STOKE CITY FC 1 BLACKBURN ROVERS 0
A very pleasant afternoon weatherwise in the Potteries,with not quite a full house at The Brit.Still over 25,000, but with a very small Blackburn contingent numbering around 500 against their allocation of 2000.
One or two changes in personnel for the Potters from last week's successful outing.Abdy Faye in for Wilko,accomplished by Huth moving to left back;Delap into midfield for Whelan;and the biggest/best surprise the return of Jermaine Pennant for Salif Diao on the right side of midfield.
Two big sides,evenly matched in most respects.The media anticipated heavy duty slugging fest did not materialise.Sure there were the aerial bombardments in both boxes with the usual thrills and spills,but both teams played some very tidy football at times.
Stoke continued their current practice of hitting the woodwork several times rather than the net,and drew excellent saves from ex-England keeper Robinson.Halftime saw the game nicely balanced at 0-0. First time this season for us!
The Potters got off to a flyer in the second half.A defensive clearance was nodded on and down by Kenwyne Jones (who gave big centreback Samba a busy afternoon,with honours just about even) to Etherington,who played the ball through Samba's legs to Walters speeding up on his right.The striker faced by the advancing Robinson finished as cool as you like slotting the ball into the right hand corner of the Blackburn net,his first goal for Stoke in the Prem.
Stoke continued to press with Etherington and Pennant prominent with there respective brands of magic to unsettle the Blackburn rearguard.Ethers had three chances,one he should have buried,the last coming from a beautiful Pennant cross.He struck the ball well,a goal looked a certainty until Robinson stuck up an arm to deflect the ball away to safety.A brilliant save in the end.
In the dying minutes Blackburn pushed Samba upfront and were able to cause one or two alarms for us,but at the final whistle the three points were ours....and a move up to a heady 7th place in the table.
It was good to see Ricardo Fuller back on the field so soon after his shoulder dislocation.Rory Delap had a better game.Dean Whitehead was just about everywhere on the pitch and had a storming game.
One word about Robinson.....no doubt about it yesterday he looked to be a keeper of the highest quality,producing some superb saves to keep his team in contention.