2016 - 2017

2016 - 2017

Saturday, March 27, 2010

RICARDO FULLER STEALS THE SHOW

WEST HAM UNITED 0 STOKE CITY FC 1

Stoke are now within one point of their safety target thanks to Ricardo Fuller.The match looked odds on for a noscore draw until he popped up with an individual piece of magic.

The team Tony Pulis put out was a patched up affair, but still well able to cope with a star studded Hammers outfit.Suspended Dean Whitehead was replaced by Liam Lawrence.Three squad players had been affected by a stomach bug.Defender Davies did not travel with the team to east London.Although affected Etherington lasted 67 minutes against his former teammates.The other player was Fuller himself,who was considered fit for the bench.Mama Sidibe took his place in the starting lineup.

Further enforced changes saw Abdy Faye replaced by Wilkinson  part way through the first half, and Dave Kitson by Tuncay within a minute or so of the restart.

The first half did not produce many chances,Faye heading wide for Stoke, Mido making a complete mess of an opportunity from a rebound,when he only had Sorensen to beat from six yards out.

The second half meandered along in pretty much the same fashion,neither side looking likely to land a knockout punch, until Fuller came on for Etherington in the 67th minute.

Within two minutes he had transformed the game.We can all remember his mazey (?) run against Villa,beating several defenders,looking likely to score the winner,but at the last moment scuffing his shot.



Today he delivered.A poor West Ham throw in was intercepted by Danny Collins,who lobbed a hopeful ball forward in Fuller's direction.The Jamaican was first to the ball, brought it under control,back to goal,turned,skinned defender da Costa,turned England man Upson inside out,then,imperiously,placed the ball past exposed England keeper Green into the net.

Loved his understated celebration,and as MOTD pundits concurred,a fine goal,good enough to win any match.....and so it did this one! Bar one or two minor scares Stoke comfortably saw out the remaining time.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

ICELAND (AND MIKE DEAN) REVISITS......


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.....

Sunday, March 14, 2010

WINDY VILLA ....WINDY CITY....

Well he's said it in the media, and he underlined his thoughts with his team selection yesterday.Martin O'Neill is a genuine guy,a very astute manager,and for my money a man to be listened to.In recent times,and again this week, he has been fulsome in his praise of the progress Stoke City  have made in a very short space of time in the Prem, and the sterling qualities that our management team and squad display.

His team selection reflected this yesterday.Both Carew and Heskey on for virtually the whole of the match.

The conditions,strong winds -Villa had the advantage in the first half,Stoke in the second -  were not conducive to good football,but a good football match is what we got between two extremely competitive teams.Take no notice of Gary Lineker's comment at the end of MOTD,that reducing the highlights to just five minutes didn't make the game seem any better.Rubbish!!No goals yes,as the two sides cancelled each other out,but a fine game of football nonetheless.

Plenty of half chances,with Stoke's best falling to Huth.In the 92nd minute he headed narrowly over from a cross from the left......something MOTD editors chose not to show presumably because it would not fit in with their 'forgetable game' narrative.

Starting with Sidibe and Tuncay up front,Stoke did not really come alive ,until the second half when they were replaced with Fuller and Kitson.On this occasion Tuncay took the change with bad grace,seemingly heading off to the tunnel directly,then WISELY coming back to wish Fuller well ,before shunning the manager  as he headed for the dressing room UNWISELY.Shame really because he's been looking good lately,but today Pulis was right,the Turk was looking ineffective against Villa's uncompromising defending, well marshalled by Dunne and Collins.

Rory Delap had an excellent game,don't think I've ever seen so many long throws in one game,but Villa coped as well as any team has with the threat that they presented.Glen Whelan just continues to get better.Yesterday,in addition to his normal attributes,he picked out some lovely passes,one beauty dropping in over Fuller's head to give the striker a chance on goal.Fuller has reputedly been ill..you would not have known it as he repeatedly tied Villa defenders (and himself twice) in knots.He was ably assisted by Dave Kitson,mentioned by name by the manager in his post match interview.You wouldn't be surprised to see Kitson get on from the start in the near future.

Whatever defensive combination Tony Pulis puts out we seem to be pretty solid.Good to see that Danny Collins has found a bit more form.Ryan Shawcross will no doubt be back against Spurs but that can be no reflection on the performances our players put in yesterday.

Matty Etherington again played the full 93 minutes,doing very well as he strives to get back to his pre-injury form.

So still 11th, edging closer to safety,and with a full week to get ready for Spurs,and another chance to test ourselves against a team chasing the fourth European Cup place.

Gary L ...... for those of us in the sell out crowd the match proved to be excellent ENTERTAINMENT!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

SHARE OF THE SPOILS

BURNLEY 1 STOKE CITY FC 

It was good to see Etherington back for his first start since the injury at Man City in the FA Cup.Together with Lawrence he added attacking threat for the Potters.Stoke had the best of a poor first half going in one goal up thanks to Tuncay and Rory Delap. The inevitable long throw from the left was headed on by Sidibe ,for Tuncay to head past Jensen from 5 yards. Tuncay’s fifth goal of the season….he must be close to being our leading scorer.

The second half started with Burnley looking much livelier. On 52 minutes ex -stokie Patterson lost his marker swivelled ,crossing the ball in from the right side of the box for  Nugent under challenge from Huth to head past Sorensen  for the equaliser.At this stage the momentum was clearly with the home side, but Stoke defended stoutly, as they have done on many occasions this season, and their efforts were assisted by some poor decision making by the home forwards when chances fell to them.Eagles, who looked a classy player in much of what he did, was particularly wasteful. At 62 minutes  Danny Pugh came on for Lawrence, and Kitson for Sidibe.

Tuncay bustled about to great effect, on one occasion showing great skill getting to the edge of the Burnley box cutting the ball across, but none of his team mates were following up for the inviting tap in.Moult on for Tuncay 82mins.So an industrious, energetic, and productive performance from the Turkish captain, and a full 90 mins from Matty Etherington. Right at the death he brilliantly managed to curl a shot toward goal, but unfortunately it passed just outside the left hand post.

I am pretty sure that had this game been played on the allotted date with Burnley managerless and in turmoil at the time, we would have come away with all three points. Given the games we have had to get through recently I think most of us would have settled for a point tonight.

So still 11th in the table and on 35 points. We can be certain that Mr.Pulis will keep things on the boil as he seeks certain safety.

Bring on the Villa.

Monday, March 08, 2010

NO SEMI-FINAL FOR STOKE CITY

CHELSEA 2 STOKE CITY 0

Stoke failed to reach the semi-final of the FA Cup for the first time since 1972.The first half was very much a cat and mouse affair,with Stoke largely cancelling out the home threat for the first half  hour. The opening minutes saw some pressure from Stoke with a series of Delap throws,which Chelsea defended with three centre backs, Mikel joining Terry and Alex in the role.From one throw, partially cleared  in the 12th minute, the ball reached Whitehead.His firmly hit shot brought a last ditch clearance from Mikel on the goal line.

Stoke's other chance of note fell to Tuncay.A Delap interception reached the Turk on the left.Unfortunately his first touch was not the best,allowing Alex to block,when a shot had looked on from a dangerous position.

Chelsea scored the all important opening goal taking the lead in the 34th minute.With Stoke defending the ball reached Terry to the right of goal.He layed the ball back to Lampard,whose drive from the edge of the penalty box took sufficient deflection off Mama Sidibe to defeat Sorensen's effort to save.

The second half saw more control from the home side,with the game being put beyond Stoke's reach in the 67th minute.A succession of Chelsea corners eventually saw Terry netting with a near post header.On the previous two Wilkinson had cleared the ball from immediate danger,but on this occasion the ball went into the net off him as he attempted to chest it away.Stoke's substitutions,unlike against Man City,made little impact, Kitson replacing Mama and Lawrence on for Tuncay.

Ricardo Fuller played a full part, managing his most threatening shot in the 91st minute,which Hilario saved with his feet from close range at his left post.To be fair Stoke never gave up trying,and at two goals down, AbdyFaye had two set piece headers go over the bar.You had to wonder what Ryan Shawcross might have made of the opportunities.

So on the day, The  Mighty Potters second best maybe,but always competitive.We now have to concentrate on gaining the points we need to ensure a third season in the Premiership, starting with the rearranged Burnley game on Wednesday night.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

SIR ALEX FERGUSON RETAINS HIS INTEREST IN RYAN SHAWCROSS

The happy news is that,according to his consultant in London, Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey will make a complete recovery within six months.

Pretty much the same scenario as our own Rory Delap faced,with his own double fracture on his debut against Sunderland back in 2006, although with a fraction of the media interest.

According to the Daily Mirror Sport,Sir Alex Ferguson was in touch with Ryan Shawcross over the weekend (click link below).

Here's another man who knows the player well, having him at United for 6 years.......able to bring his experience and perspective to the situation. 


Daily Mirror Link