STOKE CITY FC 2 BOLTON WANDERERS 0
Stoke took this game by the scruff of the neck,at no stage letting go,despite some occasionally penetrative moves from the visitors.The whole game was played in very strong winds which appeared to be blowing the length of the pitch toward the Boothen Stand.This accompanied by a few rain squalls made playing football extremely difficult,but particularly so for defenders who had to improvise or adjust for clearances as the ball held up in the wind.This made for hairy moments.
Ricardo Fuller was unavailable for family reasons,his place being taken by Tuncay,who in turn was featuring from the off for the third game in a row.Quite a run for him.He took the chance with both hands,linking well with strike partner Kenwyne Jones,popping up all over the pitch tormenting the Bolton team with his energy,pace, and impish skills.He was even seen at one point in the second half filling in at fullback for Wilkinson ,who had ventured upfield.TP must have been proud of him at that moment.
We had to wait until the 37th minute for the opener.Tuncay took a corner from the left in front of the South Stand.It caught a little in the wind before dropping to Higginbotham who gleefully bundled the ball just over the line (to the satisfaction of Ref Oliver to our great relief - Oliver had earlier busied himself affording excessive protection to the visiting keeper).
The second goal on 63 minutes owed much to Tuncay's well timed pass.Picking up a defensive clearance from Huth, he carried the ball forward from centre field to the right,heading at the heart of the Bolton defence. The Turk was overtaken by Etherington..He pushed the ball through ,Ethers received and headed into the penalty box at full speed.Much too pacey for Zat Knight,the centreback was inevitably drawn into a poor challenge.The winger took the resultant penalty himself,placing his effort to the right,just managing to find the net,despite Jaaskelainen finger tipping the ball onto the post.
Stoke move up to 8th in the table again, with a very respectable 30 points.No signs of complacency from our manager in his post match interviews though.Quite right too.
A cynic would suggest that the way Stoke were set up today,with Wilson joining Delap and Whitehead in midfield, afforded Tuncay the freedom to do his own thing, with a view to putting him firmly in the shop window.On today's evidence it would be a considerable loss to us if he did indeed move on.