STOKE CITY FC 1 MANCHESTER UNITED 1
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.