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