Tuesday, December 29, 2009
STOKE CITY FC 0 BIRMINGHAM CITY 1
When we've been around long enough we've seen it before,and now we're seeing it again!
Walking back from the ground to the car yesterday listening to 'Praise and Grumble' on Radio Stoke we had the usual collection of hysterical worriers,and the 'texting stirrers'(who its pretty evident in most cases don't go to the matches) with their sad 'Pulis Out' meme.For me all these contribute to is to undermining the club.
THEN at last a voice of SANITY !!! A caller who had been going down to Stoke matches for 60 years.He'd stood in crowds down as low as 3,000,he'd seen us lose matches at home to Chester City and the like.He'd watched as we got soundly beaten 7-0 at home by yesterday's opposition,Birmingham City.He'd enjoyed the Waddington years.
His basic message was this. One,he'd been entertained yesterday.No-one could deny the match was an exciting eventful offering.Two,we've been privileged to see first hand some class teams at the The Brit.Three,it might not last so get Real and ENJOY IT while you can and stay behind the team.
There was only one real difference between the two teams on show yesterday....LUCK!!
Much was made in the media of Birmingham's successful run.Good luck to them,but I'm pretty sure they were happy and relieved to get off the pitch with a result.
Stoke huffed and puffed,played some good football in parts,again created a bagful of chances - sufficient to have won three matches never mind just this one - but could not convert one.Ryan Shawcross had three excellent chances,the first from virtually on the goal line.Stoke found Joe Harte in formidable form.Whilst Sorensen had nothing of note to save all afternoon,Harte made three immaculate,indeed inspirational saves as Pulis later described them.
Birmingham reminded me yesterday of us last season.A real do or die attitude from their players,several times instanced by diving in to successfully block otherwise goal bound shots.
Birmingham won his match,as they have a number of others in their run,with a scruffy goal.A deflection in front of goal off Shawcross,put the ball in front of Jerome.His scuffed effort from close in just beat Sorensen seemingly trickling in at his near post.
Stoke responded magnificently to this setback,mounted serious pressure,threw the proverbial kitchen sink,but simply couldn't get the ball past Harte.Two of the saves stand out for me,a reflex effort from Etherington's powerful volley,and a full length save from Abdy Faye's superb header.
Stoke never gave up,should have had a penalty when Carr pulled Huth down,increasingly found their determined efforts pulled up by the ref,and would,if the Gods were smiling on them have recorded a much needed win.
The fans created a wonderful atmosphere yesterday....so supportive.If Stoke had performed abysmally I could perhaps understand the 'boos' at the end of the match.But they hadn't....the team had given EVERYTHING.There appears to be simple equation in some peoples'minds......WIN=CHEERS.....LOSE=BOOS.
Can't understand it myself,never will....they need to find CONSTRUCTIVE ways of dealing with their own disappointment.
This is MY team,this is OUR team....win,lose or draw we get behind them....to ensure that the DREAM continues.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Manager Tony Pulis opted for an unchanged side,recognising the excellent performance at Villa last week,and probably too the upcoming fixture at home to Birmingham on Monday.Ryan Shawcross was given more time to get over his injury,and Robert Huth, back from suspension,was on the bench.
Stoke had the first real chance of the match,a golden opportunity in the twentieth minute.Tuncay found himself one on one with goalkeeper Given.Tuncay got a powerful shot away from point blank range,which the keeper somehow managed to divert away with his knee,at the cost of an injury.
Man City took the lead seven minutes later.Livewire Tevez teased the Stoke defence before cutting the ball across the Stoke goalmouth.Robinho missed the ball altogether but Petrov,coming in from the right,finished despite Sorensen's despairing scrambling dive.
On several more occasions Tuncay and Etherington ran at the home defence without any real end product.Stoke set pieces were uniformly poor,with Whelan being the main culprit,hitting his efforts short,or low,sometimes both.Given |Stoke's size advantage,there was a strange reluctance to putting the ball high into the box.
Right on halftime Stoke conceded again.Poor marking saw Barry in the Stoke penalty area comfortably head an incoming cross toward Tevez.As he raced in he managed to get his leg high enough to get a toe to the ball,taking it just clear of Sorensen and into the net.A bad time indeed to concede again.
Things could have got worse for a despondent Stoke team immediately after the break.Robinho got through on goal,but Sorensen pulled off a save.Wilkinson injured his ankle as his last ditch tackle helped break up the move.To that point his energetic and enthusiastic performance had marked him out as Stoke's man of the match.By contrast Diao and Whelan looked well below par.
Huth came on for Wilko, Fuller for Tuncay,and Beattie for Sidibe,with both the starting strikers having become largely anonymous as the game progressed. James Beattie nearly got on the scoresheet on 71 minutes.The ball reached him to the left of Given's goal.He hit a tremendous goal bound volley,but the keeper responded with his second miraculous save of the match.Shortly after Huth headed Etherington's corner wide of the Man City goal.
Stoke had one other chance of note.With a couple of minutes to go Danny Collins'free kick into the area from the left was headed on by Fuller to Higginbotham but he put the ball wide of the goal.
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?Amazingly still in 11th place in the table,but crucially now only 4 points off the drop zone.Teams below us are finding some form.More to the point they are scoring goals,which at the moment we are not.
Given Manchester City's defensive frailty this season,it begs the question as to why we did not go for a more attack minded line up.From the evidence certainly from the Villa match the goals will return,but the situation is such that this needs to be sooner rather than later.
Three points against Birmingham is now an imperative!!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Stoke performed heroically today,playing some first class attacking football, but failed to get the point they deserved.Minus Ryan Shawcross injured,and Huth suspended,Stoke gave as good as they got,taking the game to Villa.
The strike partnership of Tuncay and Sidibe,well served by Etherington,posed plenty of problems for a Villa defence,which at the death was reduced to kicking the ball anywhere to clear its lines,as Stoke pressed hard for an equaliser.
It looked as though we had taken the lead on 32mins,when Mama Sidibe rose to head home Etherington's measured cross from the left.For reasons best known to himself ref Lee Probert decided that there had been some infringement.No goal.
It would appear that he saw a push by Mama on the Villa defender.Convenient but wrong.No less an authority than Alan Hanson indicated that Probert had been kind to Villa - a perfectly good goal in his opinion!!
(Take a look at Carew's goal - no different to Mama's effort....but Probert let it stand ,OR better still Peter Crouch's first goal ALLOWED yesterday for Spurs against Blackburn.
Crouch went through a period when refs automatically ,it seemed,disallowed his headed goals.He must have come through that phase because yesterday he was ALL OVER the Blackburn defender and the goal stood.
There is little doubt in my mind now that, for whatever reason, some sort of positive discrimination,maybe even SUBLIMINALLY, is being exercised against Stoke. BIG = ROUGH = FOUL !!
Maybe the penny will soon drop with these officials - but don't bank on it - that this season we are playing some lovely football,that maybe yesterdays disallowed goal was the result of exquisite skill rather than brute force.)
The injured Heskey had been replaced by Carew,and it was he who got the deciding goal on 62 minutes.Certainly he nudged Abdy Faye aside as he headed Young's cross home.
So we deserved something but got nothing. Our football looked good with our whirling Turkish dervish,Tuncay, posing a real threat.On another day he could have had another couple of goals.Matty Etherington is star quality,an excellent team player.Danny Higginbotham had a fine game at the heart of our defence.The highest accolade yesterday came from Martin O' Neill,who was fulsome in his praise."A good team."
So what happens next? Manchester City looked like a banker draw for us. So what do they do? Sack manager Mark Hughes and bring in a successful italian replacement with immediate effect.
Hopefully there is a Stokie god somewhere who will ensure that Pulis's magic prevails over Mancini's at Eastlands !!
Would you bet on it? Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad El Kenno.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
A sunny day at The Brit,and,its fair to say some good football on offer at times.Like Stoke Wigan are physically imposing,pretty speedy about the pitch,and skillful to boot.
Danny Collins gave way to the returning Ryan Shawcross,flu victim Lawrence was replaced by Whitehead,and Tuncay retained a place in the starting lineup.
Wigan took the lead on 15 minutes,following a needless foul conceded by Abdy Faye on the left.A powerful header from the freekick into the six yard box brought a point blank reaction save from Sorensen,but he was powerless to keep out Boyce's follow up header.
We had to wait 20 minutes for an equaliser.Stoke were playing the ball around in the Wigan half looking for an opening,when,to universal groans,Whitehead made a long pass back to keeper Sorensen.
Within seconds the moans turned to delirious cheers.Tommy Sorensen's resultant long punt upfield was headed out toward the left wing where Tuncay was unmarked.He made rapid progess toward goal before driving the ball powerfully inside the near post to the far corner of the net.
His first goal for Stoke in the Prem,and literally within seconds he could have notched another.He performed a magical overhead kick in the Wigan goalmouth.Nine times out of ten it would have brought us a goal,keeper Kirkland was nowhere,but the very tip of a defenders boot produced a deflection just over the bar.
Figueroa gave Wigan the lead once again(72mins).Stoke conceded another freekick,wide out on the left just inside the Wigan half. No-one - certainly not the Stoke players - expected what happened next.The ball was stationary,Figueroa -spotting Sorensen off his line- ran up and hit the ball hard toward the Stoke net where it duly arrived having cleared the stranded Stoke keeper.
Within two minutes Stoke were back on terms.Dean Whitehead won a corner on the right.Etherington's excellent delivery left Shawcross with, for him,a straightforward header into kirkland's net.
Excitement over? Certainly not.89 minutes gone,Melchiot drives forward,the ball reaches a clearly offside player (one of two not spotted by the linesman....despite having an unobstructed view) in the Stoke area,but as he shapes to shoot he is fouled by Huth.Yellow card and a penalty.Looked all over.
But we reckoned without Tommy Sorensen.Rodallega's effort looked tentative,and lacked power.Soro made it five penalty saves out of the last six (two for Denmark)clearing with his leg.Justice done!
Mike Dean managed to conjure 5 minutes of added time,during which the visitors went all out for a winner,with Stoke just hanging on.
One or two thoughts.Mike Dean did not have he best of games....Tuncay had a storming game throughout....Beattie got onto the pitch for the last few minutes= Pulis as good as his word !Wigan in charge in the first half Stoke in the second.Both sides had sufficient chances to have won the game.
My own view is that the crowd were much more patient again yesterday thank goodness.Maybe this reflects more realistic levels of expectation again.The fans got behind the team when it really mattered,and the destructive idiot booing was largely absent - long may it remain so,because we simply cannot afford the team to become apprehensive about playing at home.
Tuncay and Huth could tell us what that did to Middlesborough last season.
Sorensen , Huth , AbdoulayeFaye , Wilkinson , Shawcross , Delap , Etherington , Whitehead , Diao (Whelan ,62 ) , Fuller (Beattie ,83 ) , Sanli
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
From news reports in The Sentinel,the club did indeed move swiftly to defuse the situation.Everything seemed to have been patched up,until 'sources close to' Beattie indicated that there had been no apology and he was considering his future at the club.
The main concern must be the potential damage to team morale ahead of the game against Wigan at The Brit.To draw a line quickly under the matter limits that damage...if things drag on then who knows what the effects might be.
Beattie seems to be very popular with his teammates,so some polarisation of views seems inevitable.
Hopefully what we see on the pitch will be a UNITED effort,with everyone focussed on taking three points from Wigan.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
At the of last season we fielded some 'fringe'players and were seen off 4-0!!
Today the Potters put up a spirited fight at the Emirates Stadium against a superior Arsenal team without at any stage looking like getting a positive result.The big difference to last year, in the managers, view is that we look competitive now.
Certainly for this match he put out the sort of team that many have been calling for......not ultra defensive by any stretch of the imagination. Collins moved to the centre of defence in place of still injured Ryan Shawcross,Lawrence and Ethrington starting on the flanks,and interestingly Tuncay in for his first start, partnering Sidibe.
Tommy Sorensen was Stoke's Man of the Match,pulling off some excellent saves,including one from a poorly taken Fabregas penalty.
Arshavin netted the Gooners opener on 26 minutes but Stoke remained in the game until sub Ramsey added a second at 79 mins.
This fairly predictable result sees Stoke drop to 10th in the table.
STOKE: Sorensen , Huth , Abdoulaye Faye , Collins , Wilkinson , Lawrence (Fuller ,75 ) , Delap (Whelan ,81 ) , Etherington , Diao , Sidibe (Beattie ,63 ), Tuncay
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Blackburn's recent record looked pretty impressive,the team having won its previous five home matches on the spin.A tough match in prospect then,but the Potters have been up for most challenges so far this season.
Some selection surprises from our manager.He decided to keep the back four from last week.Wilko thus kept his place even though Abdy Faye was available once again.Quite right too !Tony Pulis went for Liam Lawrence, more of an all round attacking threat, in preference to Rory Delap,and also Mama Sidibe for a not fully fit Beattie.
The match itself was far from a bore draw,goalless but certainly not drab.End to end football was the order of the day,with numerous chances at both ends to have won the match.Stoke's best chances fell to Dean Whitehead,Liam Lawrence,and latterly James Beattie - playing against one of his old clubs - who managed to sky a sitter on 75 minutes after coming on as sub.Throughout Etherington and Fuller maintained a real attacking threat,which the home team struggled to cope with.
Blackburn were denied by good saves from Tommy Sorensen,hit the post,and at the death could have snatched all the points but Samba contrived to head wide.
Given Blackburn's fine home record and excellent recent form this has to be seen as a good result for Stoke,yet tinged with a little disappointment because they were unable to convert any of the numerous chances that they created.Whatever, this was a big improvement on last season's 3-0 setback on the same ground.Again an indication of the progress that we have made.....still 9th,and equal on points with Liverpool !!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Stoke scored their winner in the 74th minute.It was the culmination of a superb passing movement involving several players in swift one-twos,to set Ricardo Fuller partially free of the visitors defence.The striker still had it all to do,but he followed a little jink to the right with a beautifully struck shot around the keepers full length dive,the ball curling just inside the right hand post.
A quality strike from the Jamaican star for his first goal of the season.
The match itself was a pretty dour struggle,which exactly matched the weather.It was cold,damp,a gusty wind,with occasional flurries of rain.Certainly these were not conditions conducive to high quality football.Especially in the first half Portsmouth played the ball around with some confidence,O'Hara and Kanu generally being at the heart of their more creative moments.Stoke for their part created very little.
The only direct shot of note on either goal was a penalty kick within the first ten minutes.This was awarded by the linesman (ass ref)against Delap for a seriously high kick,which floored a Pompey forward.Boateng's penalty effort was weak and to everyone's relief was smothered by Sorensen in the Stoke goal.
The second half was somewhat livelier than the first,with Stoke taking rather more control - at times!Tony Pulis did not wait long to make his substitutions after the break bringing on Liam Lawrence and Mama Sidibe for James Beattie and Salif Diao.The moves injected some attacking life into the team,and importantly lifted the crowd.
After Fuller's goal my favourite moment was Wilkinson's storming run forward in the last few minutes.Cutting the ball this way and that - at some speed - he beat several defenders,reached the 18 yard box,and under further challenge unleashed a powerful cross shot,which a yard or so lower would have found the top corner of the visitors net.Rightly he was named Man of the Match by the sponsors.
Where does this result leave us? Back to 9th place in the Premiership table,and after 13 games on 19 points.Respectable I would say!!
Sunday, November 08, 2009
The Potters looked the business in the first half,not seriously dominant but good enough to hold onto the lead that Matt Etherington gave them in the 29th minute.He was set free by Shawcross's long punt toward the left wing.With a clear run on goal he beat keeper Duke with a fierce shot inside the near post.
The morgue like atmosphere at the KC Stadium was lifted by a most unlikely character.Remember that cracking volley last season,his only Prem goal for Stoke?Who was it? Old boy Olofinjana brought Hull back on terms - and I suspect Manager Brown back from the dead - with an exquisite curling shot from the edge of the box,which easily beat Sorensen's despairing dive.
Hull began seriously to believe.Stoke brought on Kitson and Tuncay,still looking to win the game themselves.Tuncay scampered about for precisely seven minutes.Abdy Faye stupidly got himself sent off for a second yellow card,Tuncay was pulled off,to be replaced by defender Wilkinson.The turkish international was not best pleased ( anyone lip read in Turkish?)going off down the players tunnel rather than resuming his place on the bench.
Shoring up the defence proved futile,as in stoppage time Sorensen had trouble dealing with a dipping Bullard long range effort,and the man with the incredibly long name (take a deep breath....Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink) was on hand to pop the ball in the net for the winner.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
At halftime few people in the ground would have been expecting this result.Stoke were comprensively in charge having moved serenely into a two goal lead.
The Potters played some really good football in no small part inspired a lively contribution from Etherington.He made the first goal with a speedy burst down the left,outpacing the defender,crossing powerfully into the six yard box for - it appeared initially - James Beattie to bundle the ball into the net.It was however an own goal.
From a Rory Delap throw from the right(why do people keep coming onto Radio Stoke's P&G to say that the tactic no longer works?) a flick on reached Etherington on the edge of the Wolves box.His chest down and immediate volley into the back of the net was pure class.Game over....well it should have been...but it wasn't.
Stoke got off to a most unfortunate start to the second half.Within a minute Wolves had pulled a goal back and given themselves a real lift.A doubtful freekick from the right was played into the Stoke box.Jody Craddock,clearly offside to everyone but the linesman (the right term for this character...assistant ref is a bit too grand),headed in.Craddock couldn't believe his luck when he headed home the equaliser as the Stoke defence slept in.
The second half was more Wolves than a curiously disjointed Stoke outfit,yet we had the chance to win the game.From Etherington's corner the unmarked Stoke skipper,Abdy Faye,got to the ball but only succeeded in heading over.
So one point instead of three ......but I find the booing from some people around the ground totally inexplicable.What do they want?
This was an entertaining game,good value for money,four goals,plenty of effort,no rub of the green (which we definitely had last week!),and on this particular day the win was not to be.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
A night to forget......
Stoke exited the Carling Cup in disappointing fashion at Fratton park.A goal down at halftime to Piquionne's header (17min), they conceded two soft scores in the second period to the home side after a decent Webber strike (55 min) .Piquionne (59min) was left with a tap in for his second goal of the night following Simonsen's fumble.Old stager Kanu completed the scoring (81 mins)following Glen Whelan's slip.
No real threat posed by The Potters, although Tuncay had the ball in the net from Arismendi's cross,but his effort was ruled offside.
Any pluses? Big Mama's return to action after his 7 month layoff.
Stoke: Simonsen , Griffin , Higginbotham , Cort , Lawrence (Soares 75) ,Tonge ,Whelan ,Pugh ,Arismendi ,Kitson (Sidibe ,55 ) ,Sanli (Moult ,82)
Subs not used Wedderburn,Lund,Parton,Connor,
Saturday, October 24, 2009
The pundits are agreed that Tottenham will finish in the top six this season.They have the quality players,an excellent management team,the pedigree.
By comparison Stoke are the mongrels,a collection of others misfits,who play one dimensional football.
Today's match will provide much food for thought,and may produce a revision of those ideas.It was certainly Stoke's day.Kranjar hit a post,and Beattie completed a miraculous clearance from under his own bar from a Crouch goalbound header.
Our first away win of the season at a ground where we never really coped last season, and others have been hammered out of sight this.A clean sheet against a prolific expensive forward line.A first win at White Hart Lane since the heady days of Greenhoff and Hudson nearly 40 years ago.
All this in front of England boss Fabio Capello.
Stoke,starting with two changes from last week with Wilkinson in for suspended Huth,and Simonsen a late substitute for flued up Sorensen,spent more time than was comfortable in their own last third in the early stages.Simonsen pulled off some fine saves,as the Stoke team grew in confidence,certainly defensively if not in terms of goal threat.
The second half pattern was similar with Stoke holding their own.It was not until the 86th minute that the deadlock was broken.Ricardo Fuller forced his way to the by-line.His cutback was met by substitute Glen Whelan,matching his fine effort for the Republic of Ireland recently,his right foot shot curling into the top corner of the net.
Stoke survived - despite 5 minutes of added on time- to record a momentous win.This keeps them in 9th spot.
After the match Tony Pulis was clearly a happy man.....but evidently a man with his feet firmly on the ground...already looking forward to a difficult derby match against Wolves next Saturday.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Ricado Fuller was at his impish best today.He was full of it,backheels,flicks,and just so powerful running.West Ham simply could not handle him at times.He made both goals.He may not be scoring himself at the moment,but he came really close on several occasions.
Stoke got off to a cracking start with James Beattie getting his first goal(11min) of the season from the penalty spot,after some neat football by the Potters cut through the visitors defence.Fuller received the ball,moving way from goal toward the corner flag.His backheel unhinged the Hammers defence putting Etherington in on goal.He was tripped in the area as he was about to shoot.
West Ham pressed for an equaliser,forcing Stoke back into their own half .From a corner Upson netted (34 mins).It looked as though Sorensen was coming for the ball,but then backtracked leaving the tall defender with an easy finish.
The second half saw serious attacking intent by West Ham,but with very little end product - hardly any shots on goal,although Shawcross brilliantly blocked an attempted effort by Cole when he looked odds on to score.
Stoke attacked on the break,and as the half progressed the visitors found Ricardo Fuller particularly hard to handle.He got to the by-line on a number of occasions cutting the ball across Green's goalmouth.Some of these efforts were wayward,but one was converted by the inrushing James Beattie for his second,and the winning goal(69 mins).Fuller skinned Upson on the right,shot across goal,Green at full stretch pushed the ball away only for it to be bundled into the net,along with the covering fullback.
On the upside a result we just about deserved,3 points ,and 9th spot in the Prem table,but make no mistake WHU were no mugs.On the down side we could be losing the services of Huth for a while if the FA decide that he did indeed cuff Upson.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Stoke regained their composure after the disaapointment against Man Utd,taking a welll deserved point from Everton,a marked improvement on last years effort at Goodison.
They took the lead on 50 mins when Huth rose majestically to head Etherington's corner kick into the home net.Unfortunately within 5 minutes Donny Osman scored with a long range shot to equalise.
Stoke put in a strong performance which augers well for the future.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
.......well he did today,and to my mind put on a footballing masterclass,pulling United's strings throughout the game:short passes,long passes,changing the point of attack in an instant,all with an economy of effort.
Stoke's performance was not what we have come to expect,seemed somewhat disjointed,and lacked the bite that we had shown against Chelsea two weeks earlier.It must not be forgotten that United are a leading world -never mind European - side,yet we held them for 60 minutes,albeit penned back in our own half for much of that time.
United did not really make their superiority tell until Giggs came on for Nani (55mins).On 62 minutes Fletcher fed the ball to Giggs on the left,and his simple ball across the Stoke goal provided Berbatov with a tap in for the opener.Gigg's took a rightside free kick on 77minutes,the ball being headed home by O'Shea.
Game over....that was it.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
STOKE CITY FC 4 BLACKPOOL 3
Much changed Stoke ambled through the first half shipping a goal to Vaughan(40) just before halftime.A second goal by Taylor(47) conceded just after the break finally woke the Potters from their collective slumber.
Tuncay won a penalty chance to reduce the arrears but Liam Lawrence was unable to convert(55).With Beattie and Tuncay on the pitch I wonder why he was the preferred taker.
With subs Fuller and Etherington coming on Stoke livened up getting themselves back into the game through Higginbotham's headed goal(75) from an Etherington corner from the left.Next from a Lawrence right side corner a clever goal by Etherington himself(78),running across The Seasiders keeper to flick home Tuncay's excellent header on into the six yard box.
Stoke took the lead through Fuller(80).Again Tuncay was involved taking a pass from Fuller,and despite it being behind him he poked a return ball which the striker netted with aplomb.Within a minute Burgess brought Blackpool back on terms.
In 5 minutes of added on time Griffin,Captain on the night, struck a powerful winner....4 goals in the last quarter of the game. Wow!!
Apart from the win,and progresssing to the 4th Round,the really big plus was the prominent part played by Tuncay.In addition to winning the penalty he provided assists for the Etherington and Fuller goals.Expect to see him feature against Manchester United on Saturday.The only negative, Ricardo Fuller having to limp off with a groin strain shortly before the end of the match.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Stoke were the better of the two teams in what was overall a poor game.That said they looked to be heading to all three points until Collins inexplicable foul conceded a late penalty which Taylor converted for the home side.
Ricketts seemed to be going nowhere down the edge of the penalty box,when instead of shepherding him away Collins put his studs in just below the Bolton man's knee.On another day this could well have been a sending off offence,it certainly did not look pretty.I wonder exactly what was going through Collin's mind at the time,but whatever,the nett effect was to rob the Potter's of a deserved victory.
Dave Kitson's renaissance in a Stoke shirt continues.His confident 53rd minute strike,his third in four games,looked to have set us up for another win,but c'est la vie it was not to be!
At the death heroics from the Bolton keeper Jääskeläinen - amid chaos in the Bolton six yard box caused by a Delap throw in - prevented Liam Lawrence from tapping in to restore our lead.
So 8 points from 6 games and 10th in the Prem table.....Man U next in town !
Sorensen ,Huth ,AbdoulayeFaye ,Collins ,Shawcross ,Whelan ,Delap ,Etherington (Lawrence ,63 ) ,Whitehead ,Kitson (Pugh ,78 ) ,Fuller (Beattie ,89)
Subs not used Tuncay,Higginbotham,Cort,Simonsen,
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Chelsea are without doubt a class outfit.Last season they hardly broke sweat as they cruised to a two goal win.Today was very much different as they had to work really hard for the points.Fair enough Stoke rode their luck at times,but their efforts deserved a point!
Stoke took a fortunate first half lead as Abdy Faye headed home with Cech in no man's land.Prodigious Stoke effort kept the visitors at arms length until Drogba crashed home an equaliser deep into the 8 minutes of injury time.
The second half resembled the Alamo with constant Chelsea attacks being rebuffed by a valiant Stoke rearguard.Home resistance finally cracked in the third minute of added on time,Malouda netting the all important winning goal.
Tony Pulis's master plan was undone by injuries and the sun.His Land of the Giants strategy worked well in the first half.Midfielders Delap,Whelan,and Whitehead,ahead of a backline of Wilkinson ,Huth,Faye,Shawcross,and Collins,with Kitson and Beattie up front,closed the visitors down quickly.With little space to operate in they were more than a little flustered for a period in the first half.
Injuries to Sorensen and Beattie used up two of our subs,as well as generating substantial added on time.Toward the end of the game on a very hot day with some of the players visibly wilting Chelsea were able to bring on three not inconsiderable pairs of fresh legs Essien,Anelka,and Belleti,to Stoke's one in Tuncay.So despite Stoke's defensive resistance there was that feeling that Chelsea would convert one of the many chances that were creating against the fast tiring Potters.
Major disappointment then but how far we have come in twelve months....this time pushing the prospective Prem and maybe European Champions to noticeably up their game to take the points.
Proud of you lads.....
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
But consider this.....
"Is it just me, or is the gap between the Big Four and the rest of the Premier League closing all the time? I mean obviously Man City/Tottenham/Villa/Everton etc have aspirations to get into that top four, but with clubs like Sunderland and Stoke really strengthening over the summer, is the top flight changing shape before our very eyes? "
Jonathan Stevenson,BBC Sport
Monday, August 31, 2009
They're at it again.There we are looking the other way, wondering what happened to the Collins deal, as Stoke pull another subtantial rabbit out of the hat.
Highly rated 21 years old Uruguayan international midfielder Diego Arismendi (right in pic) signs for The Mighty Potters for just shy of £3m,potentially rising to nearly £5m.
Arismendi leaves Uruguayan Champions Club Nacional.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Stoke came into this game with £14m + of talent sitting on the bench.Now it may not seem a lot when you take a look at Manchester's City and United, or at Chelsea,but this is Stoke we are talking about!How far we have come even since the beginning of last season when the team sheet substitutes list includes Robert Huth,with 20 caps for Germany,Tuncay with 50 caps for Turkey to boot!
Added to that we have a 'new' striker Kitson from Reading,another £5.5m purchase,getting a game only because of Beattie's injury. Last season's invisible man is showing distinct signs of life.
The received wisdom from the club was that Sunderland would be a tough nut to crack,and to be fair they looked a much better team than they did last year.
That said the Stoke defence ably marshalled by Abdy Faye and Ryan Shawcross restricted the powerful visiting attack to very few chances,no mean feat when you consider the size,strength, and mobility of Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones.
The whole Stoke team worked really hard,closing The Black Cats down quickly when the ball was lost .
The deciding moment arrived just before halftime, when Kitson latched onto a loose ball in the six yard box,lashing his shot skilfully,deliberately,and cleverly into the ground for it to bounce up and past defenders on the goalline into the net.His first goal in The Prem for The Potters - it is to be hoped the first of many.
Fourth in the table then, 7 points from 4 games played, represents a very solid start to the season.The squad looks stronger than last year,and with seemingly no-one resting on their laurels the prospect of further additions in the next few days.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Robert Huth,German international defender,aged 25,cost £5 million (possibly rising to £6m),and comes on a 4 year contract.Sanli Tuncay,27,Turkish international team captain,costs the same,and has signed 3 year contract.Both players leave Middlesborough.
There can be no doubt, to my mind, that these signings are a serious statement of intent by the club.Seasoned international players,with plenty of experience in the Prem they will improve the quality and depth of the Stoke squad just as we were promised.
Who's next?.....or is that being a bit too cheeky.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
True to his word Tony Pulis fielded his reserve team for this match.The exception would be Dave Kitson,included I would think to give him the chance to notch that first competitive goal for The Potters to get the monkey off his back.
The first half produced real chances for both teams with the defences looking shakey at times.Near misses but no goals.
The home team started the second half in very positive fashion,putting Stoke under pressure.Davies and Griffin replaced Sonko and Shotton very quickly to produce a little more composure in defence.
The ineffectual Tom Soares was replaced by prospect Lewis Moult,the youngster partnering Kitson up front with Cresswell dropping into midfield.Having hit the Orient wall with a freekick on 66 minutes,a minute later Kitson had a powerful shot blocked on the line.
Moult burst into the Orient area,but his squared ball was just beyond Kitson's reach.
The final 10 minutes saw Stoke coming on strong, stringing some passes together. One superb header from Kitson struck a defender on the head,rebounding onto the bar and away to safety.Stalemate at full time....now for extra time.
Within a minute Orient missed a golden opportunity from 6 yards out with the Stoke defence at sixes and sevens.
Kitson highlighted the "O's" waste when he scored from 30yards out with a half volley into the top corner (94 mins).Well deserved indeed, capping a fine performance from the ex-Reading man on the night,and reflecting his improved form and commitment this season.
Stoke played out the second period of extra time with relatively few scares.
Third round here we come......the draw....Saturday lunchtime.Could it be the Vale??
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Manager Pulis reverted to 4-4-2 formation,and left new signing Whitehead on the bench.
Not at all a memorable game.For long periods Stoke were on top without converting their superiority into goals and points.
James Beattie left the field early with what could turn out to be a serious leg injury.His replacement Kitson made a useful contribution.
Stoke's Man of the Match was Ryan Shawcross,dominating in defence,against a poor Birmingham side.
Sorensen in goal had little to do apart from one fine save in the second half.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Liverpool got an early goal to settle them down when Torres netted a Gerrard ball in from the right on 4 minutes.Defensively we coped until added on time at the end of the half when Johnson netted the second from a Gerrard corner.
Gerrard skilful cross from the right set up Kuyt (78 mins) for Liverpool's third goal.The home team continued to keep the ball well,mounted continous pressure on the Stoke goal,getting a fourth goal through sub Ngog in the final minute of added on time,giving a scoreline which Stoke's efforts did not deserve.
Tony Pulis, observing that this year Liverpool took their chances,was clearly dissappointed with the scoreline,and felt the team had created better chances themselves.The only shot of note came just after half time, with the score at 2-0, when Rory Delap's powerful effort brought a fine save from keeper Reina.
Liverpool: Reina ,Johnson ,Carragher ,Ayala ,Insua ,Mascherano ,Lucas ,Kuyt (Riera ,82 ) ,Gerrard (Voronin ,81 ) ,Benayoun ,Torres (Ngog ,84)
Subs not used: Cavalieri,Babel,Kelly,Dossena,
Stoke: Sorensen ,Wilkinson ,Shawcross ,Abdoulaye Faye ,Higginbotham ,Delap ,Whelan ,Whitehead (Pugh ,69 ) ,Etherington ,Beattie (Fuller ,62 ) ,Cresswell (Lawrence ,62)
Subs not used Simonsen,Griffin,Cort,Kitson,
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Enjoy the moment....the weekend's results see us well placed for Europe!
Particularly in the first half Stoke looked good value for the win.The 2 goal lead was deserved,as Burnley were unable to cope at two of our set pieces.Ryan Shawcross headed the first from Lawrence's excellent free kick.Jordan added to that as he turned a Delap long throw into his own net.Carlisle prevented Fuller making it three in the first half when he cleared brilliantly as the ball looped down toward the net.
Burnley came into the game rather more in the second half,but only really threatened our goal on three occasions,each time being repelled by timely last ditch blocks.
Late on sub Kitson was unlucky when his firmly hit shot beat the keeper but struck the bar.Cresswell also had a chance on the break,but his shot across tubby keeper Jensen from the left,passed outside the right post to safety.
Lots of positives from this game no doubt. A full house 27,500.A winning start and 3 points in the bag.New signing Whitehead was always involved,but the midfield looked more assured when Whelan came on as sub.Certainly it relieves a little of the pressure from the upcoming away matches.
Hopefully Shawcross will still be Stoke player as the transfer window closes in two weeks time.He had a super game,and he could well be central to us retaining a place in the Prem. Abdy Faye had a little trouble timing his tackles....maybe early season rustiness.
Liverpool away on Wednesday.Hopefully Stoke can repeat last season's Alamo epic!!
Monday, May 25, 2009
Certainly in the first half Stoke were all at sea, shipping four Arsenal goals to a solitary Fuller effort.
Two of the home team's goals had a touch of comedy about them.....James Beattie's sharp finish into his own net, would have been acclaimed if it had been atthe opposite end of the pitch. Rory Delap's header back to his keeper was woefully short,reaching Van Persie who finished with aplomb.
The other two goals: a Van Persie penalty following a Ryan Shawcross foul, and a Diaby free header.
Stoke opened with Simonsen between the posts, but at 3-0 in next to no time he was replaced by Sorensen.He went on to make a series of excellent saves,without which a cricket score threatened.
Ricardo Fuller was tripped by Denilson as he ran toward goal.The Jamaican striker netted the resultant penalty calmly.
The second half was a 0 - 0 draw.
So we finish the season on 45 points, in 12 th position in the Premership table, and with a great deal to be proud of from our first season at this exalted level.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
After a pretty forgetable first half,for the most part playing into a strong gusting wind, Stoke came alive after the break.
Increasingly the Potters pushed a useful Wigan side back into their own half. Our first goal was typical Ricardo Fuller.Twisting and turning this way and that in the visitors penalty area,with the ball seemingly attached to his foot (as usual),wrongfooting two defenders,he worked sufficient space to be able to drill the ball into the net.His 10th goal of the season(68 mins).
The second goal came eight minutes later.Lawrence's pass found Etherington free on the right.He was challenged,the ball span up in the air as the keeper came in,reaching Beattie on the far post.He headed in with his usual aplomb.
Game over..........45 points 11th place in the table one game to play....who would have believed it at the beginning of the season??!!
Saturday, May 09, 2009
A fabulous result secured by goals from last year's promotion heroes.Ricardo Fuller on target from close range,4 minutes before the break giving us a deserved lead: Liam Lawrence following up on 73 minutes with what proved to be the winner, a long range scorcher .
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Here Stoke came up against a younger faster more skilful team,which played some excellent football .Defensively they were solid,standing up well to our known threats, albeit sometimes with a degree of desperation.
For all that, in my estimation they were lucky to leave The Brit with all three points.They penetrated only twice in the whole game,the first of those occasions being Tristan's quality goal on 33 minutes from a freekick centrally placed on the edge of stoke's penalty area.The second came after the break as Stoke began to chase the game.In a one on one Thomas Sorensen came out on top.
To my mind there is now a pattern to the refereeing displays that we are seeing at The Brit. Stoke are clearly perceived as an overly physical team and are being 'reffed'as such,rightly or wrongly protection is being given to the opposition, with our players being penalised for perfectly legitimate challenges.There is a presumption that in goal mouth crowd scenes if the keeper drops the ball-which Green did few times today-then by definition they must have been fouled.
We had our chances,headers going wide,over the bar,or being cleared from the line.Shots were blocked or blazed over the bar.
So still on 39 points,with results going our way for the second week running.With another game gone we drop only one place in the table.WBA can no longer catch us.Middlesborough are eight points adrift with three games to play.Currently their goal difference is inferior to ours -26 to -17.A tall order.But we are still in reach for others........I'm sure Manager Pulis was impressing this on the players after the game,when they failed to emerge for the customary warm down.
So off to Hull........can we wrap it up there next week?
Saturday, April 25, 2009
This result was sort of expected.The match earlier in the season was one of few chances, with much of Stoke's effort foundering on defender Hangeland.Much the same happened in this game.....few chances,but with the home team converting one of theirs.
Stoke were without both regular fullbacks,Higginbotham and Wilkinson,and up front Beattie.Nevland came on as sub (20mins), scoring on 29 minutes.Having gathered the ball in midfield he passed out to Johnson on the right.He cut the ball into the penalty area for the advancing Nevland to shoot home.
Stoke had a few chances,the best of which was a fabulous strike on the run from Lawrence which went narrowly wide of Schwarzer's post with the Fulham keeper beaten.
Not to be then, on a day when WBA took out Sunderland and Hull fell to Liverpool.......hopefully tomorrow's results (and Monday night's)will be equally favourable !
Saturday, April 18, 2009
This was a fairly dour encounter between two physically imposing sides.Stoke as they had done last week created the best chances but it seemed we were drifting toward a goalless
stalemate.Then on 75 minutes Stoke broke the deadlock.
Higginbotham crossed from the left, Beattie moved the ball on to Liam Lawrence,who received the ball in the visitors penalty area shimmied aside from a defender and drove the ball along the ground at Rovers keeper Robinson.He got a hand to the ball but it still had sufficient momentum to roll over the line into the net.Cue wild celebrations .
Unlike last week there was relatively little threat from in Blackburn in the remaining minutes.They simply did not look like getting back on terms.
At the final whistle there was much joy amongst the players on the pitch, and the fans on the terraces.Pick of the celebrations was Abdy Faye's run around the four sides of the pitch,waving to the fans and kissing his club badge as he went.
Like the rest of us he was well happy....39 points, 11th in the table,and five games still to play....not bad so far for the no hopers !!!
Still not yet mathematically certain that we will stay up, so expect TP and his players to keep their collective feet on the gas. Europe? Why not.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
We took the lead when captain Abdy Faye (33mins) headed home Liam Lawrence's corner kick,to register again his former club for the second time this season.
For the next half hour or so Stoke bossed the play,culminating in a blitz on the visitors goal in the early minutes of the second half,during which keeper Harper saved from Ricardo Fuller,and both Whelan and Faye had goal bound efforts cleared off the line. Add to that two or three appeals for handball in the area,and you have some idea of how close Newcastle were to total collapse at that point.
Stoke had one other golden opportunity on 69 minutes.A fast Stoke breakout involving Fuller and Lawrence played Etherington free on goal from the left,but with Harper coming out the midfielder's shot passed just wide of the post.
Having survived the onslaught the visitors clawed their way back into the match,earning a point when sub Carroll's looping header from Duff's cross found the Stoke net (81mins).
In the end more than a little dissappointing to get only a point (how things have changed this season !!) especially as all the other results seemed to go in our favour.
Still another point closer to safety.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Stoke clearly enjoy meeting the Baggies....fielding an attacking team Stoke secured their first away win of the season...indeed their first double,in the process lifting themselves to a heady 13th place.
The best of starts came with Ricardo Fuller's opener in the second minute.His fellow striker Beattie got the other just after halftime (49mins) ,further enhancing his reputation not only among the Stoke following,but also the media.An inspired buy if ever there was one.
Luckiest escape of the season? Not buying Scott Carson!
So what do we need to stay in the Prem? From the optimists one more win with 7 games to play.The pessimists think two wins and a draw.Somewhere in between more like.
What is certain is that Tony Pulis is taking absolutely nothing for granted.Neither will our team.
UPDATE.....it just gets better, a proper newspaper report on the match in 'The Times'(here) which gets away from the lazy journo stereotype of The Mighty Potters. Hats off to Mr Rawsley for his excellent piece.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Throughout the half Stoke did not mount any real attacking challenge.
In the second half a different Stoke side emerged.They proceeded to boss the game especially after Shawcross headed home from Lawrence's corner on 53 minutes.Five minutes later The Potters could have been on terms,Higgy's header going just wide of Howard's right post.Against the run of play Everton got a third when Abdy Faye's part block on Fellani's shot wrong footed Sorensen.
On the balance of the two halves Stoke could consider themselves unlucky not to emerge with a point.
Results elsewhere see us back in the bottom three
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Reading are currently well placed for the Championship promotion run in.Though they are 4 points behind Birmingham,who are in the second automatic promotion spot, they have two games in hand.Reading have also re-signed winger Glenn Little who failed to make an impression at Portsmouth.
Promotion for Reading would mean that the Kitson move would become permanent.
Potentially a good move all round then.....things have not worked out for striker Kitson, with no goals to show for his stay in the Potteries,so there is every possibility that the Potters will recoup some of their substantial outlay come the end of the season.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
The Proud Potters continue to inch toward Premiership safety.Another cold night at The Brit,with a good snow shower before (and during) halftime.Our heroes came through a stiff challenge from a capable Bolton team,netting twice and keeping a cleansheet.The three points lifts us out of the bottom three,to a respectable 15th place in the table on 29 points.
James Beattie continues to prove a fabulously astute signing.His opener on 14 minutes being his 5th goal in 7 starts.Class by anyone's standards.Who made the goal for him? Mr Whelan !His thrust through the centre and header forward to set Beattie clear was superb.Beattie one on one with the keeper.....you just knew he was going to score....its been a long while since we have had a striker who inspires such confidence.
Bolton made a strong start to the second half.Tony Pulis countered by putting Ricardo Fuller on.We only had to wait to the 73rd minute for this to pay off.Who was the inspiration?Mr Whelan!He struck a fierce shot from the edge of the penalty box.Keeper Jaaskelainen could only parry away.The ball fell to Fuller who lashed it into the net.Game over.
Oh the clean sheet? Sorensen looked accomplished,pulling off some fine saves,one in particular from a Taylor freekick.Abdy Faye and Shawcross were magnificent in defence.Alongside them Wilkinson continues to get better and better,especially going forward.MOTD pundits drooled over the intricacy of the West Ham build up to Carlton Cole's goal at Wigan.Sadly they never showed some fine interpassing between the Stoke players leading to a Wilko/Fuller/Wilko one two,with the fullback's shot on the run going narrowly wide of Jaaskelainen's post.
You may recall that when he was a Reading player Ibrahima Sonko often got onto the score sheet.He was unlucky not to add Stoke's third on the night when his powerful header smacked against the Bolton crossbar.
A fine,mainly confident performance from the Potters.This is no longer a one dimensional team,reliant on setplays and throw ins.We are playing some good football,the manager has a much improved squad to work with,we don't look out of place in this league.
Long may it continue....GO....ARRRRN STOKE! (and.....Mr Shearer thinks we are going to stay up too!!)
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Stoke were not really at the races in this match,until the last 5 minutes.The Potters stubborn defence in the first half was finally breeched by Bulgarian international Petrov in the 45th minute.
It all looked to be over when substitute Carew doubled Villa's lead midway through the second half.
With nothing to lose Stoke came on strong in the last 15 minutes.Ryan Shawcross got one back in the 88th minute heading in James Beattie's excellent cross.One minute into added on time sub Whelan netted from 20 yards out to give the mighty Potters an unexpected but very welcome point.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
This was an interesting,if at times nervy encounter.Not a lot happened until the last 20 minutes.
Fortunes ebbed and flowed for both teams.Stoke defended solidly until they were undone by a rebound from an Abdy Faye tackle.The ball found Nugent who immediately played the ball through to Kranjcar who slipped the ball beneath Sorensen for Pompey's opener.
Almost from the restart a Stoke long ball over the top was headed backwards by Campbell under challenge from Sidibe.Johnson chested the ball down but was adjudged to have used his arm...a fortunate penalty break for the Potters.Beattie gave England keeper James no chance from the spot.....all square.
Again in very little time Stoke were ahead....this beautifully worked goal from open play the only one owing nothing to luck.Wilkinson broke down the right wing as he had done on several earlier occasions.His cross under pressure reached Pugh at the far post.He skillfully and deliberately drove the ball into the ground.It rose above the Pompey defenders for Beattie to head into the net at the far post from three yards out.
Stoke played out the remaining 10 minutes without too many frights.The ref then magically conjured 4 extra minutes...this seems almost to be a default figure nowadays.With 2 minutes gone the ball reached Hreidarsson in the Stoke box .He was not challenged,shot speculatively.The ball appeared to be going wide but deflected sadly off (the admirable)Shawcross into the net.
Two each....game over..one point instead of three.Still not getting the full rub of the green.......
Saturday, February 07, 2009
What is it with Stoke at the moment?For the second week running an act of apparent stupidity leaves the team exposed,the difference being that this week the 10 men were unable to keep Sunderland out.
The match was even until the 65th minute,nicely poised at 0 - 0,and with every likelihood that we would come away with at least a point.Unfortunately Etherington earned himself a straight red card from Ref Styles for having a go at Collins.
Thereafter it was all hands to the pumps,but with growing Sunderland pressure, Jones met Reid's measured cross to head the home side into the lead on 78 minutes.They made sure of the result by adding a second goal through sub Healy in the 93rd minute.
Stoke started the game very brightly,but were undone by some seriously bad luck.Within half an hour all three substitues had been called upon.Pugh replaced Wilkinson at fullback,Sonko came on for Shawcross,and Fuller on one of his trademark runs to the byline fell heavily,seemingly dislocating his shoulder,to be replaced by Camara.
A little good fortune saw two goal line clearances, the first by Pugh should have been a red card if the officials had seen that the player did not make the clearance as they thought with his chest.The second was a good header away by Kelly.
Shortly after Etherington's dismissal Stoke had their best chance,but Camara contrived to put the ball over a gaping net from 5 yards out.
Could have been worse....WBA,Middlesborough,and Blackburn all managed to lose too....so it's as you were at the bottom of the table.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Striker Henri Camara joins us from Wigan.Another Senegal international he will add to our goal threat.Pacey and capable of scoring spectacular goals,he is with us until the end of the season.Behind the scenes Salif Diao has been instrumental in the move.
Right back Stephen Kelly,25, an Eire international was an ever present last season in Birmingham City's Premiership season.By all accounts very effective too.His appearances for the Blues have been limited this season because of a thigh injury....just right for us then.....our manager,his medical,physio,and fitness teams having a phenomenal record of persuading the wounded to pick up their beds and walk the Stoke City walk!!
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Wow another exciting,nailbiting afternoon at The Brit.Stoke made a very tentative start to the match,but just when they looked to be increasing in confidence against an average looking Manchester City side,Rory Delap-usually, seemingly, fairly amiable and easy going - had a rush of blood.Wright-Phillips tackled Etherington in a fashion that Delap took exception to.Delap tackled the Man City player from behind,not particularly heavily,but then followed up by kicking the ball at him from close range as he lay on the ground,leaving the ref with no option to the red card.
Wright-Phillips retaliated with his own kick but as with Ronaldo (kicking out at Wilkinson in the Boxing Day match)he stayed on the pitch.
Down to 10 men with almost an hour to play,you feared the worst.But this gutsy Stoke team got stuck in,their increasing experience at playing with 10 men shining through.
Magically they even conjured a goal in the final minute of added on time at the end of the half.Whelan chipped a short ball down the left side over the Man City defence.This set Etherington free,his precision cross being met at the far post by Beattie who headed powerfully downward inside keeper Hart's post and beyond his despairing dive.The wild celebrations were to be matched by those at the end of the game.
You knew that the second half would see a siege around the Stoke goal,but though Man City had their moments(Griffin was lucky not to concede a penalty at the death as he challenged Micah Richards,Bellamy shooting narrowly over the bar)they were not able to penetrate Stoke's stubborn rearguard in which Shawcross shone,ably assisted by Abdy Fay,Wilkinson,and stand in fullback Pugh.Whelan continues to grow into his midfield role at this level,Amdy Faye gave everything to the cause,very effective despite having been floored (and concussed?) by a heavy collision of heads.Etherington and Beattie are looking shrewd buys indeed!
A fabulously determined resilient team effort,supported and clearly lifted by tremendous sustained noise from the crowd,probably the best this season.Three points well deserved,which lifted us out of the bottom three,and overall a performance which will increase confidence as we move forward to claim the 16 points we'll need to stay up.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
In front of a 36,000 full house Stoke fielded the same side that failed narrowly at Chelsea.
The Potters won several early freekicks, one leading to a Shawcross header being cleared away from the Spurs post by Bentley.Immediately Spurs broke upfield Defoe played to Aaron Lennon who scored after 8 minutes.Stoke threatened by Spurs midfield, with Modric prominent setting up plays ably abetted by Zokora
Stoke attempting some patient build up, finding Beattie and Etherington then getting up in support. Both looked a real threat.But on 20 minutes Jermain Defoe rifled home Spurs second goal of the evening as Stoke failed to press the ball. Sorensen saved brilliantly on 22 minutes palming away from Bentley,but all for nothing as Dawson scored with a free header two minutes later.
Spurs were being given too much time on the ball allowing them to pick their passes and dominate the play,Stoke for their part were uncharacteristically flat and sluggish.Shades of the disappointing performances at Bolton and Blackburn.
The omens were not good as the second half commenced with injured Wilkinson and Abdy Faye, replaced by Griffin and Sonko.Shortly after the resumption Fuller came on for Amdy Faye.
Beattie netted his first for the Potters - a class effort shooting from the edge of the penalty area, into the bottom left corner of the Spurs net - on 56 minutes following good approach play from Etherington, to give his team some hope. Spurs seemed more apprehensive for a while, before Modric slowed things down dictating the pace once again.
On 84 minutes Griffin's cross was headed wide by Cresswell from an excellent scoring chance.Thereafter the game meandered uneventfully to a conclusion.
Still no away win, and still anchored in the bottom three,but as Tony Pulis said before the match still 15 matches to go and no time to panic.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Stoke started the second half with some confidence,at times moving the ball about well.On 59 minutes the ball reached Beattie in the Chelsea half.He cleverly slipped a short ball through to put Delap in on goal.He flipped the ball over the diving Cech into the net to give Stoke the lead.
Stoke looked to be heading to 3 points when Chelsea equalised on 88 minutes through sub Belletti,and then the ultimate cruelty,even a point was snatched away when Lampard netted in the fourth minute of added on time.
A fabulous team effort,no weak links,but in the end nothing to show for it.
Monday, January 12, 2009
By all accounts Tony Pulis was unhappy that he was unable to field James Beattie in Saturday's match against table toppers Liverpool.
Today he finally got his man,as Sheffield United's high scoring striker joined The Mighty Potters on a 2½ year contract.The fee involved is £2½ million,possibly rising to £3½ million.There has been no mention of players moving in the opposite direction.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Much respect to Rafa Benitez....his comments on Friday wonderfully articulated several of my own thoughts immediately after our Boxing Day match.Again after yesterday's match his comments reflected the game that I had seen(unlike Mr.Wenger's post match thoughts a few months back).I sincerely hope he continues to prosper.
Full house at The Britannia in seriously lively mode from beginning to end of the match,a tremendous atmosphere...A freezing cold night.Nine Stoke team changes from last Saturday's debacle at Hartlepool.
Stoke were very much in Liverpool's faces after the first fifteen minutes or so (during which period Liverpool moved the ball around quickly).It rapidly became apparent that several Liverpool stars did not really fancy the close attention that they were receiving....Lucas Lieva,and Riera in particular.
Stoke had their chances to win the game.Rory Delap hit the crosbar from close in,in the first half.In the second half Dave Kitson - even with 'one leg' looking much more the player who did so much for Reading- should have done better than find the side netting when he latched onto a terrible Reina clearance kick,and also when he headed narrowly over the Liverpool bar later.
Etherington,considering he is not fully match fit and coming back from injury,had a excellent debut for The Potters.If he stays clear of further injury (and other distractions) he is going to play a major part in determining our fate come the end of the season.
Abdy Faye and Shawcross gave everything, ably abetted by Higginbotham,and Wilkinson.In front of the back four Amdy Faye sparkled,while late replacement Glenn Whelan put in some sterling work, the highlight of which was a bending free kick which passewd narrowly wide of Reina's left goalpost.
Liverpool could have snatched a late victory but that would have been unfair to Stoke.Gerrard was involved in both near misses.He clipped the Stoke bar with a free kick,and then at the death he was put through by Torres deft header,but his shot trickled against the Stoke post and away to safety, with Sorensen unable to do anything about it.
A hard earned point -against the Premiership leaders - which took us out of the bottom three,and a performance to lift the spirits ahead of a visit to ......Chelsea......no problem....
Friday, January 09, 2009
Buys us a winger, and looks for a proven striker (who can head a ball too) to go with him....James Beattie,former England player.....Premiership experience.....12 goals this season so far......what a lift that would have been ahead of tomorrow's clash with table topping Liverpool....unfortunately some small detail seems to have got in the way,and its not to be.... for now anyway.
(Link busy when I tested it....but it does work!)
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Kris Commons departure from Stoke was far from happy but no-one disputed is talent and potential.Last night he produced a superb shot from distance which gave the Manchester United keeper no chance,as derby took the first leg 1-0 at Pride Park,and were unlucky not to win by a greater margin.
Monday, January 05, 2009
Former Senegal national captain, 33 years old centre back Lamine Diatta on trial with Stoke
Another six-footer,he has won 40 caps,playing mainly in France for Lyon, St Etienne, Toulouse, and Rennes.Spent some time with Turkish side Besiktas, before moving to Newcastle.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
As far as I could see Tony Pulis made no such statement before the match at Hartlepool but it was clear from the team he fielded, and from his post match comments where his priorities (rightly) lay....securing survival in the Premiership.
What did we learn from this game? Confirmation that the squad is wafer thin and currently over stretched. We have not been scoring many goals recently,even with our best team on the pitch.Sadly any forward line led by Vincent Pericard was going to be a blunt instrument...so it proved.
Sonko again seems to be partially responsible for us conceding a goal,although to be fair to him had his powerful header gone in instead of striking the home goal post in the second minute,we could have been looking at a totally different story.
Looking on the bright side maybe we've turned the corner in terms of player availability. It was good to see both Liam Lawrence and Dave Kitson begin their return from injury.Also good that Abdy Faye,Sorensen,and Higginbotham were not risked and given time to recharge their batteries.
Then of course there's the transfer window......... and 18 cup finals to come!