2016 - 2017

2016 - 2017

Tuesday, December 27, 2011



This match was pretty much a stalemate,both sides proceeding with caution rather than adventure.Each side had their moments,moments which could have decided the match.Sharing the points was right though.

Stokes's standout moments : Robert Huth  heading over the Villa bar twice,opportunities that he might have expected to score from; Wilson heading the ball against the underside of the bar,a splendid effort which,two inches lower would have gone in,but as it was (maybe already 75% over the line)it came down onto Agbonlahor's chest,and out to safety.

For Villa Heskey headed against the outside of the Stoke goalpost,various crosses eluded defenders and strikers alike in the Stoke area, Delfouneso was put in on Sorensen  by Agbonlahor's cross from the left,but our keeper managed to get a foot on the ball,moving it away to safety,and Villa's best chance was gone.The other piece of excitement came when ,uncharacteristically given his superb form since returning to the side,Sorensen fumbled N'Zogbia's  freekick from the right of goal.Fortunately the ball fell to Shotton was on hand to effect a clearance upfield.

A workmanlike,but uninspired performance,from Stoke.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011



Stoke were set up to hold onto the point they started with....if they could.Virtually the entire first half was played out in Stoke territory.the home side created plenty of chances,numerous shots, the closest of which,up to the half hour mark,hit the angle of post and bar.

Aguero scored the inevitable opener,but as chance would have it from an offside position.Done we may have been for that goal,but there was no doubt about the second goal a few minutes later.Whitehead won the ball on the byline to left of goal.Inexplicably he tried to pass out to a teammate who was in a central positon just outside the penalty area.The ball went astray,falling to Johnson,who cracked an unstoppable shot low into the left hand corner of the net beyond  Sorensen's despairing dive.No shots,no forward momentum from Stoke through the entire 45 minutes.

We pushed out a little in the second half,without achieving any serious penetration.Manchester City added to their lead with a second goal for Aguero.He simply had to turn the ball into the net from Nasri's cross from the right.

Both sides made substitutions without any noticeable change in the shape of the match.Stoke completed the match without having registered a single shot on goal.Tommy Sorensen was busy,performing heroically throughout,saving his best effort to deny Aguero his hattrick in the 93rd minute.

Monday, December 19, 2011



Stoke rode their luck in the first half - no-one more so than Woodgate - then turned on the style in the second half to come away with all three points.

Wolves bossed the first half with most of the threat originating with Jarvis down the left side.Woodgate had a torrid time of it,first of all  earning a booking for chopping the Wolves wide man down,then conceding a penalty with a second indiscreet challenge.He was lucky to stay on the pitch.Hunt converted the chance to put Wolves in the lead.Immediately afterwards Woodgate looked exceedingly relieved to be withdrawn in favour of Pennant,with Shotton going to fullback.

From that moment on Stoke began to look more settled. Following a livener from the Manager at halftime our heroes took control of the match.Whelan prompted from the midfield, Pennant and Etherington probed down the flanks.Crouch and Walters buzzed about upfront.

We were back  on equal terms seven minutes into the half. Dynamo Walters won a somewhat fortuitous freekick outside the Wolves box, falling to Johnson's perfectly fair tackle.Huth smacked the ball powerfully goalwards, it took a deflection off Doyle in the Wolves defensive wall,sufficient to beat Henessey,giving us a deserved equaliser.

Peter Crouch led our forward line skilfully.His link up and hold up play is splendid,knitting things together,so that we are able to mount a real threat from open play.It was no surprise that he netted his 99th Premiership goal,with a close range far post header,from Etherington's pinpoint cross from the left.

Wolves huffed and puffed but could make no real impression.We are now 8th in the table with 24 points,having won four league matches in a row, another first!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011



Cast your mind back to the QPR match.We didn't play well, maybe deserved to fall behind,but even when we roused ourselves from our torpor,the referee gave us nothing,obvious penalties denied,so we took nothing from the game.What goes around comes around,we said.

Well,sure enough, it did on Sunday,and that left Spurs manager,Harry Redknapp fuming,a distinctly unhappy Harry.Spurs arrived at The Britannia Stadium on a fine winning run.For the first half they were unable to cope with us,as we chased,harried,bullied them out of their stride.Our contingent of ex-Spurs players were well to the fore.Matthew Etherington netted twice and could have had another.Peter Crouch won everything in the air,held the ball up when it was needed,prompted his teammates,and set up Etherington's first.Woodgate coped quite well with Bale and Lennon.

Tottenham simply never got to grips with us,from the off ,totally thrown by our all action approach.

Redknapp  changed things around at halftime.His substitutions and change of formation,brought about a complete change in the visitors.They played some splendid football,got a goal back,an Adebayor penalty,after Whelan was adjudged to have fouled Modric.The ball pinged around our box,Sorensen made several classy saves,last ditch blocks and deflections,all contributed to the excitment.Ryan Shawcross led a charmed life,indeed could have conceded two penalties (certainly as Redknapp saw it),first wrestling with Kaboul in the area,then clearing off the line with his elbow.Adebayor had a legitimate goal chalked off by the assistant referee.

Stoke were hanging on by their fingertips,a number of the players looking completely drained 20 minutes from the end,indeed looking as though they were running through treacle!Can't say that I've ever seen Jon Walters so tired that he was unable to chase a ball down.Ten minutes from time he still managed to chase down the left,fell over when challenged by Kaboul,the defender getting his second yellow,and a sending off.

A figure 5  was plucked from the air by the officials,by way of added on time,just to heighten the tension.

Stoke,to their credit,held on to record a magnificent result.It was a pleasure to be there to see it,though in the closing stages not easy on the nerves or the heart!

Monday, December 05, 2011



I have to admit that this result was unexpected, but all the more enjoyable for that.The last seven days have been most productive for us Potters.Six points out of six in the Premiership taking us to the much happier place that is 8th in the table,with almost half the points that we need to stay up.Plus qualifying for the next stage in the Europa Cup,with a game to spare,the future looks rosy again.Oh,and a clean sheet too.With 7 central defenders on duty,you could perhaps have predicted that.

Robert Huth provided the one highlight  of this match.Picking up where he left off last season,he showed our strikers how it should be done.Not trusting that Dean Whitehead's shot would beat keeper Howard, in the style of the world's greatest strikers he applied a deadly efficient toe poke,deflecting the ball past helpless defenders into the Everton net.Gary Lineker would have been impressed, and no doubt about it,Crouchy definitely was!

Sunday, November 27, 2011



Being at The Britannia Stadium was much better than last week in so many ways. First, we had a referee in Mark Halsey, who clearly has a well developed sense of both fairness and humour. He’s not afraid to laugh at his perfectly normal human frailties, or indeed those of his assistants. He doesn’t take himself so seriously that it affects the quality of his refereeing. He’s clearly held in high regard by the players. He let the game flow. All this on the same afternoon that last week’s dismal ref Mr.Jones produced another dismal performance at The Theatre  of Dreams, reducing the Man U faithful to near tears, as he reversed last week’s approach to penalties. Shame really he must have watched the video of  our QPR match, recognised that he failed to award us two obvious penalties, so yesterday he awarded Newcastle United a penalty that wasn’t, although – fair play to him, as they say in Wales – changing his decision on the say so of an equally inept linesman, after initially, correctly, awarding a corner.

Second, the atmosphere in the ground improved as we went along. There was tension and uncertainty amongst the crowd until we were 2 – 0 up, and even then people did not really relax until Crouch netted our third. Blackburn were not good but posed sufficient threat to keep us all on the edge of our seats at times. They are still clearly playing for manager Keane. With us  1-0 up they bossed possession at the start of the second half, making one chance in particular a minute or so after the restart, which, had it been converted could well have changed the course of the game. Rochina dribbled into our area, beating three Stoke players on the way. His clever backheel into the heart of our six yard box was completely missed by Formica, three yards out, when it looked easier to score than miss, and we feared the worst.

Third, we won, breaking the miserable run of Premiership defeats, and crucially successive home defeats. Plus we scored three goals. Rory Delap’s headed opener (27 min) came from a fine Pennant freekick from the right, following Nzonzi’s foul on Crouch. The second goal was initiated by Etherington. He scampered down the left, cutting the ball back from the byline to Walters. Super John teed up the ball for Whelan. The Irishman’s shot took two deflections on its way into Robinson’s net (57 min).Crouch  had contributed some class touches to our game, but he crowned that by netting the third goal, latching onto an excellent Wilson ball from deep, sliding his shoot skilfully under Robinson’s dive ,and into the far corner of the net.

Plenty of pluses in this performance. The defence looked to be getting itself back into some sort of shape, although there was clear disappointment amongst them that we conceded a late consolation goal (85 min) to the visitors Rochina. Etherington and Pennant are getting closer to last season’s form.Rory Delap had his best game for a long while, deservedly taking Man of the Match.

Sunday, November 20, 2011



As has been said before you have to wonder if some referees sometimes have agendas when they go into games. Mike Jones had a bad one yesterday and no mistake.

Stoke opened brightly, took a deserved lead, and could even have netted another couple early doors. Enter Mr.Jones! He was woefully inconsistent, but seemed to set about penalising Stoke for real and imagined misdemeanours, whilst letting similar offences by QPR players pass. He clearly has Jermaine Pennant down as a diver. Our player was given absolutely nothing, no protection even though he took a buffeting from the visitors, and was even felled in the box, but was told to get to his feet as the game was waved on.

The crowd ,deservedly, gave Jones severe stick, which interestingly in the second half was so intense that, clearly flustered, he produced a short run of very strange decisions in our favour.

The cherry (raspberry?)on top of his cake, though, came toward the end of the match, when, with the score at 2-3 and Stoke pressing incessantly for an equaliser, he failed to award a penalty when Huth was blatantly floored by Barton in the QPR box.

As several commentators have said, he clearly felt the need today to be seen to be strong, in the intimidating atmosphere of The Britannia Stadium........shame that balanced refereeing went out the window as he set about correcting some imagined imbalance......

The game itself was exciting enough. Stoke had plenty of chances to put the match beyond QPR’s reach before they netted their equaliser. Crouch had two stabs at the same chance.His first effort came back off keeper Kenny.In a heap on the ground the lanky striker managed to untangle his ungainly legs  sufficiently to help the ball toward the open net, but with little momentum. Clint Hill was able to clear the danger. Stoke had plenty of chances later on, but finished poorly.QPR had three chances and notched them all. The most worrying feature of the game for me was that our defence continues to leak soft goals, and the way our heroes visibly deflated when QPR equalised.

Any pluses? Jon Walters took his goal well, but looked pretty fed up with what was going on around him later on. Etherington looked the liveliest he has been since the FA Cup semi-final against Bolton. Higginbotham was back ,though he looked rusty, going missing in the build up/scoring of two QPR goals. Ricardo Fuller put in an appearance as sub after his long injury layoff. He looked sharp, getting behind the visitors defence once, but failing with his cut back across goal. Ryan Shawcross got himself on the scoresheet,hopefully the first of many....we need his goals.

Last but not least, Robert Huth gave his all, appearing in the QPR box with increasing frequency as Stoke pressed.He shot powerfully just over the bar as he came in from the left, just before being felled for the penalty that wasn’t.....well,at least according to MR.JONES !!

PS Perhaps some people should not be refereeing,but this (click link) is dreadful,and you can feel nothing but sympathy for the man.


Sunday, November 06, 2011



Stoke were a goal down within 2 minutes, following a blunder by keeper Begovic. The ball was played back to him by Whelan, and he caught it. Ref Howard Webb awarded a freekick. Instead of holding onto the ball while the Stoke defence reformed, it was released early by the keeper for Klasnic to feed Davies who took the opportunity to slip the ball into the net for the opener.

Things went from bad to worse when Begovic rushed  a clearance. The ball went out to Eagles on the Bolton left. He took a touch and drove the ball straight back into the Stoke net for Bolton’s second.Talk about giving the opposition confidence when its down....previous to this Bolton had lost 13 of the 16 matches they had played since we beat them in the FA Cup semi-final. Throughout the half Stoke once again seemed strangely lethargic.

At the beginning of the second half we livened up for a while. But inevitably, chasing the game, we left ourselves open. On 60 mins a  ball down the Bolton left was played  into Klasnic in the centre. He drove the ball home to Begovic’s left..Eagles was next in line on 72 minutes.A long ball down the centre set him free one on one with our keeper.He comfortably finished, flicking the ball over our keeper’s despairing dive. But that was not the end of it. Klasnic made it 5-0 nodding the ball from close range past Begovic into our net.

What is really worrying the ease with which Bolton turned our defence inside out today. The Woodgate and Upson pairing is not a patch on that of Shawcross Huth last season. For several matches now the solidity we’ve been used to in defence has been missing, and the general performance has been disjointed. Teams have been getting behind us,  and through us far to frequently. And to those Stokies who were beginning  to think Ryan Shawcross was NOT INdispensable, I would say think again.We definitely miss him, whether he appears to be playing well or not.

Bolton’s first home victory of the season.It had to be us didn’t it!!Wembley revenge? ...well maybe not.That was a special day!

Thursday, November 03, 2011



We’re Stokies....we know about these things.....Demba Ba was likely to catch up with us sooner or later. Unfortunately, he did it big style, notching a winning hat-trick for The Magpies! Hoffenheim were trying it on,pricing him,to us, at £9m,especially with his injury record. We were right to walk away,  but it did make it possible for others to get him at a more realistic price, and the rest, as they say, is history. He certainly worked hard in attack and defence, took his chances from open play well, plus effortlessly converting a late penalty ,which killed off any chance of us salvaging something from the match. At the £4m price that Newcastle reputedly paid, he’s a steal!

With 19 matches played already this season, I’m of the mind that our busy schedule seems to be catching up with us too. Despite careful use of the players at our disposal and our larger squad, we are still vulnerable facing so many fixtures (in a short time frame)when key men are injured, and look decidedly disjointed when square pegs are forced to cover in round holes.

So we faced a very determined hardworking Newcastle side (enjoying, it must be said, more than an even share of the luck on the night) with an in form striker,whilst losing our captain and our left back to injury, forcing further disruptive reorganisation. Our passing generally was not good. Crucially, as with Liverpool last week, the fans were virtually silent for quite lengthy periods, as they contemplated what was happening.
Wilson went off injured after Newcastle had scored their first two goals. You had to wonder whether he was fully fit to start with, and indeed whether his mind was elsewhere on the night. On 12 minutes he was slow to react to Obertan, going down the right. The winger had all the time in the world to clip in a beautiful cross which Ba was on hand to head home. On 40 minutes, again to the right of goal Best was not picked up. He had time to juggle the ball, and scuff a shot. The ball ran across goal to the incoming Ba,who poked the ball home past Begovic’s despairing dive.

To their credit Stoke maintained pressure on the Newcastle throughout the second half, creating half chances that on another day might have gone in. Hopes were raised 15 minutes from time when Ba felled Crouch in the penalty area. Walters converted the chance, but within 6 minutes Huth was (harshly some would say) adjudged to have pushed Best in our area, with Ba registering his hat-trick from the spotkick. Effectively game over at that point.

Who played well for us? Walters ran his heart out; Wilkinson was as combative as ever; Begovic made some fine saves, and timely interventions outside his area when goals looked likely; Crouch’s hold up play and distribution was first class (although there were those in the crowd who could not see it!);Woodgate looked assured on the ball for the most part; Whelan got about the pitch well.

A worry was seeing ever present Shawcross leave the pitch, nursing what seemed to be a groin injury. Hopefully it will not prove to be serious. The threat from  our wide midfielders, Pennant and Etherington, was intermittent. Both were closely marked when they had the ball, by two and sometimes three players.


Sunday, October 23, 2011



It seemed this afternoon that the old order had begun to change. From Manchester a result that made me, well, I’m not sure whether it should be happy or sad. Man U hammered 1 – 6 at home by neighbours Man City.QPR just about able to hold out for a 1 – 0 win against 9 man Chelsea, who for once faced a ref with the cojones to do the right thing.

Meanwhile life went on as always for our gallant Potters at the Arsenal. Now I had not been particularly impressed, up to now, with their new striker, Gervinho, who presents a puzzle every time I see him. He has this, to my eye, strange hair style where there seems to be no hair in a ‘v’ shape down the centre of his head. Is he prematurely balding? Is it an exaggerated parting? Is it a particularly poor quality ‘syrup’? These thoughts usually distract me from the actual quality of his play.

Today that changed. He seemed to be everywhere and making a difference. In the 27th minute he was onto a Ramsey dink over the Stoke defence in a flash to slip the ball past Begovic for the opening goal. Then in the 73rd and 82nd minutes he outpaced turning Stoke defenders on the left and on the right  to send dangerous balls into the Stoke area, for sub Van Persie to apply the goal finish. Perhaps Begovic could have done better with the last one.

Stoke for their part defended stoutly, until they seemed to tire and fade in the last 20 minutes. An excellently worked set piece goal in the 34th minute provided a deserved equaliser. Crouch won a free kick thirty yards out. Shawcross headed Whelan’s effort back across goal from the right. The ball reached Walters ,who headed back across goal to present Peter Crouch with a tap in.

So another points blank at the Emirates. Perhaps next year eh...?

Sunday, October 16, 2011



Murphy really isn't a number one favourite in Stoke.He was his usual annoying,niggling self in this game.Pushing,pulling,fouling,in the refs ear, but not in his book until late on,despite his various misdemeanors throughout.Others,on both sides,were booked for far less far sooner.

The first half was largely a stalemate,punctuated with a few bursts of of class football.Probably the best chance came just before halftime,when Pennant ran at the Fulham rearguard,played an exquisite one two with Crouch,shimmied past Hangeland,but unfortunately dinked the ball wide of  Schwarzer's left post.

The second half saw Stoke increase the pace and pressure,and Fulham show less and less ambition.Crucially Murphy's antics wound the home crowd up,and Stoke really went for it,riding the wave of noise.Fulham visibly wilted.

The last ten minutes saw Stoke secure the pointswith two fine goals.First a Pennant cross from the right was headed back by Crouch to Etherington.His shot was going wide until well placed Jon Walters stabbed the ball home.Three minutes from the end Etherington was fouled by Baird out on the left.His freekick was headed home majestically by Delap,coming in from the right.This put the result beyond doubt,the points lifting us to 7th in the Premiership table.

Our defence looked solid with Upson  and Shawcross at the centre.Begovic had virtually nothing to do,his biggest worry,watching Riise's freekick smack against the crossbar,before we scored our first goal.Pennant and Etherington looked much better than of late,though Crouch seemed a little quieter. 

Sunday, October 02, 2011


Stoke gave Swansea the edge in this game.An ill-considered Ryan Shawcross challenge conceded a penalty which was converted in the 9th minute by Sinclair.This gave the Welshmen the encouragement and confidence that they needed,as they fought for the ball,seeking to preserve their record of not having a goal scored against theme at home.

A rebound from a sloppy challenge by Woodgate six minutes from the end put Graham in on goal for his first goal for the club

In between Stoke hit the bar and a post,but crucially not the net!

Sunday, September 25, 2011



After four years of trying we finally managed a point. United started off in a fashion that suggested  that we might have had plenty to fear. Early doors Woodgate, from behind, leaned into and felled Hernandez, who was one on one with Begovic in the box, and odds on to score.Ref Walton saw nothing wrong and we breathed a huge sigh of relief. Short lived relief though, because Nani, coming in from the right, played a one two with Fletcher, shimmied past two flat footed Stoke defenders, before shooting firmly into the corner of the net to Begovic’s left.

From that point on Stoke rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in, playing some excellent football into the bargain. The second half was a revelation, with Stoke pressing toward the United goal. The spectacle of 4000 United fans stood in apprehensive silence for long periods was something we have not seen before at The Brit.

It would be fair to say that the visitors oft maligned goalie, De Gea, had more vital saves to make than Begovic. Apart from two high ball flaps, he looked a class shot stopping act, as he turned away Wilkinson’s piledriver shot  and  just managed to finger tip away Walters powerful cross shot  in the first half.  In the second half got himself in the way of a Crouch effort from point blank range, as he did ,too with Wilson’s thunderous freekick from the edge of the United penalty box.

The Stoke equaliser came from a corner won by the ever industrious Walters. Throughout the afternoon, as on Tuesday night against Tottenham, Pennant and Etherington were consistently under or over hitting their kicks from set pieces. On this occasion Ethers got one just right. Crouch stole a yard on Ferdinand rising to head the ball down to the keepers right into the net. Cue rapturous celebrations, not least by Crouch himself. His first goal for us, and apparently his first against United.

Of old we have seen the visitors sneak in for a winner. They had their chance in added on time, a ball in from the left finding Giggs coming in from the right unmarked and with the goal at his mercy. From four yards out he was hit by the Siddibe Stoke End curse, screwing his shot off to the left of goal and safety.

A proud day to be a Potter. A deserved result, from a game in which, crucially, we did not look overawed, in which we were prepared to take the game to our illustrious visitors, something we have not previously seen from a Tony Pulis side in this fixture.


Sunday, September 18, 2011



A sluggish start by our heroes led to us falling behind on 5 minutes.Poor defending of a set play saw Bramble scuff the ball into the net underneath Begovic's body.Further poor defending of a home corner,leading to a Larsson cross,which resulted in Woodgate putting through his own goal on 11 minutes,as he attempted to  stop the ball reaching Bendtner..We went 3-0 down on 30 mins .Ryan Shawcross got a leg to a Gardner shot,but it ballooned up and over Begovic into the net.Two chances of note : Crouch should have done better with a header from six yards out,and Jerome, generally off the pace today,failed with a good chance,as a Sunderland defender got a block in on his goal bound snapshot.Our best moment?A fine Wilson freekick heading for the top corner of the net was pawed away by Mignolet at full stretch.

Stoke made a very positive start to the second half but were knocked back by a fine Larsson freekick,after Whitehead dithered on ball,and conceded on the edge of the box. The midfielder curved the ball around our wall,low into the net to Begovic's left.No chance of saving that one.4-0 down on 58 minutes.Jones came on for Jerome,who had been disappointing.

Huth blocked Bendtner and was lucky to remain on the pitch given he'd already been booked.Pennant came on for Etherington,and Palacios for Delap.Generally powderpuff shooting from the Stoke forwards.Crouch lacked the sharpness to convert the chances that came his way.....Late on Jones was in on goal, took on and failed to convert the chance himself, ignoring Walters who was better placed.

Quiet afternoon for the home keeper.Performance lacking spark throughout,as we limped to our first defeat of the season.On our undefeated 10 game run we have enjoyed generous slices of luck.....today it was Sunderland's turn!

Still 5th in the table,otherwise a day to forget.

Sunday, September 11, 2011



Thrilled to bits with this result,although to secure it our fabled resilience,prodigious effort,and never say die/they shall not pass attitude,required the vital supplement of a generous helping of old fashioned good luck.

Liverpool were an entirely different propostion than when the came to The Brit last year.They were confident,spirited,pacey,and moved the ball around well at times.They had the chances to win this game many times over,but despite the evident class of many of their players they went away with nothing.

Suarez,Henderson and Adam were unable to take the chances that came their way,particularly in the second half. Pinball Time. In one 20 second burst the visitors could have scored five times.It seemed inevitable they would notch an equaliser.Henderson was played through one on one with Asmir Begovich.His first shot was saved point blank,his second effort from the rebound was pushed away by the keeper.His immediate third effort was blocked by Upson.From that Adam struck the ball goalward,Shawcross dumped on the floor by the force as he blocked the ball.Again the rebound saw Adam running in on goal,his second powerful effort being saved by our keeper this time with his feet.At the death,Suarez had a good chance but put his effort wide.

Stoke's winner came as early as the 25th minute.Jon Walters moved in on goal in the Liverpool penalty area.He was held back by Carragher,ref Clattenburg awarding the penalty immediately.As he had done at Norwich Walters grabbed the ball,unlike the Norwich penalty he made no mistake hammering the ball into the centre of the net,as Reina dived off to his right.

And the new boys?Crouch played the whole game,and made a tidy contribution to the proceedings.Matthew Upson looked assured throughout.Palacios added late reinforcement to the midfield,as we struggled against Liverpool's late effort to gain a point.

So we are still unbeaten so far this season,and find ourselves at the dizzying height of 4 th in the Premiership table.Thirty more points needed to stay up for a fifth season in the Prem!

PS1Were Liverpool unlucky with their penalty shouts? Late on Upson was involved in a close range ball to arm incident.Mr Clattenburg,notice the respect here,rightly called this one no penalty.I doubt that he even saw Rory Delap move the ball away with his hand earlier.Had he done so,there would have been no question..a certain penalty.I must remember that when what goes round comes around...to us!

PS2.The crowd chants just get better.....remember Capello advised Andy Carroll to cut down on the booze..."He's back from the pub,  He's back from the pub,......Andy Carroll, He's back from the pub !!!!" Pure magic.

Sunday, August 28, 2011



WBA really are footballing rabbits.....Stoke were second best for a good part of this game, and yet won.As the game moved inexorably toward a 0-0 stalemate  wizard Pulis played his ace card substituting  on resolute defender Ryan Shotton for incisive attacker Etherington.

Young Shotton marauded up front, caused doubt (if not struck fear)in the minds of the WBA rearguard.Keeper ex-Stokie Ben Foster contrived to present Shotton with an opportunity he could not refuse, allowing the ball to be taken from him, to be pushed into the net in the 90th minute for a winner that had looked most unlikely.

Super sub Shotton has now won two games for us in short order, this one for 3 precious Premiership points and a first win of the season,the other through pressure causing a winning og out in Croatia in the Europa Cup.

Sunday, August 21, 2011



Stoke came away from Carrow Road with a well deserved point,and should probably have taken all three.Stoke conceded a sloppy goal before halftime.A ball in from the right was headed home by Stoke old boy,Richie de Laet. 

A managerial flea in the ear produced a much more direct approach from Stoke.On 60 minutes Walters was felled on the edge of the area by Barnett.The Ipswich defender was sent off,but Walters taking the penalty kick himself,failed to convert.Stoke maintained pressure on a Norwich side that visibly wilted.

Ryan Shotton on for Woodgate injected life into the right side,linking well with Etherington,who had switched sides when Pennant left the field with a calf problem.Shotton almost produced a goal with a cross cum shot,which was pawed away by Ruddy in goal.He contributed two Delapesque throwins,one of which produced a real threat.

Three minutes into added on time Whelan produced a quality cross from the right,which Kenwyne Jones headed down wonderfully into the bottom right corner of the home goal for a well deserved equaliser.

Sunday, August 14, 2011



There was a time when Stoke would probably have lost this match.For a 20 minute period in the second half today they could well have done.Etherington and Delap had left the field injured,Chelsea brought on important subs,Anelka,Drogba,and Benayoun,and increased the pace and intensity of their game.Stoke wobbled but did not capitulate,anchored as they were by Captain Ryan Shawcross,and the immaculate and experienced positional play of Jonathan Woodgate.Able assistance was rendered by Huth,Wilson,but above all Begovic in goal who had a storming game.

The first half was Stoke's.No longer do we sit back,rather we take the game to the visitors,illustrious or not.We did not score ,but not for lack of attacking intent.Walters, Jones,Etherington,and Pennant conducted a stiff examination of the visiting back four.Alex in particular looked uncomfortable when faced with the considerable physical challenge of Kenwynne Jones.Goalie Cech had to be on his toes a number of times,faced with a series of corners, freekicks, and Rory Delap throw ins as Stoke exerted concerted pressure.

The second half belonged to Chelsea as Stoke's effort flagged.The visitors had chances,but could not convert them into goals.Stoke attacked occasionally,but for the most part had to focus on containment.

A hard earned and well deserved point,from the first of three difficult home matches.

Sunday, May 22, 2011



By rights Stoke should have been three goals up at halftime.That they were not was more or less exclusively down to a series of stops by keeper Al Habsi, a clearance or two off the line,plus a chalked off effort. Kenwyne Jones header was destined for the net,but Jon Walters applied a further touch from an offside position

Wigan looked extremely nervous as you would expect given their precarious position in the table.They played with a little more confidence in the second half,but were still pushed back by a determined Stoke outfit.Failing to find the net ourselves,we were not altogether surprised when Wigan nosed in front late on with a Rodalega header from N'Zogbia's cross.

Ref Mariner did not have the best of games and denied Stoke one if not two clear penalty shouts.

This disappointing result did not dampen the home crowd's enthusiasm,most people staying behind for the lap of honour,which brought down the curtain on an excellent season.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011



Stoke never looked likely to get anything from this game,nor,I suspect,did most of us expect them to.Five changes to the Cup Final lineup from Saturday confirmed the view that the objective was containment rather than ambition.

Two shots all night tells the same story,of a team and its supporters physically and emotionally exhausted.Manchester City by contrast had a spring in their step and played with smiles on their faces.

Tevez produced two goals of the highest quality.In the first half following a one two with Milner he drove the ball unstoppably high into Sorensen's net.A dubious freekick awarded just outside the penalty area, twenty minutes into the second half,appeared to be heading two yards wide of the righthand goal post,but in the last few yards of flight it curved into the top corner of the net.Sandwiched between those efforts Lescott headed home as Sorensen came out but failed to reach the ball.

A puzzler point of interest was that Begovic did not play,nor was he substitute keeper.

Hopefully Stoke will be able to raise their game on Sunday  against Wigan.Time will tell.

Monday, May 09, 2011



Pretty but ineffective,Arsenal passed the ball around,most of the time going nowhere.Plenty of possession but no real penetration.Then they got frustrated with their own inability to mount a real threat,which led to a remarkable statistic.Arsenal's foul count well exceeded that of our heroes.

The chants from the home crowd said it all,ramming Wenger's ill considered comments, made at earlier times, well down his throat.Now I have a feeling that deep down the Frenchman has a good sense of humour,so that when he has time to reflect he will have a chuckle to himself.Remember the comment about Stoke's game resembling rugby, well "2-0 to the rugby team"seemed a fair comment from the crowd,particularly when it was followed by a rendition of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot".

My favourite though, oft repeated each time Arsenal fouled, "Arsene Wenger....I didn't see that."

Stoke were in fine form,absorbed limited early pressure from the visitors and deservedly found the net twice before halftime: a chest in by Jones from Pennant's free kick,and a Pennant drive deflected up and over the keeper into the net.

Wenger altered the shape of his team after halftime,increasing his attacking options.Still very little impression was made on the Stoke team,despite Huth going off injured,and Kenwynne hobbling a little with an ankle problem.The only real scare was that Pennant, reacting to a bad tackle by Wilshere,got himself booked.Ref Halsey showed great commonsense,others would have dispatched the winger on a red.Pennant was subbed in his own best interest (and ours given the role people hope he will play next week at Wembley).

Late in the game a Van Persie goal dragged Arsenal back into contention......for a whole minute! Stoke went back up the pitch,Wilkinson contrived one of his trademark scuffed (but defence splitting) power shots.Jon Walters found himself with the ball,and just the keeper to beat.He made no mistake.

GAME OVER.   46 points in the bag.  8TH IN THE TABLE.


Monday, May 02, 2011



What with the Royal Wedding and being completely out of touch in London over the extended Bank Holiday weekend,I'm afraid this match passed me by.Another point gained, (tongue slightly in cheek)a win to come against  Arsenal next weekend,then its the big one....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011



If you believe what you are told then this result gives us another year in the Premier League and possibly European football too .Romping  up to 9th in the table with 42 points there would have to be a bizarre sequence of results to see us relegated (West Ham were the last to go down with that points total.).

There was absolutely no doubt Stoke wanted this one.No one epitomised that more than Man of the Match Jermaine Pennant.Kenwynne Jones set him free down the right.Pennant's superb mid height cross under pressure from two defenders was headed home by Jones from close range for the opener.

Forever probing a poor Wolves defence Pennant bagged the final  goal himself early in the second half.Walters crossed from the right,the ball found Pennant on the left side of the penalty area.He hammered a shot on goal,which Craddock attempted to block,but the ball looped up into the air, over the stranded keeper Henessey and into the net.

Sandwiched between those goals, towards the end of the first half, Ryan Shawcross netted for the first time this season.From a central position just outside the Wolves box Glen Whelan attempted one of his trademark thunderbolt low shots.He may have miscued but the ball shot left, reaching our captain six yards out.He had little trouble diverting the ball firmly into the net.

It has to be said that by the end Wolves were looking a pretty poor outfit,but still with enough points to play for to beat the drop.

Happy as we were with the outcome,there has to be real concern about Matty Etherington.He went down with what appeared to be a hamstring problem,to be stretchered off in what looked like considerable pain.His body language suggested he knew that this was a serious injury.On last night's evidence there must be real doubts that he will make the Cup Final, which would be a real pity.

So in a sense pressure off for our visit to the seaside on Saturday.Somehow,though,I think Stoke will be going for it against Blackpool....six points needed to better last season's total!

Sunday, April 24, 2011



Another point closer to safety,the safety cushion to the bottom three is still five points,another fine headed goal for Kenwynne Jones,no 8th consecutive away loss, and a first half performance that was of a high standard until we tired noticeably,against a Villa side that has been doing rather better of late.Another netbuster of a shot from Robert Huth,which Brad Friedel had all on to parry away as he did with an earlier Jones effort.Our German star has clearly developed a taste for goal scoring,I wonder if he's aiming to be the club's leading scorer come the end of the season.

Bring on the Wolves.Hopefully a good result will put our worries to bed for another season!

Monday, April 18, 2011




Pinched myself again this morning to make sure I was awake,and not just having one of those footy dreams,where Stoke win everything and Arsenal get relegated.(Been having them off and on since 1971,1972.)This result took most of the pundits by surprise.Even at halftime with The Mighty Potters 3-0 up Kevin Keegan was talking about  Bolton recovering to win 4 - 3!

Now I've always had Robbie Savage down as one of the awkward squad.True to form yesterday he was predicting a Stoke win in the face of  the unanimous view of the other experts that it would be close but it would be Bolton's day.

He ignored the attempted put downs,and didn't he have fun in the end reminding his colleagues of their predictions.Loved every minute of it,he did,and so did I.

The experts found it impossible to take the edge off this superb Stoke victory.They tried.Still talking about route one unattractive football......didn't see much of that myself yesterday.Still looking for imagined penalties,with Stoke players roughing up their cultured counterparts.....well ref Howard Webb ( what a class performance from him too) was having none of that.Then it was the line 'Bolton were poor'........Sorry but they were played out of it.....

Anyway I stopped listening and disappeared into my Stokie bubble.On the day Bolton were outclassed,by a determined team which clearly took real pleasure in proving people wrong.Etherington's sublime opening strike,Huth's scuff (looked a pretty good scuff to me),Kenwyne Jones's Caribbean cool finish,the immaculate Jon Walters first ( 'the keeper should have done better'they said....no he couldn't....a brilliant shot from distance which curled around the keeper's full length dive to pass just inside the post.....they would have been in raptures on another day if the scorer was Torres or Drogba....but today it was a misjudgement by the keeper!),Walters second a scruffy affair past demoralised Bolton defenders,but they all count the same.

5 - 0....a rout.....highest semi final score for nearly a century....Gollihocks to the pundits.....more strength to Robbie's elbow.....and he's Welsh too!

Monday, April 11, 2011



Stoke were set up for this match as many people expect them to play against Bolton in the FA Cup semi-final next week..Pennant and Etherington down the flanks providing a service to Kenwyne Jones and Walters,a midfield featuring Delap and Whelan,with Huth and Shawcross paired centrally at the back.Higginbotham's absence was covered by switching Marc Wilson to the left,to allow Andy Wilkinson to play in his customary right back position..

Following an almost habitual slow start we could have been out of it within 20 minutes,2-0 down,through Crouch and Moderic, and the home team having failed to cash in on other chances.

Then a flash of genius from ex-Spurs man Etherington,clearly determined to show what they had lost.He picked up the ball in our half on the left,motored down the wing pursued by Huddlestone,cut around the outside of him as they entered the penalty area,drew and nutmegged the keeper, before sliding the ball into the far side of the net.

Yes we then lost another softish goal to Crouch before the next helping of good news.KENWYNE SCORES....AGAIN....AT LAST!!! So pleased for him,he's clearly been trying so hard, but things have just not been happening for him.Well on this occasion Bale was dallying on the ball,not a good idea with a very determined looking Wilkinson approaching at speed.No contest.....Welshman loses ball,which breaks conveniently to Jones.Kenwyne headed directly toward goal before smacking an unstoppable shot into the top right corner of the net from twenty yards out.

So you could say, summarising the half,Stoke outplayed but very much in it.

As with Chelsea last week Stoke gathered momentum as they pushed further up the field.Jon Walters had one golden opportunity but was unable to make anything of what seemed like an open goal equalizer chance.Not sure that the ball did not go off his thigh and onto the post,with Gomez nowhere in sight.Kenwyne hit another twenty yarder,which the keeper got a hand to,plus he placed a header wide,a chance he would definitely have netted earlier in the season.

So no points,still 6 points off the drop,and a performance, in the end,which would have seen off lesser sides than Spurs.

Sunday, April 03, 2011



Chelsea are not the team they were,but they are still very very good.Loaded with skilful,clever players,they came to us on the back of a good run of form.

Stoke took the lead after 8 minutes or so....a solo effort by the ever improving and hugely influential Jon Walters.He picked up the ball on the left,headed down the touchline leaving Ruiz trailing.It looked as though Essien would get to him just inside the penalty area,but Walters wrong footed him by cutting inside.His thumping finish beat Cech at his near post,to signal an outbreak of delirium in the Stokie crowd.

Thereafter for much of the remainder of the half Stoke were penned back by the visitors.Chelsea probed but could find no way through the determined Stoke rearguard,until Anelka,in centre midfield,clipped a ball into our box.Drogba stole a yard on Danny Higginbotham,sufficient space to allow him to place an imperious header past the  helpless Begovic.

What was already an entertaining match,became a thriller in the second half.Stoke made a shed load of chances  but simply could not finish them off.Wilson's freekick was a goal all the way until Cech tipped it onto the bar.From the corner the keeper performed miracles scooping Huth's powerful point blank header onto the bar,and away to safety.At the death,seconds from the end of the 6 minutes of added time with the full goal at his mercy Ricardo Fuller contrived to head Etherington's astute cross beyond the far post.Had he netted that,just imagine the 'mentals' !

Chelsea had their chances too.Drogba in particular was dangerous striking the base of the Stoke post with a cross shot, and crashing a left foot shot against the bar.

Chelsea fielded a very strong first pick team as they searched for the 3 points to keep them in the title race.What struck me was that,particularly in the second half,was that they were unable to play within themselves (with a view to their upcoming  European  match),but simply had all on to keep out a very determined Stoke outfit.

A draw was on balance a fair result,but if either team deserved to take all the spoils then it would have to be Stoke.

So we edge a point closer to safety,a point many would concede - before the match - would be a bonus.What we have proved is that ,certainly at home we can live with the big spenders.Stoke team yesterday,say £50m,Chelsea striker Torres on the bench £50m.......and not very effective when he came on either! Get the distinct impression he does not like The Potteries!

A full house at The Brit,a magnificent atmosphere and support from beginning to end,and,well,some of the chants were superbly timed , priceless, and certainly contributed to ruffling the visitors feathers.

Saturday, March 19, 2011



This was Stoke getting back to some of their best football of the season.For the most part we looked really solid at the back, but most pleasingly with the quality of Pennant AND Etherington down the right and left flanks we rediscovered a real cutting edge.

Walters continues to be a revelation. There have been those who, right from the outset, have pronounced him not up to Premiership standard. Those who can’t understand why he gets picked every match. Well I think they need to take a closer more objective view of what he brings to the team. Yesterday, as in last week’s Cup match, he was everywhere about the pitch, unsettling Newcastle players and closing them down when they had the ball, linking play as we went forward. Now it might be my imagination but he seems to have got quicker, and that plus the knack of being in the right place at the right time, brought our crucial opener in this vital match.

Jermaine Pennant was set free down the right side, immediately delivered a delightful cross, which the incoming Walters met at the near post to head powerfully into the net past Harper.

Kenwynne Jones did not find the net himself but worked hard for the team. Just after the break he won the ball from keeper Harper on the edge of the penalty box, and rolled the ball left to Etherington. He took off toward the byline .His cross from the left reached Pennant coming in from the right. From the edge of the six yard box he placed his shot to Harpers left into the net.

Next KJ won a freekick on the edge of the box, from which Higginbotham repeated his West Ham trick,thumping the ball through the wall into the net.

So within four minutes of the restart a three goal cushion, which we fought hard to protect. Asmir Begovic has had one or two uncertain moments in recent games, but today his performance was immaculate with, particularly memorable, one superb diving save from Barton’s goalbound freekick from the edge of the box.

The icing on the cake, for me, was the fourth goal just before the final whistle in added on time. Ricardo Fuller has looked out of sorts for a good while now, the instinctive approach to striking somehow mysteriously disappeared. Well our super sub rediscovered his mojo. Set free on goal by Walters ,running in from the right, he hammered the ball across the keeper into the far corner of the net....just like he used to!!!

A brilliant result, which put a little more daylight between us and the bottom three places. But maybe still just a little too close for comfort.

Just wondering like, but could next week see us getting something from Chelsea?

Sunday, March 06, 2011



Stoke got off to a promising start today, for some twenty minutes playing the ball about confidently, although without much threat on the West Ham goal. A decision by keeper Asmir Begovic undermined all the good work. The beneficiary - you might have guessed even before the game started - was Demba Ba (21mins)! A hopeful ball over the top from Noble was pursued by Ba and Wilson.The Stoke man was  favourite to get the ball away to safety until Begovic came rushing out to clear. He missed the ball completely. Ba, still under challenge from Wilson, poked the ball into the empty net from two yards out.

Having been gifted a goal West Ham generally bossed the game for the rest of the half, adding to their tally (35mins) when Da Costa headed home from a freekick with Stoke guilty of slack marking at the set piece. Da Costa does not score many goals, and only scores against Stoke.

Stoke recovered their composure in the second half , Etherington joined later by Fuller and Jones, offering a greater attacking threat. Kenwyne missed a golden opportunity which he would have gobbled up earlier in the season heading Etherington’s superb cross from the right wide of goal. This was at a time when Stoke were pressing and the home crowd were clearly becoming anxious.Had Stoke got back to 2-1 we might have been looking at a different final outcome.

With seven minutes to go it was however the Hammers who completed the scoring, Hitzlsperger finding the roof of the net with a powerful shot from left of goal after Piquionne failed to capitalize on Parker’s cutback from the rightside  byline.

This is the first time we have conceded three goals in a league match this season. We are 12th in the table,but in terms of points now uncomfortably close to the bottom three.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011



Very much a game of two halves, but a first half which provided pointers as to what would happen later.Stoke subjected the supposedly frail Albion defence to the usual welcoming barrage,although with not the sustained ferocity of recent home matches.Albion seemed altogether more resilient in defence than in days gone by,and showed themselves no longer averse to the physical challenge,with more than a little cynical edge,which the ref did not appear to see nor penalise often enough.Both linesmen looked decidly dodgy.Albion’s formation confirmed they had come for a point,anything better would be a bonus.

Stoke seemed somewhat out of sorts and disjointed at times.Jermaine Pennant shone against an otherwise drab backdrop.His splendid corner from the left was headed in at the near post by Rory Delap,as Albion watched the big men in the centre of goal.Having taken the lead Stoke did not follow up for a second.If anything the pressure began to build from the visitors,especially after they made substitutions around 70 minutes.Stoke were forced back (sat back....difficult to tell),and almost half an hour after scoring and with four minutes to go they conceded.

Now you have to wonder whether this particular linesman should feature in the next Specsavers ad.He was stood in the right place,looking straight along the Stoke defensive line (even had the groundsman’s carefully mown lines in the grass as a reference)yet he failed to register two definite and seriously obvious WBA offsides, before Vela,from an offside position, scuffed the equaliser.

Insult could have been added to injury in added on time,as Begovic made a series of superlative saves,culminating in a wonderful block on Vela’s goal bound effort with just seconds to go,to ensure WE at least got one point.

A curiously below par effort by Stoke.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011



Stoke have not won at Arsenal for 30 years.Could our lads break that dismal record?Maybe a quick answer as first Walcott hit the post,then Stoke went a goal down in 7 minutes from a poorly defended corner.The ball was played long from the right, over the Stoke defence.Bendtner played the ball back in for Squillaci to head his first Premier League goal in past a helpless Begovic from 3 yards.

Wilson featuring at right back had his hands full with Arshavin,on early for Fabregas,and Nasri pushing down the Arsenal left.The home side monopolised possession without really getting through the City rearguard.Pugh at left back largely succeeded in blunting the threat from the speedy Walcott.

As the half wore on Stoke were pushed further back into their own half,with just the occasional breakout.On 35 minutes Carew brought a full length save  from the Arsenal keeper with a powerful shot from distance.

On 39 mins Shawcross clumsily tripped Arshavin on edge of box.Nasri hit the freekick to the left of the Stoke goal and safety.Shortly after we had a freekick of our own which Jermaine Pennant dropped dangerously into the home box.The keeper fisted away.  

Stoke came out of their shells a little more.Barely 2minutes into the second half Pennant down the left,ball into Shawcross whose goal bound header was knocked away for a corner,which came to nothing.Huth lept mightly but unfortunately headed over from a Delap long throw,as Stoke continued to press.

With 13  minutes to go Fuller came on for Walters. For Arsenal Chamakh replaced Bendtner.Arsenal felt the mounting tension,their fans increasingly nervous.A Pennant freekick beat the defensive wall,but flew into the side netting.Five minutes of added on time,but no Stoke equaliser this time round despite the Arsenal panic.

A dogged hardworking display from Stoke,which had Arsenal hanging on at the end.

Mr.Wenger did not look one happy puppy!

Stoke: Begovic,Wilson,Shawcross,Huth,Pugh,Delap,Whitehead,Whelan,Pennant,Walters,Carew.

Saturday, February 19, 2011



Stoke got off to a super start in the match with big John Carew heading in from a Delap long throw in (14 mins).Jon Walters doubled the lead. A Pennant run down the right was taken on by the overlapping right back Wilson, whose ball in was redirected into the net by the striker (22 mins). Etherington, starting the match following a hamstring injury went off at this point, looking decidedly uncomfortable, to be replaced by Ricardo Fuller.

Stoke’s third goal, before halftime, fell to Captain Ryan Shawcross. Jermaine Pennant’s corner from the right was headed across goal, to the unmarked skipper, who headed home his first goal since our cup exit against Chelsea last year.

No further goals in the second half, with The Potters playing their way into the final eight. Kenwyne Jones came on for Carew, but again did not look likely to score. With the fans on his back life continues to be difficult for him. Fuller seemed below what we know to be his best, until the last few minutes when he suddenly managed a couple of his mesmerising dribbles. The second culminated in a shot to the near post which the keeper parried away for a corner. Even more than at Birmingham last week the selection of Wilson and Pugh at fullback seemed to increase our creative options.

A thoroughly professional performance against the high scoring Division One leaders, in a fixture that might have posed problems for us in the past.

Saturday, February 12, 2011



What goes around comes around. A week ago we were elated as we snatched the points from Sunderland with Robert Huth's late late goal.Today we suffered a similar fate as Birmingham did the same to us.

Changes to our line up saw Pugh at left back and Wilson in for Wilkinson.Probably most significantly Etherington did not feature at all thus halving the wing service to Carew and Jones.Etherington finished last week's game strongly,but for a little while now he has looked as though he is carrying some sort of injury.The received wisdom today was that he was actually injured,but looking at Birmingham's pudding of a pitch it is at least as likely that the manager was worried that he might aggravate the existing condition.Walters was the replacement.

Stoke had some of the better moments of the first half with Pennant lively against another of his old clubs,whilst Birmingham looked more likely in the second half.Robert Huth was lucky to escape a ball to hand penalty as Brum exerted some pressure.

The game itself was heading for a stalemate conclusion,and a deserved point,when,with 30 seconds to go,the home side grabbed a winner.Asmir Begovic has been in fine form in goal for us since he took over in goal from Sorensen.At the death he spilled the ball down by his right post.Birmingham were quick to stand the ball up to Zigic,who, with his height advantage  had no problem heading into the net  from point blank range.

Sunday, February 06, 2011



I certainly warmed to Gary Lineker  on Match of the Day last night having watched the game at the Britannia Stadium earlier. Stoke produced a scintillating lateshow Houdini act to take all three points from a more than useful Sunderland outfit.

“Proper goals” (all three Stoke scores)netted from “a combined yardage of six yards”, he said! Appreciation from one who knows just a little bit about scoring goals, scruffy or otherwise, but a comment sure to cause a grinding of teeth in soccer purist Baggie fan Adrian Chiles.Welcome appreciation from Shearer and Lawrenson too.

The game was a cracker, Stoke twice giving the visitors a helping hand. Given the awful weather conditions, heavy rain and swirling wind, they played some excellent football going forward, crisp passing, keeping the ball on the ground and to feet. Richardson put them a goal up on 2 minutes, with Gyan restoring their lead only 3 minutes into the second half.

You had the feeling though that their weakness lay in defence. Having fallen behind so early in the first half Stoke steadily built up pressure, and deservedly equalised in the 32nd minute. Delap threw long into the heart of the Sunderland penalty area.From the ensuing melee the ball rose into the air, and as it fell Huth challenged. With the ball heading goalwards Carew managed a balletic toe poke to secure the equaliser.

It looked as though he had bagged our second equaliser heading in a Pennant freekick on 82 minutes. The goal was eventually credited to Huth. Stoke pressed hard for a winner.Two minutes into added on time Whitehead was fouled out on the left. Jermaine Pennant’s superb free kick cleared the cluster of players in the Sunderland box ,dropping invitingly to Huth running in behind them from the right. The German found the net with aplomb.Cue serious celebration amongst the players and the home faithful.

With other teams below us winning games recently this win was vital to us. Three  points lifts us into 9th spot in the table.

A splendid never say die team effort. Carew looks as though he could be very good for us. Etherington twinkled occasionally, but yesterday it was Jermaine Pennant who caught the eye. His corners and freekicks were a constant threat,  he seemed to pop up everywhere on the pitch, and was involved in much intelligent link play.