2016 - 2017

2016 - 2017

Friday, December 31, 2010

OH DEAR......


So some records were broken against Blackburn,and we turned up at The Brit full of festive cheer and optimism.Last  home match defeat against Blackpool a distant memory,a match we could have won 6 - 1 on chances.That would not ,could not happen again.

With Stoke though,as we have learned the hard way from the distant past,you can take nothing for granted.We should dismiss at our peril any team which looks to be a pushover,having a dismal run of form,whatever.Fulham duly arrived,this foggy damp  afternoon,unable to buy a win, manager Hughes' job under threat, and not having won away from home since the first game of  LAST season.

Within 3 minutes the visitors were a goal up,two up in 10 minutes.For the remainder of the game they offered no attacking threat,and despite Stoke's somewhat disjointed forward threat against a poor defence, held together by the magnificent Hangerland,we could have played for the rest of the day and never scored.

The first goal,Baird's first for the club, initially looked as though there might have been an element of keeper error.In fact it was such a cracking shot that Begovic had no chance,the ball striking the inside of the post on its way into the net.The second goal by Baird again, from a freekick on the edge of the box, found the bottom corner of the Stoke net going just beyond Begovic's dive.The shot was straight and true,passing the point in the defensive wall where Walters had been standing,until he ran out to challenge the kick!

For me there was a similarity between the Blackpool and Fulham games.Both teams had midfields offering more creativity than ours.Tony Pulis is a canny operator.I wonder if one of his transfer window priorities will be to strengthen in that department?

Monday, December 27, 2010



"In 39 years Venky's has gone from a small family business to Asia's largest poultry group." (Lancashire Telegraph).    Can they do for football what they have done for poultry?

New owners  Venky's Revolution at Rovers  seems to have left the locals for the most part unimpressed.Admittedly its early days but you have to wonder whether the turmoil they have created will result in a slide toward the Championship.Not only do the fans seem disenchanted,but also some  leading players.You have to wonder whether a caretaker manager for the rest of the season is a good idea,especially following Sam Allardyce,who would have been expected to guide the club to mid table respectability again.

Two years ago our away fixture was Allardyce's first game as manager,and we never really got a look in losing 3-0.Yesterday was very different indeed,no positive reaction to the new manager,no stiff examination of our resolve,and Stoke eventually emerging comfortable winners.

A largely forgettable first half quickly receded from memory as Stoke took charge of the game,taking the lead in the 51st minute.Matty Etherington -who had missed for him an easy chance from close in in the first half -whipped in a corner,which Huth ,advancing unmarked, met with a powerful header into the net,giving keeper Robinson no chance.

We had to wait until the second minute of added on time for the second goal and clincher.Subs Ricardo Fuller and Marc Wilson combined well.A Fuller ball in from the right picked out Wilson close to goal inside the penalty area.He brought the ball under control,and fired in a low shot just inside the post and to Robinson's right.

The down side....Matty Etherington limping off,and with only two days recovery time,you have to wonder whether we will see him play against Fulham.

A list of records were broken ....

       - had previously never won a match in December in the Prem
       - not won on Boxing day for 10 years
       - Wilson scored his first goal in the Prem....

We rise to 8th in the table with a respectable 24 points before the turn of the year.Be really nice if we could bag another 3 against Fulham on Tuesday!Here's hoping.

Sunday, December 12, 2010



You cannot say, as some have been ,that we did not deserve anything from this game. They claim that we failed to see off a clearly – to their eyes – inferior Blackpool team. But Blackpool  are no mugs. As we did when we were first promoted, they played to their strengths. Lots of energy, getting about the field quickly, in your faces when they lost the ball, uncompromising  in defence. These qualities, allied to the intelligent prompting and passing of Adam in midfield and the darting threat of Campbell upfront make them difficult to handle.

Whether some of our stars were below par or simply knocked out of their stride it would be difficult to say. What is certain though is that our team  did not lack determination, commitment, or effort, but our performance was  disjointed.

Crucially we created plenty of chances but were unable to take any of them. On another day we could and would have won handsomely. At both ends of the game Blackpool players blocked goal bound efforts. The first, as Stoke opened brightly, a fierce Fuller shot blocked by Taylor – Fletcher, the second, at the death as Stoke piled on the pressure to rescue a point,a Delap header hitting defender Eardley in the face as he stood on the goal line .Neither player knew much about it.

We hit the woodwork at least three times to Blackpool’s one. Kenwyne had headed opportunities from close in that he would have buried just a few weeks ago. Matty Etherington saw his beautifully taken free  kick strike the bar with keeper Kingson beaten all ends up.

The Blackpool winner was well constructed and followed more or less immediately from our failure to take a scoring chance. A typical Ricardo Fuller dribble produced a clear sight of goal. You would have bet your house on him shooting .Inexplicably he turned back into three defenders. We’ve seen him beat three men before with a mazy dribble, but this time he lost the ball. Blackpool lost no time moving the ball upfield, with Adam involved twice. The move culminated in Campbell flicking the ball past Begovic into the net for the winner, despite the attentions of Danny Collins.

Sunday, December 05, 2010



A funny game this,featuring some excellent play from both sides,both managers feeling that on another day they could have won it.I can't remember any single Stoke game having so many in offs.Both goalies must have wondered at times why they bothered.

On loan home keeper Ali Al Habsi was the first to suffer.He had covered Robert Huth's freekick from just outside the box,until a wicked deflection off the defensive wall took the ball in the opposite direction to which he was moving. Stoke's opener on 18 minutes.

Asmir Begović was similarly stranded 12 minutes later.A brisk Wigan attack down the left,a ball into the middle,which he would have had little difficulty dealing with,until Danny Collins attempted block,wrong footed the keeper,the deflection taking the ball into the empty Stoke net for the equaliser.

Within a minute Stoke took the lead for the second time with the only goal that owed nothing to chance.Kenwyne Jones did really well to keep the ball in play on the right touchline.He advanced a few yards before playing the ball through to Ricardo Fuller.The Jamaican played the ball across the Wigan six yard box,Whitehead got a foot to it,ensuring that the ball reached Etherington coming in from the left.He made no mistake notching his second goal in a week..

Almost unbelieveably Stoke were pegged back again in the 40th minute by another strange one.This time a Cleverly shot from just outside the penalty box saw Begovic moving to his left anticipating the save,only be completely beaten when the ball deflected in the opposite direction off Rory Delap into the net.

So another point toward that vital 40 and survival,and 7th in the table for a few hours at least.