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The injured Heskey had been replaced by Carew,and it was he who got the deciding goal on 62 minutes.Certainly he nudged Abdy Faye aside as he headed Young's cross home.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.