Sunday, May 09, 2010
Edwin van der Sar had three saves to make.The first from Ricardo Fuller's sharp strike just before the break.The other two bringing out the best in him during the second half.First he clawed away diving Rory Delap's looping header from the near post,as it headed toward the top right corner of the net.Then he just managed to paw away Danny Pugh's curling shot from the right,when it seemed destined for the top left corner of his net.
United managed two goals in each half in their ultimately forlorn chase to retain the title.Begovic could have done better with Giggs side foot effort for the second.Otherwise he had a sound game.Stoke were undone for the first goal as the ball richocheted from player to player as if on a pinball table.Unfortunately it ended with Fletcher,almost on the goal line,an unmissable opportunity.Ten minutes into the second half another close in scramble saw Danny Higginbotham slice the ball into his own net as he attempted to clear.The fourth goal came from a cross from the left which found Park,unmarked on the right.He made no mistake with the finish.
We were not expecting to get much from this game,and we didn't.Unlike at Chelsea though we did not fold entirely.
The end of an excellent season then.With Blackburn sneaking a one goal win at Villa we drop to 11th in the table,respectable indeed.Roll on August 14th.......
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
This was an altogether happier visit to the capital for The Potters.Ten days after the Chelsea nightmare,we emerged from Craven Cottage with all three points.
Tony Pulis fielded the same side as on Saturday.We were never really at the races in attacking terms,but defended in determined fashion with two fine saves from Begovic helping keep the first half scoreless.
Stoke showed more going forward in the second half with Etherington looking dangerous.One fine cross from the left evaded both Sidibe and Fuller,with only a touch being required to convert.
In the 83rd minute Fuller broke loose down the right.Konchelsky went with him but lost his footing as the Jamaican turned sharp left.Fuller lobbed the ball further into the box,Tuncay made some sort of contact - Roy Hodgson was of the mind that he handled - attempting to shoot,the all squirted left to Matty Etherington who volleyed home majestically off the inside of the left goalpost.
Stoke saw off the mounting Fulham pressure to record the fourth away win of an excellent season,surpassing last season's points tally,and moving into the top half of the Premiership table.
Now for the Premiership decider on Sunday at Man U.....will it be in our hands?
Sunday, May 02, 2010
STOKE CITY FC 0 EVERTON 0
This was not a bore draw, far from it.Both sides played some good football.Stoke had to clear their heads after last week's hammering - they did that! Everton continued their excellent run,undefeated in 10 games I think it is - they did that.
Chances were few and far between. Everton had the ball in the net , a header from Jagielka,but this was rightly chalked off, for Anichebe's offside/in some way obstructing keeper Begovic. This was balanced up by Rory Delap's glaring miss when faced with an open goal at the other end.
Stoke had three real chances to my mind,all coming in the second half.For the first Sidibe,who had a brilliant game yesterday, took the ball down the left,played a super ball to Etherington,moving fast down the centre.His measured ball to his right put Rory Delap free on goal.With just Howard to beat - the keeper was already into a full length dive to his left - our midfielder inexplicable turned his shot outside the righthand post.
The second saw Ricardo Fuller blast the ball over the bar from the edge of the penalty area.The third featured two of the three subs, all of whom joined the fray with three minutes to go. Again the move started down the left. A perceptive pass by Tuncay set Pugh clear of the Everton defence.He reached the byline and had only to cut the ball back to Lawrence,unmarked in front of goal.Looked easy to do, and a goal for certain given Liam's accomplished finish against Hull.Sadly Pugh fluffed his pass,and it was not to be.
Stoke were up for this one.The backline,changed from last week, looked solid with Shawcross and Huth paired in the centre, Higginbotham reverting to left back ( a big improvement on Collins), and Wilkinson adding bite on the left side.
Mama earned his Man of the Match award.Ricardo gave everything,and eventually was afforded some protection from constant over physical buffeting by Ref Howard Webb.Begovic,for the most part looked assured.
So ends a very enjoyable - well most of the time anyway - home season. Oh, that match ball....it disappeared into the Everton fans.........