STOKE CITY FC 1 MANCHESTER CITY 1
Dick Turpin took the field tonight in the form of Alan Wiley (the bustard in blue).Incredulous Stokies marvelled at how bad he was,some wondered if he'd signed for Man City in the transfer window and they'd missed it.
He was dire.He sent Abdy Faye off ten minutes into the second half,having initially waved appeals away.Visiting players prodded him into consulting his linesman...he reversed his decision,gave the foul on Adebayor,and despatched our captain.On balance probably the right decision in the end....there had been some shirt tugging,and the linesman judged him to be the last man.
Vieira,like the ref,had a total mare of a game.He is,as they say,but a pale shadow of the former imperious player we used to see at Arsenal.He too should have had his marching orders,having kicked Whelan directly in his crown jewels on one occasion,and elbowed him in the face on another.Take your pick....but the ref chose to see neither transgression.
From the start Man City never looked like they were up for the game,making absolutely no impression on Stoke's eleven men.Faced with ten they showed more interest,and yet it was Stoke who went ahead.Whelan had several off target shots in the first half.Good practice because when the ball reached him in a central position just outside the Man City penalty box he drove it firm and low into the net to Given's right(72 mins).
Stoke's brave rearguard action repelled much severe Man City pressure,as the visitors brought on potential matchwinners Wright-Philips and Petrov,but eventually unluckily conceded a Barry goal on 85 minutes.Two yards out from the goaline the midfielder's first effort from a flick on,came back to him off the post.Despite being on the ground he managed to lift the ball over Sorensen on to the post again, but this time into the net.
Far from going into ultra defensive mode Stoke came back at their visitors,but were still seriously under the cosh.Magically five minutes of added on time were found from a half which had no stoppages of note.Amazingly it was Stoke who found the energy to get up into the opposing half,winning a throw in on the left,with very few seconds to go.
But The Highwayman in Blue had saved his best 'til last.It was at this point that he made his most telling contribution of the evening.Rory Delap's throw arrowed into the box,Shawcross rose like a salmon to head home cleanly,Given in desparation dived at our centreback (after he'd headed the ball!)and fell to the floor.
Mr Wiley decided in his infinite wisdom that some crime had committed,and had no hesitation in chalking off a perfectly good goal.Manifestly unjust,and as one or two remarked if the action had been at the other end of the ground, or at Man U or Chelsea, the goal would have stood.
Oh and I haven't even mentioned the occasion in the second half when Ricardo Fuller was felled by the combined efforts of two defenders in the Man City area.A penalty if ever I saw one....waved away once again by this less than competent official.
Three points should have been ours in all fairness.....but who said life was fair.And one last thought for Mr.Wiley......this, from the BBC,sums things up beautifully
"Mystery surrounded the decision, a fact angrily articulated by the home contingent.
But if - as seems most likely - Wiley felt there had been a foul on Given, replays are likely to persuade him otherwise."