the ball run to Anelka who hit a shot first time low to Sorensen's right and into the net.
Chelsea were altogether too sharp and skillful for Stoke to handle at times.You had the feeling that had Stoke managed to score Chelsea could have upped their game.That said....no disgrace!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
For this match Tony Pulis rested key players/survivors from Saturday's exhausting epic against Liverpool.That said Higginbotham, Lawrence, and Sidibe were in the starting lineup in front of 9,141 fans.
Stoke took the lead in the 10th minute when Vincent Pericard easily headed in from a Glen Whelan corner.The Potter's had the best of it territorially through the first half,but just on halftime Higginbotham's attentions caused Bikey to fall inside the box,with Henry netting the Royal's equaliser from the penalty spot.
On 50 minutes Carl Dickinson's corner from the left was fired in (Whelan I think) on goal.An attempted Reading clearance found its way to Mama Sidibe.His scorching left foot shot from six yards out,right of goal,arrowed into the top left corner of the visitors net.The man is becoming prolific (watch out Chelsea!).Reading equalised in the 75th minute,again through teenager Henry (who looks to be a serious talent on the way up),his shot beating Steve Simonsen from 25 yards out,entering the top left corner of the net.
Extra time was pretty even with both sides having chances to win,but not converting.In the resulting penalty shoot out The Potters triumphed 4-3 (Stoke scorers Fuller,Lawrence,Whelan, and Pericard) to go through to the 4th round for the first time since 2000-2001 season.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Gerrard had the ball in the net in the early minutes,but the effort was chalked off by Ref Marriner.For the remainder of the half Liverpool were restricted to long range efforts.
The second half offered much more of the same with the spirited Stoke defence taking a battering,but keeping their goal in tact.Clearing headers,interceptions,bodies on the line,and Sorensen having a commanding game in goal,although interestingly having relatively few direct saves to make.
That the Stoke fans outsang the Anfield faithful for much of the game....says it all.Stoke frustrated the home team and fans alike.
A magnificent team effort....so proud to be associated with The Mighty Potters! Goarrrn Stoke
Stoke: Sorensen ,Griffin ,Abdoulaye Faye ,Sonko (Cort) ,Higginbotham ,Lawrence (Cresswell) ,Olofinjana ,Diao ,Delap ,Kitson (Fuller) ,Sidibe
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Stoke looked lethargic at the beginning of the second half,and fell two goals behind from a rightside freekick which unmarked Anichebe flicked onward into the far corner of the Stoke net(51).
Stoke woke from their slumber and went looking for a goal.On 55 minutes a long Delap throw into the Everton penalty area was flapped away by keeper Howard.The ball reached midfielder Olofinjana,centrally placed in the penalty area.His fierce volley was on target,whistling unstoppably into the Everton net (55).Shortly after Ricardo Fuller was put through on goal.He rounded Yobo who fell to the ground.Fuller took the ball on,beat keeper Howard to his left,and put the ball into the net, only to find that Ref Wiley very generously in my opinion had chalked the goal off for a foul.
However the Potters were back on terms in the 63rd minute.Again it was a Delap long throw into the penalty area which caused sufficient pressure for Jagielka to head into his own net.
Everton should have had a penalty for hand ball against Leon Cort.Fortunately for Stoke the linesman advised Ref Wiley that the incident was outside the box.So just a free kick.
Everton took the lead once again in the 77th minute with a goal,which from Stoke's point of view was a poor one to concede.Cahill ran unmarked right to left across the Stoke box,managing to head the free kick from the right inside Stoke's left post.
Stoke continued to give it their all,mounting serious pressure on the Everton goal without being able to break through again.
It would be fair to say that this was a game that Stoke could easily have won,and would have if their defending had been up to normal Pulis high standards.
Friday, September 12, 2008
This fine item of apparel has been kindly donated to me by a dedicated Royals fan.Apparently Sonko made a fine stop in diving mode (arm extended presumably!)and the word, then chant, went around the 'MadStad'..."Sonko is Superman"!! The T shirts followed...
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
A live reporter at The Britannia Stadium virtually all day (as it got later, with a happy group of Stokies gathered round him),regularly kept us abreast of events ( to quote Tony Pulis recently) " at the bottom of the Premiership food chain".
The dreamers have had us buying in all sorts of players for weeks. What we got was a pretty sensible package, three players in,bringing total spend to something in the region of £20m. Sensible too you could argue (with something like £42 m coming in) because there is the wage bill to consider and maybe additional reinforcements required in January.
Early evening saw the return of former captain Danny Higginbotham seemingly happy to be back from Sunderland. Higginbotham,29, has a three year contract,the fee is undisclosed (but likely to be close to the sum Sunderland paid us for his services twelve months ago).Happy that he was wanted at a club he knows well and still in the Premiership!
The real late show saw Crystal Palace's England U 21 midfielder Tom Soares,22, travel up to Stoke for talks and a medical, with the initial £1.5m four year deal being signed and sealed just before the midnight deadline.
Although the announcement was made near midnight I was not at all clear when the four year £2m deal for Michael Tongue was completed.On Radio Stoke this morning Tony Pulis comments would suggest that things had been developing in the background on this one. 25 years old, midfielder Tongue has his best years ahead of him. When Sheffield United were in the Prem recently he certainly showed up well in their televised matches.
All three players have Premiership experience to bring to the squad.
The one's that got away? Ledley is still at Cardiff even though Stoke upped their offer to £6m.The player was clearly keen to join us but..... watch that space in January! Striker Henri Camara from Wigan was a late prospect but agreement could not be reached
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Whilst the commentary on Sky was somewhat patronising ( and their summariser a total pillock for my money...whoever he was!),MOTD was much more realistic,and what I particularly liked was that their pundits are coming round to the view that on current evidence Stoke will be no pushover for many teams...AND from Mr Lawrence,no less, Stoke are the most likely of the three promoted sides to survive!!!! Wow they're catching on.....
Saturday, August 30, 2008
The resultant free kick, centrally placed just outside the box, was beautifully struck by Alves, apparently heading wide but at the last moment curling inside the post with keeper Sorensen a spectator.Stoke played out the remaining 12 minutes or so comfortably.
The second half was dominated by Boro with Sorensen making fine saves.Downing contrived to strike a penalty against the bar after Olofinjana had fouled Alves.Against the run of play Stoke equalised when defender Hoyte turned a Lawrence cross into his own net (70).
With the pressure on, 10 man Stoke were unable to hold out, Tuncay netting the winner (84) having been played onside by sub full back Wilkinson.
A case of what might have been...11 men on the pitch throughout could well have made the difference....c'est la vie....but no shame in this dogged performance.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Sonko has in the past shown himself to be somewhat uncompromising, and not a little headstrong.Most recently he was sent off last week against Plymouth, but Reading's midweek Carling Cup outing counted as his one match suspension.
I seem to recall that at the African Nations Cup he set about one of his own team's backroom staff on the touchline.Tony Pulis has shown himself well capable of handling impetuous players and bringing the very best out of them for the benefit of the club.
Other rumours suggest that Ledley from Cardiff and Walters from Ipswich could be about to join Stoke.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Tony Pulis rang the changes following the Bolton defeat,five players who started last week's match finding themselves on the subs bench today.The team had a solid look to it.
Stoke took the lead through a Lawrence penalty (30) after ref Mark Halsey judged Delap to have been fouled by Laursen.We continued to look good value for our lead for the remainder of the half,with Villa playing below par.
Manager O'Neill clearly had plenty to say during the break,with the result that Villa looked sharper and far more threatening in the second half.They deservedly equalised on 63 minutes when a well worked move set Carew free in the Stoke box to deliver with a powerful shot across keeper Sorensen into the corner of the net.
With ten minutes to go the Stoke midfield were gifted the ball by Gareth Barry..Liam Lawrence thread the ball to Ricardo Fuller who,with a deft flick,and turn accelerated away from his marker Laursen,before shooting across Friedel's despairing dive into the far corner of the net (80).A brilliant piece of individual skill this,which sent The Brit into wild celebration.
Big question...could we hold out? Quickly answered when Laursen netted (84) following a free kick routine which looked rather clumsy!
Many in the crowd were at this stage happy to settle for a point.The players clearly were not.All afternoon the Villa defence had difficulty coping with Rory Delap's long throw in to the penalty area.With his final throw in the 94th minute Stoke hit the jackpot.The ball found sub Mama Sidibe,who headed the ball on into the net,to trigger tumultuous celebration which lasted well beyond the final whistle.
Another great day to be a Stokie!!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
He has Premiership experience,but will not be able to put it to use immediately against Aston Villa on Saturday as he is recovering from knee surgery,and is still short of full match fitness.
The fee is officially undisclosed ( although the BBC reports a figure in the region of £1.3m). Maybe it's linked to appearances in some way.
Monday, August 18, 2008
+++After Stoke's opening day defeat at Bolton, bookies Paddy Power have already paid out on bets that they would be relegated this season+++
Paddy Power Pays Out On Stoke
You may have heard over the weekend that we are paying out on Stoke City for relegation this season.
Even though we’re only one game into the season the favourites for the drop didn’t exactly inspire much confidence, shipping three goals to one of The Prem’s lesser lights Bolton.
Admittedly one of Bolton’s goals was an outrageous fluke but what do you reckon? Even though every pundit and every football fan in every pub up and down the country have tipped Stoke for the drop, have we got it right or will Paddy be eating humble pie by the end of the season?
Of course, some people seem to have been particularly upset by our move. But then not everyone likes to have a bit of fun with their football. Perhaps they’re not all aware of our Silver Lining offer…
To ease the pain of Potters fans Paddy Power are offering Stoke season ticket holders a no-strings attached FREE £50 bet."
Well fancy that! It's all about publicity for PP....great advertising you might say, but will the firm's gamble pay off amongst the Stokie ST betting fraternity.... tempted by the Silver Lining or not?
My silver lining...Stoke to stay up!!
PS It would appear that as a Stoke season ticket holder you can open an account,bet your £50 on anything you like,take your winnings(if..any!),and close the account.Surely there must be a catch somewhere.
As a taster, to quote him directly..."Amazingly Stoke had the worst shot differential in the Championship, allowing 143 more efforts on goal than they attempted. The team with the worst shot differential in the Premiership (Derby) was relegated by April but somehow Stoke won promotion. How did they do it?"
His analysis of The Potters heroic promotion effort last season is quite revealing,and he links it through to our likely fortunes this season in the Premiership.
Link : Stoke City FC Prospectus
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Bolton fullback Gretar Steinsson scored the first,advancing down the right his intended cross flew over keeper Sorensen into the Stoke net.A seemingly shellshocked Stoke defence then marked up poorly at two free-kicks leaving Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander with straightforward headers for their goals.
The second half was a tighter affair,something of a spirited fightback,which culminated in Fullers goal in added on time.
A baptism of fire then and defeat against a team which the pundits expect to struggle against relegation.As many fans suspected the defence will need reinforcements.Some have already been recruited but did not play today....others will probably sign next week.
Quite a few fans have expressed disappointment that the team did not look a great deal different to the one that finished last season,criticising the manager for his team selection.Looked at a different way this is a manager who is loyal to his players,giving them every chance of making it at the top level (whether we think they are good enough or not)having got the team to where they are today.Equally having done that,he will not be slow to make changes where they are revealed to be necessary.I suspect the players know that,will respect any changes,without damaging the team spirit built up over the last two years.
Potters 2008 - 9 still very much a work in progress and certainly not disgraced!!!!
Stoke: Sorensen ,Wilkinson ,Cort ,Shawcross ,Griffin ,Delap ,Olofinjana ,Whelan ,Cresswell ,Kitson ,Sidibe
Subs: Simonsen,Lawrence,Pericard,Diao,Amdy Faye,Dickinson,
Friday, August 15, 2008
Stoke have signed the 31 year old Senegalese midfielder Amdy Faye from Charlton,the fee undisclosed.He has been training with the Stoke squad and featured in the friendly against Ossasuna.
Is the one year deal a reflection of his age or that he does not wish to tie himself in too closely with The Potters?
He was followed in by Abdoulaye Faye,30,from Newcastle United,the fee just over £2m.As I recall another big lad, he was the pick of a poor Newcastle team holding things together for them in the goaless draw cup match at the Brit in January.
Who's next to arrive with Premiership experience?
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
After the shortest of trials with the Potters the 32 year old international has signed on a 3 year deal today.It would appear that this could well mean the end of Stoke's interest in Sunderland keeper Marton Fulop.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Stoke announced this morning the signing of 6'4" midfielder Seyi Olofinjana.The 28 years old Nigerian international comes to us from Wolves.He is thought to have agreed a 4 year deal with the club at a transfer fee in the region of £3m!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Interviewed by Sky Sports Stoke Manager Tony Pulis seemed pretty pleased,said he had hoped to have one or two more signings by now, but stated his determination not to do anything which would undermine the excellent team spirit which had been built up over the past two years.
Wondered myself whether perhaps this was, in part, a coded message to Scott Carson who joined WBA yesterday.The sort of wages he was looking for, if paid,could well have unsettled other players at the Brit.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
That said as I see it the club has shown both that it will not get suckered into any auctions over player price or personal terms,and that they would not be happy to wait for players doing a 'Drogba' (ie I'll sign for you if I don't find anything better in the next couple of weeks!!)
Friday, July 11, 2008
The Everton game moves to Sunday 14th September at 1.30pm,Tottenham to Sunday19th October at 4.00pm. The Sunderland game is as scheduled 28th October,kick off 8.00pm.
Hopefully Setanta will give us some away games.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
In recent times much of what the PM, Gordon Brown, has touched has not worked out....so much so that his apparent hexing of events and prospects has seen him labelled by many as a 'Jonah'.
Yesterday he actually congratulated us on promotion....but FORTUNATELY did notgo further by wishing us well/success in the upcoming Premiership season.
Almost 10 years on you pick up the Sentinel and some doomster is predicting disaster for the coming season.Let's put things in perspective.
Perhaps these people weren't around back then when we were experiencing the real thing !!Who is that striker in the picture? None other than Bermudan Kyle Lightbourne...not exactly a prolific scorer,much mocked,but that day Man of the Match....but he didn't score !! Always threatened to but he seldom did.(A Chris Kamara acquisition, £500,000 if I remember correctly...its a good job our Tone is better at spotting the right man at the right price to do the job).
And we were in the old Division 2,albeit at that time top of the table - with 24 points in the bag from 10 games...We had some good players but they were about to leave...Thorne,Kavanagh, Siggurdson...Today we have good players coming in....believe and be patient...it will happen and soon.
Oops...nearly forgot....if we're talking real disasters...both the Vale and Crewe were above us in DIV 1 !!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Stoke's relatively successful 2006-2007 team was broken up, but there was no panic rush to acquire new players,and probably waste money in the process.We all know what happened next...an even better team emerged by stages (and within budget!!) through canny signings....and the promised land was duly reached,promotion to the Premiership, amidst much euphoria and wildly enjoyable celebration.
This time last year we were regarded as relegation fodder.Same again now from many commentators.So be it.Last year season ticket sales rose...this year they have rocketed to in excess of a magnificent 17,000.
Again Mr.Pulis is on holiday...well deserved in my opinion....but in his absence(although I'm sure the phone lines are buzzing between them)Messrs Scholes and Rudge are keeping things moving along,once again playing their cards close to their chest,especially with regard to players actually attracting our attention (rather than the media suggested shopping list,packed as it is with other people's wage expensive castoffs,has beens,failures).
I have no doubt there will be interesting developments ahead and in good time,as indeed there were last year.
So we start out at Bolton....August 16th....can't wait.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 09, 2008
Block 31 celebrates....
And Absent Friends..Almunecar Chapter...."Watch out Man U ...here come the rip roaring Potters!!"
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
And to paraphrase Peter Coates,this evening...."a BILLION people worldwide will know about US every weekend from August"!!!
SURELY NOT A BETTER TIME TO BE A STOKIE......
Monday, May 05, 2008
The whole tone of his report was disparaging.
What Mr. Nixon seems to have overlooked(or not seen the need to mention)was that (a) there were no stoppages - certainly not 4 minutes worth - in the second half (b) in any case at least 3 minutes of that had been played- how do we know?As the few fans were cleared from the pitch those of us in the centre of The Seddon Stand saw Delap ask ref Mike Dean (who had a splendid match throughout,showed excellent understanding of this crowd exhuberance,and considerable commonsense in handling it - commonsense singularly lacking in Mr.Nixon's piece)how long,Dean clearly mouthed 1 minute (which he duly played ).
In none of the reportage elsewhere has Manager Holloway expressed anything more than disappointment with his own team's inconsistency which he felt has cost them their place in the Championship.
Alan Nixon's efforts to rain on our parade are an unfortunate journalistic exercise in negativity(" the whole match a shambolic non event"...etc) and in complete contrast to the superb generosity of the reportage elsewhere.
Try These Links to NATIONAL PAPERS
Daily Telegraph Slideshow (first 7 pics)
No kidding, Stoke join the Premier League (Times Online)
No Kidding, Stoke Join The ELITE!!
Potters Wheel Turns Back To The Top Flight (Independent)
Indie Full Report Stoke City 0 Leicester City 0....more Potters Wheel...
Stoke reach Premier League as Leicester flop (Telegraph Report)
Many Happy Returns For Stoke
Stoke fans go potty after promotion but Holloway is devastated as Leicester go down
Stoke promoted to Premier League as West Brom go up as Champs (Mirror)
Stoke 0-0 Leicester (Mirror Report)
£60million Pottery Winners (Daily Express)
Happy Pulis Is A Wizard Potter (The Sun)
Pulis Expects Full Houses (Sporting Life)
Potters Promoted,Foxes Down (Sporting Life)
Check out the LINKS above left....2 good articles on the Sentinel site already...
The Oatcake Pro Board is really lively just as you'd expect...SMUDGE HAS STARTED A THREAD ENCOURAGING ALL STOKIES TO POST THEIR LEICESTER PHOTOS TO IT
RADIO STOKE have done us proud.....CLICK for Image Galleries
Click for Audio Interviews (3 of them)
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Can't write anymore at the moment....TOO EXCITED!!!!Sooooo HAPPY!
Monday, April 28, 2008
Let's be positive,what this result means however is that with the right combination of results from The Brit and Loftus Road on Sunday Stoke could go up as Champions!!!
Now we've got used to playing in front of the Sky cameras,and spurred on by a sell out 26,000 crowd I see Stoke going for the win against Leicester,replicating the fine professional ( not pretty!) performance against Colchester.We've certainly enjoyed a good run of form since the accidental rediscovery of the right team blend and balance at half time at Coventry.Our players didn't freeze in the last vital televised match against Bristol City,so expect something similar in this one on Sunday.
Given their position just above the bottom three (on goal difference!!) it looks as though Leicester will be going for the 3 points to be sure of staying up.Whether that is to our advantage remains to be seen.
GO........AAARRRRRRN Stoke.....You can do it.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Crystal Palace almost did it for us at Hull,drawing until the final few minutes,but conceding at the death.Until then Stoke looked to have booked their automatic promotion place.
So it all moves on to The Brit and the final match a week tomorrow in front of a full house.Leicester will not be easy opposition,but with everything in their own hands - needing a point to be certain - there is no reason why Stoke should not gain the promotion they richly deserve.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
If you are into omens and signs then things did not look good to start with at The Brit yesterday.A crash caused the closure of the A50 both ways.....the SKY cameras were present and we know how that has affected our performance in recent times...and - oh no - Mike Riley for referee.!Four sent off in his last visit to the Championship.Pottermouth's Battlecry totally mangled by the PA system to the point of being virtually unrecognisable.I won't go on...
Whatever, our magnificent TEAM rose brilliantly to the occasion.They bullied Bristol out of their stride, took a 2 goal lead by half time,were applauded off the pitch at the break,conceded Adebola his statuory goal at Stoke from a needless corner thus contriving to let Bristol back into the match for the last 20 minutes or so.That period had plenty of Alamo moments in which the rock that is Shawcross was prominent in helping us maintain our lead with last ditch interventions.Everyone on the edge of their seats willing the team on....25,000 in the ground and millions worldwide being richly entertained.
Stoke set a fast tempo from the start, playing the ball about well,and harrying the visitors,giving them no time to settle at all.Stoke took the lead on 14 minutes.Lawrence was fouled and from his free kick Mama Sidibe,making a difficult header look easy,powered the ball just under the bar into the net.His celebratory dance next to the corner flag was a surprisingly nimble affair.His second goal (thus doubling his tally for the season) was taken with aplomb.Playing the ball to Fuller Sidibe sped forward and clear of the defence onto Fullers flicked ball.On numerous occasions this season we have seen Ricardo himself in this position without being able to convert.Mama had no doubts at all as to what he was going to do.As keeper Basso came out he placed the ball deliberately past him along the ground into the net(36 mins).Cue delirious celebration in the stands.
The second half initially followed the pattern of the first.Stoke could and should have added to their goal tally but with Adebola's goal Bristol moved up a gear,causing us more problems ...and heart stopping moments.
The match ended with wild celebration from fans and players alike.Throughout Mike Riley had given us absolutely nothing,but hadn't wreaked his usual havoc.Automatic promotion??Given results earlier in the day this result places our fate fully in our own hands...as an exceedingly happy Denis Smith said on Radio Stoke "It's our's to throw away now..." but he didn't think we would judged on what we had just seen.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Like many other Stokies I've been enjoying Pottermouth's witty contributions to Praise and Grumble throughout the season.
Need to boost that sagging confidence? Well then do what 6,ooo Stokies have done online so far.....listen to Pottermouth's Battlecry...you will be moved to tears by the experience....so powerful is this offering that there are rumours that it will be played at The Brit on Saturday before the Bristol City match!
Link: POTTERMOUTH'S BATTLECRY
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Beefburger outside the ground £3.20p.....bap fresh maybe sometime last week (you sort of know this when you bite the front of the bap and the back edge falls off!)...not the best.Inside the ground a pie (tasty steak and kidney)/carling(500ml bottle) combo...£5.Neither matched the fare on offer on the pitch,particularly in the second half.
Coventry bossed the first half,skimming the bar not long after kick off,having one or two other chances,but finally netting through Elliot(31mins) from the penalty spot,after a desparate Stoke boot attempting to clear caught a Coventry player rather than the ball.Ameobi went off injured (replaced by Sidibe) having had no real chance to strike up an understanding with Fuller.Next to go was Griffin (40mins),who once again was being given a really hard time.He really is only a pale shadow of the player that we had last season,so much so that there is speculation that he is carrying an injury of some sort.As it turned out his replacement Shawcross put in a virtually flawless performance,partnering Cort in the centre,with Riggott moving out to fullback.To be honest Stoke's defence was rarely troubled after this change.
The second half belonged more or less entirely to Stoke.Coventry offered less and less in attack as Stoke built up real momentum.Rory Delap,stand in Captain,prompted his forwards.On 54 minutes Fuller was put through on goal in front of the Stokie supporters.Four defenders converged on him,one taking his legs.Uriah Rennie had no hesitation awarding the penalty.Fuller took it himself tucking the ball inches inside the right post with Schmeichel diving the right way.
Tony Pulis' masterstroke was to bring on Liam Lawrence for Pearson in the 67th minute.This built up the pressure on the Coventry defence,with two crosses in particular passing in front of the home goal without a Stoke forward being able to apply a finishing touch.However in the 79th minute Stoke interplay - the final telling touch again just an oh so important toe in by Mama Sidibe,to deflect the ball- put Cresswell clear in on goal.Schmeichel blocked, but the ball ran out kindly to Lawrence who had no trouble netting the winner.
The funny thing about the game was that circumstances-in the form of enforced changes - brought about a better balance in the team,plus more bite and aggression.A fine win for The Potters appreciated and wildly celebrated by the 3000 fans present.
With WBA and Watford cancelling each other out Stoke go top.WBA have a local derby match -their remaining match in hand- with Wolves on Tuesday night.
It seems ever so simple... can we win the next three games to gain automatic promotion...yes we can!
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
West Brom now head the table,a point in front of us still with a game in hand.Without the distraction of the FA Cup and on the back of some good form in the league,you have to think that they will now bag one of the automatic promotion spots.
Stoke have not really been performing, as we know they can,I think since they attracted greater media attention just a few weeks back.Remember the papers and TV were full of Liam Lawrence,the poison chalice that is Manager of the Month,and so forth.
Although I would much rather we had stayed out in front,I have a hunch that being in the position we are now might relieve a bit of the pressure,ease the nerves,and with that the results we need might follow.
There were real signs in the second half on Monday night that the goals we are so desparately missing might begin to flow again.Here's hoping!
Monday, April 07, 2008
At the pub and in the ground last night there was a real buzz of expectation ...but not a little apprehension too!As the match progressed,particularly the first half,the less phlegmatic characters in the crowd were soon very much in evidence.The team started brightly enough with strong vocal backing,but a few missed passes later coupled with the disappointing reaction from quite a few Stokies (from sheer frustration as much as anything else) had one or two players retreating into their shells.
The Manager contends that Stoke are not getting the breaks at the moment and you have to have some sympathy with that view.Had the early doors header that hit the base of the post gone in, instead of running along the goal line and away to safety, things might have been very different....
To be frank Stoke looked like a team playing get to know you much of the time,which is entirely understandable.A good few new faces have been drafted in...inevitably they need time to gel...we don't have that time unfortunately.
Palace took the lead against the run of play.Sinclair, a class act on loan from Chelsea skinned Pugh,chipped the ball across the goal mouth for Soares to head firmly into the net.Things got worse just before half time when Portugese defender Fonte netted from the edge of the penalty box.
To be fair the second half was all Stoke as they tried to salvage something from the wreckage.In particular sub Fuller and Ameobi began to torment the Palace defence,pulling it about,creating plenty of chances to score,but unable to convert.Plenty of scrambles and near misses,but nothing to show for it until Whelan's volley from the edge of the box finally defeated keeper Speroni (who had certainly ridden his luck at times!) in the 85th minute.You wondered if it was too late.To their credit Stoke mounted a frantic assault in the last five minutes,plus the five minutes of added time,but were unable to score again...so even the point that would have taken us back to the top escaped us.
Any positives from the game? Still second (will WBA do us another favour tonight?)....four games to play....Ameobi looked better as the match went on (in the first half he gave a passable impression of Gifton Noel-Williams - how many kids does he have now?)....the Ameobi Fuller pairing looked promising ( although in the closing minutes both were guilty of taking an extra touch when they should have been having a pop at goal)...certainly they are capable of unhinging lesser sides than Palace.Negatives....I fear that Griff is now a busted flush...he had a torrid time again...Pugh looked uncomfortable throughout....Pearson looks rusty,possibly still shell shocked from his Derby County experiences this season,his contribution at set plays nothing like as threatening or precise as those of the absent Liam Lawrence(groin strain).
Each game is now going to be a must win,if we are to get automatic promotion.
Crossed fingers? Cross everything!
CAN WE DO IT? YES WE CAN!!!
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Make a brew...take in the Spanish view...life's sweet!
What a difference 45 minutes can make...Stoke swizzed,Brizzle get back on track,WBA recover.......
Put all that to one side...great holiday...thanks Ken and Chris....now refreshed to get behind the lads as they take us to the promised land!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Stoke's performance was once again a reflection of a mixture of adverse circumstances.The weather,swirling wind (though less so than against Burnley) plus snow flurries,played its part in making accurate football difficult, the team lost its real attacking cutting edge with the absence through suspension of Fuller and Lawrence at the same time,and injuries during the match ( Diao early on to a hamstring problem, and Cort in the second half to a calf muscle strain) caused upset in various already new pairings both in attack and defence.
Early exchanges were even but Blackpool took the lead on 37 minutes.Cort got no real distance on his headed clearance of a right wing cross.The ball was brought down,played to Burgess,whose shot looked a comfortable save for Nash,but was deflected past the keeper and into the net by Cort.Stoke's play was somewhat disjointed and they did not really look like getting a goal back as the half closed.
A positive start to the second half with pressure brought to bear on the Blackpool goal.A left side corner from Gallagher was headed back into a ruck of players by Burgess.Cort (second from right) reacted to put the ball into the net off a Blackpool defender (47 mins).
Stoke tried really hard as the game progressed but all they had to show for it was a clearance off the Blackpool goal line .
Again on the balance of play a match Stoke could have won but didn’t! To their credit Blackpool themselves could have come away with something more than the one point .
Although they remain top Stoke will need to recapture some real form if they are not to end up in the play off pack. Hull certainly look to be a real threat at the moment and with the momentum to overhaul the Potters.A win at Sheffield Wednesday next week is imperative,but will not be easy as the home side battle to escape the relegation places.
When he came on Bothroyd showed some neat touches. One of his crosses from the right deserved a goal finish, and a long range shot brought a good save from the visiting keeper.
Still looking on the bright side, still hanging in there…and who knows WHERE WE’LL END UP? Six games to go….
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Much of this match was about referee Rob Styles showboating.It only took him 20minutes or so to get his red card out.Fortunately this time it was not one of our players dismissed,rather the recently departed Stokie John Eustace,Hornets captain for the day.His challenge on Cresswell was mistimed and high,meriting a booking rather than a sending off.
Five other names went into his book,two of which are significant for The Potters run in fixtures.Both Fuller and Shawcross have now accumulated 10 bookings and will miss the next two games.For next week's game against Blackpool they will be missing,and of course join Liam Lawrence who still has one match left of his suspension.Team selection against Blackpool could be interesting.
Stoke started with three centrebacks and three forwards,but after halftime reverted to 4-4-2.Despite Watford being reduced to 10 men Stoke were still second best and under pressure for much of the time.
A further Styles contribution was to award the home side a penalty for an innocuous ball to hand involving Andy Griffin.Stoke have Carlo Nash to thank for pulling off a save from Henderson.Given his penalty failure in another high profile goalless encounter against Bristol City the other night one would imagine a change in penalty taker is on the cards at Vicarage Road.
With both Bristol City and WBA losing,Stoke's result is useful.7 matches to go then and still all to play for....the Manager's view was that his team was nervous today.....as he said it is to be hoped that the nervousness was caused by the card happy ref rather than their position at the top!!
Friday, March 14, 2008
Tony Pulis could well push him straight into the team against Watford if Mama Sidibe is still troubled by his damaged hamstring
Vincent Pericard has moved out to Southampton on a month's loan.