2016 - 2017

2016 - 2017

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.