STOKE CITY FC 1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2
This drama had two stars the first,the 'Guddy' Icelandic international striker Eidur Gudjohnsen,the second ,the baddy, referee Mike Dean, who clearly sees himself as a man with as important a part to play as the footballers in the cast! His theatrical posturings would confirm this view for anyone watching yesterday's inept performance.
The first act saw Stoke's artisans holding their more expensive - if not illustrious - visitors. A booking for Ricardo Fuller provided early concern,but he settled down to give a solid performance,which even included a spot of peacemaking in a spat between two visiting players.A booking for Dean Whitehead for a challenge on Modric was deserved ,and was to have more serious consequences.
The second act started sluggishly for our team,but the 'stars' were quickly into their stride.On 46 minutes Gudjohnsen,an early replacement for Pavlyuchenko, made his first mark.A shortish ball over the top from Crouch dropped to him.He was able to hold off Abdy Faye's challenge to rifle the ball into the net above Sorensen,whom it might be said went to ground a tad early.
Enter stage left Mike Dean.This opener was followed almost immediately by the ref's show stopper.He judged a clumsy coming together between Whitehead and Modric to be a yellow card thus sending off offence.A mighty over reaction,an exceedingly poor decision,which arguably ensured Stoke would get nothing from the match.He could not get his cards out fast enough, to wave them with a Shakespearean flourish, reminiscent of his performances at Hull sending off Abdy Faye,and Andy Wilkinson at Portsmouth.
After a short period of Spurs pressure Stoke forced their way back into contention.The excellent Etherington floated in a ball from the left, Bassong decked Man of the Match Kitson. Etherington netted the resultant penalty with aplomb (64 mins),Gomes diving left the shot going to the right.
The 10 men could even have gone ahead.Ricardo provided a tragi-comic moment, as,from a mishit shot, the ball reached him to the left of and close to goal.Sadly with every chance to score he skied his effort.Maybe its the haircut!
On 77 minutes an incisive move by Spurs provided the clincher.Assou Ekotto moved swiftly down the left,outpacing Huth.He cut the ball across the penalty area, Gudjohnsen dummied,the ball running on to the incoming Kranjcar who struck a powerful unstopable shot into the Stoke net.
To their credit Stoke never gave up.We even had a final golden opportunity to equalise,but with the net at his mercy sub Mama Sidibe lost his footing and embarassingly fell over instead of scoring.Such is life!
From their onfield celebrations you could see how much this result meant to Spurs, how relieved they were was obvious.Stoke's pressure at the end of the game had revealed a serious nervousness which with the extra man on the pitch I am sure we could have exploited.
So we are still in search of those few points to guarantee safety for another season.....