2016 - 2017

2016 - 2017

Sunday, December 30, 2012

JUST LIKE THE OTHERS ??


STOKE CITY FC  3  SOUTHAMPTON  3

Now we've been looking on from a distance at the 'cricket' scores being notched up in other Premiership games this season,and thinking...not us,its not how we do things at Stoke City. Miserly in defence, low scoring in attack,but an eminently effective and successful strategy to move us forward.

Have things changed in the last four days , have we become just like the others? Liverpool had the cheek to score first on Wednesday night, and paid the price. The Potteries finest raised their game, put the visitors to the sword,and in the process scored THREE goals....in one game. Not really a cricket score by others standards,but maybe it was by ours. Superlative football.

But things were different yesterday,we edged into the realm of the cricket score. You could recognise at The Brit the root causes that Messrs Hansen and Lawrenson identify in high scoring matches, prime among which was poor defending.

So what happened? In the first half we were not as dire as some would suggest,but we were pretty poor. The well oiled defensive machine coughed,spluttered, but did not fire up. The explanation is not as simple as 'Shawcross and Cameron were missing'.We should have been able to take on a poor Southampton side without them,as later events proved.

Upson is not Shawcross,but for my money once he settled he had a good game. Captain for the day Huth was definitely uncomfortable without his usual partner,and did not have one of his better first halves. Wilkinson, after a brilliant performance against Liverpool, was seriously out of sorts. It is a long time since we saw so many instances of two Stoke players colliding going for the same man or uncertainty to the point where two players left the ball to each other,for an opponent to collect whilst they looked at each other. Crucially in two of the Southampton goals communication seemed to breakdown between keeper Begovic and his back line.

Southampton's game plan was set up to exploit our changes,moving the ball down the flanks,and loading as many crosses in as possible. For their first goal De Prado was given time and space out on the left,his cross netted by an unattended Lambert. For the second Lambert crossed from the right into the six yard box. Nine times out of ten Begovic would have claimed the easy ball,but Huth poked the ball up against his own bar,from which it dropped leaving Rodriguez an unmissable one yard finish.The third goal saw Wilkinson knee(?) Lambert's header into his own net. Again Begovic seemed well placed, and on another day would have taken charge.

What of Stoke going forward in the first half? Well Kenwyne Jones continued his renaissance. Having missed a sitter/sighter,he equalised Southampton's first goal,with an exquisite back heal into the net from Shotton's low ball in from the right. Not much else to report.

The real fireworks came in the second period. On the way home from the ground Nigel Johnson on Radio Stoke pointedly asked Manager Pulis what he had said in the dressing room at halftime. His answer ..” Can't remember!” Well most of us present would be able to make a pretty shrewd guess at what he said, and from what we saw the team certainly did remember!

Second half...all Stoke, first with 11 men then with 10. With Stoke pushing forward,and the score 1-3 Southampton had a gilt edged chance .Following a defensive mistake Begovic saved Rodriguez shot with his legs,but was powerless as De Prado shot wide of the open goal.

Minutes later Stoke reduced the deficit. Building pressure through throw ins and corners finally paid off. A Whelan corner dropped into the visitors penalty area,cue pinball,with Upson shooting through the crowd into the net. Four minutes later the task became more difficult for the Potters when N'Zonzi was sent off for allegedly stamping on Cork.(TV showed no contact was made but the clear intent was there.)

For the closing stages Stoke had four strikers on the pitch,Jones and Walters and earlier sub Jerome, being joined by Crouch.He it was who provided the knowhow to unpick the Southampton defence,such as it was.First, a flick on set Jerome free to lob the ball into the net but this was rightly ruled offside. Second,Crouch chested a Jones flick into the path of Jerome.

Jerome came onto the ball, from 30 yards out,smashed it goalwards,whence it went into the net off the crossbar. A glorious moment to be at the Brit,with massive celebration to follow. In substantial added on time Crouch came close to giving us the win that had seemed so improbable at halftime his clever downward header pushed away somewhat awkwardly by keeper Davis.

Value for money entertainment? Definitely. Six goals scored in two games. Still 8th in the table. Need more points to stay up though....let's have a real crack at Manchester City!



Thursday, December 27, 2012

WHAT A MATCH.......NOBODY SLEPT THROUGH THIS ONE.



STOKE CITY FC 3 LIVERPOOL 1


Well lazy sections of the media have us down as one dimensional ,and by some illogical extension boring. It must be all the 0-0 draws. Reporters have become accustomed to dozing off. Have to concentrate at all the football 'purist' venues,such as Swansea and Norwich,in case they miss something. But at Stoke they can nod off and still write an accurate (ish) match report.

Last night at The Brit,much changed,not least that members of the fourth estate,had to tear up their pre-written copy,and,perched on the edges of their seats,had to pay close attention to the proceedings!

34 seconds was all it took for Liverpool to win their first penalty of the season,and light the blue touchpaper. The Brit took off, and with it the home team. Not only that, they never let up all night!Within four minutes Super Jon Walters had us back on terms. A Shawcross punt forward was challenged for by Kenwyne Jones. He did not win it,but the ball dropped into Walters path. He advanced a few yards, before expertly finding the Liverpool net with keeper Reina stranded.


In next to no time Kenwyne Jones put us in front, a lead we never looked like losing. Seemingly, he just ambled around the activity in the six yard box,jumped to meet a near post corner from the left,his header passing just inside the post. Delirious celebration around the ground, accompanied by his trademark back flip.

The icing on the cake,the cream on the trifle came courtesy of SJW early in the second half. Wilko's throw in was flicked into the Liverpool box by Jones. Walters controlled the ball with his chest before (almost gently) volleying the ball into the net. 3 – 1 and no way back for the visitors.

A wonderful team performance from the Potters who never really allowed Liverpool to settle or to get any flow into their game.

Half way through the season,19 games played, 28 points on the board,and 8th in the table. Definitely Merry Xmas,and (hopefully) Happy New Year!

A traditional Boxing Day bonanza.....you can keep your tippy tappy......

Sunday, December 23, 2012

SOLID STUBBORN STOKE


TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS 0 STOKE CITY FC 0

Another good and hard earned point for The Mighty Potters,against a team who could have gone to third in the table with a win. The first half was comfortable with our prime chance falling to the busy Kenwyne Jones. In the event he blazed the ball over the bar.What would Crouchie have done with this opportunity?

Kenwyne was quick enough to intercept a poor Spurs square pass....to make the chance. Not sure that Crouch would have got to the ball. However,hypothetical though it may be,had Crouch found himself in the shooting position that KJ enjoyed,the probability is that he would have scored.

There you have it,in the final third of the pitch we are not sharp enough,annoyingly close but not quite there,as regards having what it takes to be a top six team. Defensively we were excellent,solid and resilient especially in the second half when Spurs upped the ante. Begovic had little to do,well shielded by organised outfield players.

Ryan Shawcross had a tremendous game,he clearly could not give a twopenny stuff for the vitriolic garbage about him spewing from the media. The stuff ,as instanced,by The Daily Mail,which has him has the villain of the piece in the Fellani incident(s) rather than the victim. In fact through the week different journalists on the same paper have developed and embellished this theme. 

My recollection of the game was that both sides were physical,and that there was plenty of close contact; that the Belgian was putting himself about and then lost it!! The Mail's 'campaign ' culminated in a farcical article by Martin Keown yesterday,bearing a scandalous title ,which included the words 'sly Shawcross'.(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2251907/Martin-Keowns-boot-room-Marouane-Fellaini-headbutt-wrong-sly-Ryan-Shawcross-defence.html)

Monumentally hypocritical from a player I recall being well versed in the dark arts of defending, AND APPLYING THEM.An angel he was not!

Monday, December 17, 2012

TIME FLEW BY....AND GREATEST RESPECT TO MANAGER MOYES

STOKE CITY FC  1  EVERTON  1

This was a most enjoyable match.It must have been,because the time just flew by.Two well matched sides,believe it or believe it not! The football  served up was first rate,and the result a fair reflection on the proceedings.

For me the first half was even stevens,though with Everton reaching halftime in the lead courtesy of Captain Ryan.He had an (almost) immaculate game again,but unfortunately got slightly underneath a hopeful Pienaar cross,the ball looping up off the top of his head, up and over Begovic into the far corner of the net.

In the second half Stoke pushed further up the field,and took charge of the game for long periods.Adam was unfortunate with one chance,before Kenwyne Jones got his head to a long punt downfield by Shawcross.The ball went just inside the post,eluding keeper Howard as he scrambled across the goal line seemingly on all fours!

Very soon after Jones had another chance ,though he was defeated by the bounce of the ball.

Everton were lucky to finish with 11 men on the field. Ref Mark Halsey,who for my money had a good game, missed Fellani's head butt on Shawcross in the penalty area.But asked for his comments after the match Manager Moyes was refreshingly honest,critical of his player,and clear that justice should take its due course.None of the Wenger style dissembling......greatest respect to the man!

Monday, December 10, 2012

THOUGHT HE WAS HOWARD WEBB,BUT HE WASN'T HALF AS GOOD.

ASTON VILLA  0  STOKE CITY FC  0

Another one of those " not much to be seen here,move along please" matches.Villa had the bulk of the play,made a good few chances,but found the Stoke defence,as usual, in stubborn mood.Stoke came into things more,our best chance being a Walters shot in the second half,which was deflected  away to safety.

The ref was a new one on us,Mr East,Howard Webb look alike,but with a good way to go before he can match the great man's performance levels.No bookings,although there had been candidates earlier,until the final quarter of the match.Then Ryan Shotton bagged two himself. First he won the ball from sub Ireland,judged a foul by the ref ,but it did not merit a booking until rather stupidly he walked away with the ball.Second he did everything he could to avoid contact with the other Villa sub Delph.The slightest brush brought a tumbling act from the Villa man.Mr East on the case immediately,second red and off for Ryan,unfairly in my opinion.

10 men for the last minute and a half, we held out!Another point,now fifteen more needed to stay up.Still ninth in the table.

Fingers crossed!

Monday, December 03, 2012

BAGGIES CHARITY SHOP OPEN FOR BUSINESS




WEST BROMWICH ALBION 0 STOKE CITY FC 1

I was not too confident as we approached this fixture.The Baggies have been going well this season,particularly at home. Scoring frequently too!

Oh ye of little faith.I should have known better,after all this is Stoke we are talking about. Having lost comprehensively at Swansea,WBA did us a favour,making six changes in all.This led to disjointed dour first half in which the home side were able to make little headway.

Attacking threat from them was missing,and this continued into the second period.Begovic had only two serious saves to make throughout the whole game. Kenwyne Jones,in for Peter Crouch, had our only chance in the first half,heading narrowly wide of the WBA post.

We only had one half chance in the second period,but this one we converted, the goal coming from an unlikely source. Jon Walters punted a long hopeful ball for Jones to chase. Olsson has frustrated us over the last couple of years with some solid defending. On this occasion he panicked. First to the ball,instead of knodding it to keeper Myhill,he headed it toward the corner flag. Under challenge from Jones he compounded the error by kicking the ball down the touchline,where a grateful Kightly picked it up,before driving into the WBA box. His short incisive pass was met first time by Whitehead, defenders and keeper given no chance,as he registered his first goal since January.

And really that was that....3 more points in the bag,9th spot in the table,above Arsenal and Liverpool,4 points off a place in Europe.........

Thursday, November 29, 2012

WHICH GAME WERE YOU WATCHING.....OR WERE YOU JUST SAT AT HOME?




STOKE CITY FC  2  NEWCASTLE UNITED  1

Stoke were good value for this win, although you might not have got that impression IF:

  • you had watched the MOTD highlights


  • listened to any of Newcastle Manager Alan Pardew's sour faced comments


  • read the majority of the reports of the match in the press today.


Stoke are still massively,and wrongly stereotyped in the media.The Beeb's coverage particularly of the first half did not accurately portray the balance of play,it was better for the second.

For Mr.P his team were the better of the two and deserved a result because they had a game plan,AND they had carried it out.What twaddle....was their game plan  then to lose the match?They had the best of the play...the stats don't bear that out.Take a look at posession and a corner count hugely in our favour. Oh and they should have had a penalty.We can only presume this was the occasion that Demba Ba blasted the ball against Huth from all of a yard and a half !

As for some of the halfwits who produce column inches  for the papers,well we don't really need to go there.We've been there before and nothing much is changing in their mindset.There is football for the 'purist',and then there is Stoke's ugly Pulisball.Some of these clowns need to actually get to the match,AND with an open mind.

What they would see is some pretty useful passing football,much less route 1.N'Zonzi and Whelan a producing some  neat stuff in the midfield,probing rather than battering visiting  teams defences.

Just after the break Begovic fluffed a take from Ba's long range shot.Cisse was quickest to the ball,to provide the opening goal.Gaining some confidence from this Newcastle enjoyed their only period on top.

Everything changed with the introduction of Jerome and Kightly,joining Kenwyne Jones,already on for Crouch.Increased mobility unsettled Newcastle.Jones ought to have scored with a header from Kightlys delightful 'dink' from the left.

On 81 minutes a Shotton throw in down the right was met by Jon Walters.With his back to the Newcastle goal he flicked the ball over his shoulder for Jerome to run on to.He made for the corner ,turned back before delivering a fine cross.Walters on his way toward the box rose to head this ball above keeper Krul into the far corner of the net.

Four minutes later the comeback was complete.N'Zonzi received the ball from Shotton in midfield,pushing it to his right to Walters.He looped a wonderful ball forward onto Jones'head outside the Newcastle box.His knockdown to the right was met first time by Jerome,his strong shot on the run  giving Krul no chance.

 So 19 points from 14 games,10 points from the last 12,9th in the table, subs doing so well what they are paid to do.

Oh and take care what you read on the messageboard.....someone is bound to be knocking Jon Walters performance.

'Don't know why Pulis picks him week in week out!' Plenty of evidence ....you just need to be able to see it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

CHARLIE ADAM DOES IT AGAIN !!!



STOKE CITY FC 1 FULHAM 0

Even if only for 24hours Stoke moved up to a respectable mid table 11th place in the Premiership,with 16 points from 13 games,and 0 goal difference. For the second home game running Charlie Adam notched the crucial goal,bringing us all three points.

Fulham had more of the possession overall,but - the last ten minutes or so apart – they did not do as much with it as Stoke. Our team managed a threat down both wings. On the left Etherington continues to progress,looking more like the player we had two years ago. He is beginning to take his man on in a way that leaves you feeling that he might have some joy. The confidence is returning. Down the right,surprisingly you might say, we possessed an even more potent threat. Not from Jon Walters,but rather from his fullback partner Ryan Shotton.

Ryan Shotton showed a real appetite for overlapping,much as he did in some of our Euro matches last year. He was responsible for a number of dangerous crosses into the Fulham goalmouth. On 26 minutes,prompted by Walters and N'Zonzi,he took the ball behind the Fulham defensive line before crossing a wicked curling ball.It reached Crouch, as ever, closely marked by two defenders, on the edge of the visitors six yard box. Our ex-England man headed the ball down to Adam,more centrally placed,who controlled the ball before swivelling to hit the ball crisply past Schwarzer into the net.

Numerous chances came our way ...and went! Huth had two near miss headers. Shawcross, looking more dangerous than he has for a while at the attacking end of the pitch, followed a header wide with another that crashed against the crossbar but came out to safety. Whelan,who for me had a fine all round game,had two near misses,one past the post,the other narrowly over the bar. Late on sub Kenwyne Jones was put clear,netted expertly,but was adjudged offside,narrowly it seemed.

Stoke looked nervous in the closing minutes, and allowed Fulham to come onto them,but fortunately did not concede.

Asmir Begovic earned his corn, especially when making a fine save from dangerman Berbatov's powerful on target cross shot.

An excellent team performance from Stoke with Fulham very much second best.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SAM WOKE WEST HAM FROM THEIR SLUMBER



WEST HAM UNITED 1 STOKE CITY FC 1

Very similar in some ways to the Man U game. Stoke got off to a particularly bright start,quietening the home crowd,unsettling the high flying home team.

The highlight of the first half,dominated by Stoke,was Walters' superb finish on 13 minutes to give us the lead. A Whelan corner from the right,played along the ground,was smashed in by our striker,after running from one side of the six yard box to the other,with various other team members successfully completing their tasks, in what was clearly a worked move.

We held the lead until the early minutes of the second half. Whatever Sam Alladyce said to his team at halftime it worked. For pretty much the whole of the half they were on top,going forward,and forcing Stoke into some frantic defending at times. The equaliser came on 48 minutes from fullback O'Brian from very close in.His first goal in the Premiership. Shades of Chelsea! Remember another fullback,who does not score many goals, notching a winner late on from close in.

The one that got away? During our period of first half control,and after Walters goal,N'Zonzi had first a sighter shot,which he then followed with a thunderous strike.The ball hit the bar then rebounded to the floor,and then out to safety.Had we gone in two goals up then the result could have been so different.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

STOKIE LOGIC



STOKE CITY FC 1 QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0

Stoke had to work really hard for this win,and the three points. From a team confidence point of view the result was vital. Watching ALL the players on the pitch there was plenty of tension about. Our visitors have spent heavily on players,many of them talented,but what they do not yet have is a team,just a collection of individuals. Stoke by contrast definitely are a team, all for one,one for all,though maybe sometimes looking like the unfinished article that the manager argues that it is.

As in recent weeks elsewhere Rangers set out to stifle Crouch, and to a point enjoyed some success. However, despite the close attentions of one,two, and sometimes three defenders,and with little protection from the referee,he still managed to get to the ball,and make things happen. He got a couple of powerful shots away on target,which were blocked; he still managed numerous flick ons of varying accuracy which no other Stoke player could take advantage of; but,unlike some strikers we've had in the past, he does not seem to be discouraged by this close attention. He just keeps on coming.

He didn't score,but he got his reward just after halftime. Huth took a freekick from out on the left,flighting the ball into the Rangers penalty box. Jon Walters – he had a much better game today – got up well to head the ball across the front of goal. Crouch did not seem to get much on the ball as it moved out to the right,but what he did do was attract three QPR defenders,as if flies to fly paper. Charlie Adam felt the benefit as the ball reached him coming in from the right unmarked. His cool left footed shot curled past helpless keeper Caesar into the left side of the net. The winner! Adam's first goal to boot!

QPR had their chances,but were simply unable to take them.

Now this result defied all the usual Stokie logic!They took all six points from us last season. They have not won a match this season. Their last away win was at Stoke twelve months ago. Their last win was against The Mighty Potters at Loftus Road last April. It's the custom at Stoke,that we always extend charity on these occasions. The buzz in the pub before the match....a QPR win was inevitable!

Lots of happy faces afterwards,all glad to be wrong!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

CLUELESS REFS, LUCKLESS POTTERS,TOOTHLESS TIGERS.....ANY OF THESE, OR SOMETHING ELSE?


NORWICH CITY 1 STOKE CITY 0

Looks to me like we are suffering a combination of these factors,PLUS tactics and overall match strategy.Let's turn the whole thing on its head.No Stokie watching would be in any doubt that in the last quarter of this match,and the one against Sunderland we have not only looked dangerous,but have created enough chances to win the games twice over.For threequarters of each game our play has seemed predictable,even laboured,fairly easily handled and stifled by the opposition.

Our attacking fulcrum is Crouchie.Take him out,by fair means or foul and we have less penetration as a team, given the tactical set up.Norwich successfully followed Sunderland's lead,roughing Crouch out of it,our man again getting little protection from the referee,or even being ruled against when he'd clearly been impeded.The odd chance or two were not taken,one by Jon Walters who is becoming the 'nearly' man,getting himself into wonderful scoring positions,but failing to put the ball in the net.Toothless....well not entirely.

Andre Marriner....what can you say?Have we ever won with him officiating?Maybe I'm wrong on this one,but I can't recall a win! He booked Adam for diving,but he was clearly elbowed on his way by a Norwich player.Crucially he backed his assistant's view that Wilkinson had fouled Snodgrass as he approached our area just before halftime.He was closer to the play than the lino with a clear view.The contact,if any, was minimal,certainly less than the earlier incident with Adam.Wilkinson seemed to be trying to avoid contact as Snodgrass ran across him.Yet rather than book the Norwich man for simulation,he awarded a freekick,and booked Wilko into the bargain.As they say its all about opinions,and entirely subjective at times!

This decision proved to be the turning point of the match.Snodgrass's freekick was headed on its way by a poorly marked Johnson beyond Begovic into the top corner of the Stoke net.The winner as it turned out.

But what about the last 20 minutes or so?Kightly had been replaced by Etherington,Walters by Jones.Things changed,the final stages of the game were all Stoke.Chances fell to Kenwyne Jones.First he he met a freekick from Adam.His header was saved by Ruddy,down on his goal line.Then an Adam freekick reached him 6 yards out He got his shot away,but sadly it passed narrowly outside the post.Eighteen months ago he would have bagged one of those chances,but take nothing away from him,Stoke looked more dangerous with him on the pitch with Crouch at this time.

On 90 minutes Bassong had hold of Etherington on the edge of the Norwich 6 yard box.The Norwich player then fell to the floor,Mr.Marriner obliged with a booking for Etherington!












Sunday, October 28, 2012

MIGNOLET HAS HIS DAY.


STOKE CITY FC 0 SUNDERLAND 0

Sunderland came to The Brit for a point.That they left with one,from a largely uninspiring match, owed much to fine - and occasionally lucky - keeping by Mignolet.If my recollection is correct he saved at point blank range on four occasions,fine reflex saves,but in each case with the ball flying directly at him.Directed even a little to one side,and we would have been looking at at least two goals.

Stoke huffed and puffed throughout the afternoon,but for the most part failed to penetrate a dense Sunderland rearguard.Crouch was handled (and manhandled!)well by O Shea,Cuellar and Gardner so the supply of flickons was reduced,or lacked their usually accuracy.

For me KIghtly was,once again,our liveliest forward performer,a definite threat,but often outnumbered.Walters got about well,but for the most part was stifled.Indeed when he went off to be replaced by Etherington we began to look altogether more potent going forward.Ethers showed a greater inclination,than of late,to take his man on,with some success,despite being heavily marked.Very late on he ran at the Sunderland defence,before poking a ball through to Crouch.No question,just a little less pace on it,and goal would have resulted.As it was the ball eluded our striker.

Cameron,as an attacking full back is looking particularly at home.His crosses are now finding the right range,and on two occasions he worked his way into the Sunderland box,causing some panic.Adam continues to settle in.His passing skills and vision are evident in open play,his wicked freekicks will eventually bring greater rewards for the team.From one of Cameron's forays to the byline he received a cut back,leaving him eight yards out with the keeper to beat.He scuffed the shot,his frustration was evident.He'll score on another day.

The unsung heroes? Whitehead had a cracking game.Wherever an intervention was required,there he was to snuff out any threat.N'Zonzi continues to impress.His defends well,he wins the ball,he plays the simple but telling pass,and in the last quarter he was the driving force as we pushed on for a win.

Begovic had little to do,the back four were solid.Wilson looked to take a serious injury just after the break.Hopefully it will not be as bad as it looked.Replacement Wilkinson deputised well,although his only mistake let Sunderland in,but Fletcher could not capitalise on the opportunity.

Not,then,the win we had hoped for.Nine points from 9 games,just below midpoint in the table.And Lawro and his mate Hansen think we'll be fine.So that's alright then.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A STRIKER'S TALE

MANCHESTER UNITED  4  STOKE CITY FC  2

Despite some of the media hype there has been a generally held view that for one and a bit seasons now Manchester United are not what they were...worldbeaters.

Maybe so.Yesterday Stoke provided strong evidence that defensively they are not what they were.For the first 25 minutes or so Stoke,admirably prompted by Charlie Adam,bossed this game.We had a dream start when Rooney,under challenge from Shawcross,dispatched an Adam freekick from the right into his own net (11 mins).Stoke continued to press,creating more chances as the United defence at sixes and sevens continued to labour. Walters should have done better with a clear shot on goal from close in.Adam had a goal bound shot brilliantly pushed away at the near post by keeper De Gea.Defensively not what they were then.

But in attack a different proposition altogether.Indeed the real difference on the day was the home side's ability to build quickly in attack,AND to take their chances.But here,of course,money talks.They have,in Rooney and Van Persie two of the best strikers in the country,with Welbeck a not inconsiderable talent.
A swift break and cross from the left saw Rooney heading home(27 mins)to cancel out his earlier goal.

Twelve minutes later a Welbeck shot skimmed the Stoke bar.With two minutes to go before the break Valencia worked down the right.His low cross into the goalmouth was redirected into the net by Van Persie.The bad news for The Potters continued, two minutes after the break when Rooney scampered free on the right.His waist high cross was headed home by the diving Welbeck,Begovic having no chance to save.

That looked to be that,until in the58th minute - and about to be subbed - Kightly again revealed United's defensive frailty,as he dribbled through their defence from the half way line  into the penalty area,placing the ball beyond De Gea's reach into the right hand corner of the net.

For 8 minutes there was hope that we might salvage something,but the game was effectively put to bed by Rooney.A corner from the right was not cleared,bobbled across our defence to Rooney at the far post.A simple tap in,and to all intents and purposes game over.Michael Owen had the last 20 minutes on the pitch,as both sides played out time.

Stoke deserved more than they got from this game,and certainly,unlike other recent visits,gave United plenty to think about.Perhaps next year.....

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

DIVA


LIVERPOOL  0  STOKE CITY FC  0






We are the Master’s deep sea divers.
We are given a life line,
Short or long, depending.

“Look for pens!, they say,
…Look for pens!”
So deep have I gone,
Into the black depths
Of my sea.
That I have lost my way

 Suddenly, I feel  the Master
Tugging hard on my line, saying
“Those things are not for you, enough!
Come up, come up!”

Unable to resist, I am pulled up,
A failure and a fool! Not even
A crummy pen to show
For all my troubles!

“ I failed, o’ Master.” .


PS Another valuable point,well deserved for the Mighty Potters!!
Suarez is for sure a class player, but
as Mark Lawrenson observed
his acting is
laughable!


Sunday, September 30, 2012

POTTERS UP AND RUNNING.

STOKE CITY FC  2  SWANSEA CITY  0

There we are, up and running with our first win of the new season.In the first half Tony Pulis's unchanged team simply carried on from where they left off last week.The team proved much too strong for a lightweight (literally) Swansea outfit.

Most of the good work was done in the first half,when the game was to all intents and purposes won.Swansea got more purchase on the game for 20 minutes or so after the break,but Stoke finished the stronger and could have added to the first half score.

Just as against Chelsea we looked busy and purposeful.Kightley had too much for left back Davies,and proved to be a constant threat to the visitors.Cameron once again marauded to great effect,some player,indeed.His crosses are powerful,but not always threatening....yet.N'Zonzi and Adam are clearly bringing the best out of a rejuvenated Whelan in midfield.Shame the Irishman  had to leave the field early with what unfortunately looked like a hamstring problem..

We are getting pretty teed off with  so called Stoke fans sniping at Jon Walters.He had a cracking game again yesterday, was absolutely everywhere about the pitch,and with his energy and mobility  made lots of things happen.His manager,as no less an authority than Denis Smith pointed out,trusts him to deliver,hence he picks him week in week out.Body language usually tells all.....his teammates clearly hold him in high regard too!!No one more than Peter Crouch who,once again yesterday,benefitted from Walters putting himself about.In the 36th minute Walters created alarm in the Swansea defence getting to a cross from the right.Fair enough he didn't get to control the ball,but he caused it to break to Crouch.He had his first shot parried by keeper Vorm,who could do nothing as our leading marksman followed up to slot the ball home into the right corner of the net,for his second of the afternoon.

Earlier (12th minute) Crouch had opened our account with a fine headed goal.Swansea's defenders were unable to cope with their marking tasks and our movement as Whelan took a excellent corner from the left.Crouchie was able to ghost in unmarked to pick his spot in the centre of the visitors net.

Just as last season Swansea tipped and tapped the ball about,but not to great effect.Stoke could perhaps have added to the two goals.In the last quarter Matthew Etherington made a lively entry and contribution.He really did look like the Etherington of old.He raided down the left, beating three defenders to the byline before producing an exquisite cross for Crouch to the right of goal.It looked for all the world that we would have our first hattrick hero for a long while (was Peter Thorne the last?),but unfortunately his header hit the bar and went away to safety.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

HEARTBROKEN OR GUTTED...TAKE YOUR PICK

CHELSEA  1  STOKE CITY FC  0

Make no bones about it Stoke's fine team performance deserved better than this.We were unlucky to come away from Stamford Bridge empty handed.

Our previous results there indicate the progress we have been making from the infamous 7-0 thrashing four years ago,through 2-0,to now two close encounter narrow 1-0 defeats.Last year we were undone by Mata's trickery late on.The same medicine this year administered by the same player,but later still,just five minutes to go!

Both Chelsea fullback's found their way down the flanks and into our penalty box on numerous occasions,but not to any great effect until the 85th minute.Cole advanced on goal more in hope than anything else.The ball reached the busy Mata some 8 yards out.He immediately backheeled the ball blind,hoping someone would be there.On this occasion Cole was.Begovic got fingers to his weak flicked shot - a reflection, perhaps, of the fact that he had not scored for two years - from very close in,but was unable to make a save.Heartbreaking....

So was this offering from Stoke any better than last year's?


For certain...the match stats speak for themselves.Stoke?? 49% possession in an away match!!One way traffic,I don't think so,although the corners stat might suggest differently.The best chances of the first half fell to us.Jon Walters hit the bar getting a powerful header onto Whelan's dangerous freekick from the right,keeper Cech beaten all ends up.

Cameron had a superbly composed game at right back in place of Wilkinson.In addition to his defensive duties he found opportunities to raid down the right.Two were notable,one in each half.The first saw him receive the ball from Crouch at speed. His cross was too powerful for the incoming Kightly to head home.The second saw a deep cross,which sub Kenwyne Jones did well to head back across goal to pick out fellow sub Etherington just outside the six yard box.In his purple patch two years ago our winger would have netted.On this occasion his effort was off target to the right.



Stoke refused to lie down to the end.As we chased we saw Michael Owen lurking in positions near goal from which we have seen him score many times in the past.Think this augurs well for the future if he stays fit. On this occasion no equaliser,against a very relieved looking Chelsea side,but some very promising signs indeed





Sunday, September 16, 2012

CROUCHIE WOULD HAVE MADE A FINE BASKETBALL PLAYER.........

STOKE CITY FC  1  MANCHESTER CITY  1


..........but Roberto you are getting confused.What we all saw yesterday was a'dink' not a 'dunk before the ball hit the net in the 15th minute.Dinks are much more subtle than dunks,certainly we didn't see Crouchie hanging from the goal frame in celebration after he had netted.So it can't have been basketball,it must have been soccer!

This was in the end a fair result between a busy Stoke side,who showed not a little skill and creativity,and an expensively assembled Manchester outfit,some of whom,again,did not really fancy the challenge on a beautiful afternoon at the Brit.

Crouch's goal was built upon a wonderful / hopeful elevated reverse flick by the ever willing Jon Walters.The ball reached Crouchie in a crowded goal mouth.There was a hint of handball,but in two or three touches he had the ball beyond Hart into the net.The suggestion of handball paralysed the Man City defence,all appealing rather than playing to the whistle.Ref Clattenburg....he saw nothing amiss!Always said he was a good 'un really.

The visitors equaliser came from a freekick on the left,Javi Garcia heading home unchallenged from close in.
The second half was notable for three splendid moments.Asmir Begovic was involved in all three.First he saved brilliantly from Yaya Toure,coming out fast with the midfielder looking odds on to score,he deflected the ball magnificently over the bar to safety.

Second from a corner Garcia had another free header from close in.It looked for all the world a goal,but Bego got down,pawed the ball onto the goalpost,and collected the rebound.

On the third occasion it looked as though he might undo all his good work.With sub Djecko heading toward our goal in the last minute of added on time he came out to fast and too far.The striker's gentle lob over the keeper headed toward our open goal.Enter Ryan Shawcross.Our Captain read the situation intelligently,and was already on his way toward goal.It looked as though his pursuit would be in vain,until on the line and at speed,he launched himself,reaching out a long leg to clear at full stretch with the outside of his left foot.Class pure and simple.....Are you watching Woy??

A deserved point then,from a richly entertaining game.Kightly and Adam both looked sound.Of the recent acquisitions though,today,N'Zonzi was the pick,rightly being awarded MOM.Looks a real steal...

Oh and Michael Owen got a 4 minute outing..... 

Monday, September 03, 2012

THAT 'S THE (A)WAY TO DO IT !!

WIGAN ATHLETIC  2  STOKE CITY FC  2

In the early stages of this match you had the distinct feeling that the outcome would be on the dissappointing side.In the early minutes  Robert Huth was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball in the area,setting Wigan on their way with Maloney's penalty conversion.This seemed to set us back more than a little.

Things changed markedly for the better from half an hour in when new signing Charlie Adam replaced the injured Wilkinson.From then on,by our standards, the football flowed.Just before half time Crouch cleverly flicked the ball up and over Figueroa in the Wigan penalty box.The full back handled, Ref Atkinson evened things up,and Jon Walters made no mistake with the resultant penalty striking the ball firmly under  keeper Al Habsi's dive.There was still time before the break for Wilson to hit the Wigan bar with a shot from distance.

With Stoke slow out of the blocks Kone broke upfield,squared the ball across the area to Di Santo,who unerringly stroked the ball beyond Begovic into the corner of the net (49 mins).Stoke got back on terms through some real clever play.

A short  throw in  from the left was nodded over a Wigan defender by Jerome.The ever willing Walters,anticipating, was already on the move into the Wigan area.He took the ball on,flicked it up to his right where Crouch headed home from close range,giving the keeper no chance.

All square and with Stoke in the ascendancy we went for a winner.We so nearly had one too. With 5 minutes to go Adam's powerful shot on goal from a freekick took a deflection of Caldwell.Al Habsi was already diving left,the ball went right,but he still managed to get a hand up to his right to paw the ball away.Univerally acknowledged by all as a wonder save.Jerome followed up but the angle was much too tight for him to make anything of it.

So Stoke away.....creating plenty of chances,scoring two goals in one match,and for two thirds of the match looking likely to get a win,Adam bossing proceedings,things all of sudden begin to look much more promising for us Stokies.

Monday, August 27, 2012

WENGER MANIA SWEEPS POTTERIES AGAIN

STOKE CITY FC 0 ARSENAL 0

There is little doubt that Arsene Wenger is a big favorite in Stoke,a real crowd pleaser if ever I saw one.The match itself was something of a stalemate,no goals,and neither keeper seriously bothered.  

But our Arsene has the ability to liven up proceedings.He did not remonstrate half as much yesterday as he did last April,but he did provide some opportunities for gleeful Stokie mischief.Doing the Wenger was much more fun than the offerings on the pitch.

It might be my imagination but I think I saw Stokie Steve Bould in the Arsenal back four.They showed much greater resolution than on their earlier visit,surely a reflection of Bould's coaching skills and defensive bent.

Wenger has picked up a midfield gem in Cazorla,Stoke ,for their part,have added the talented Cameron to the squad.Both I suspect will make major contributions this season.Both forward lines fired blanks,and not particularly frequently at that.Stoke did have the ball in the net.Walters netted from one of the few clean nod downs that Crouch was permitted,but the would be scorer was adjudged offside.

Pennant should have had a penalty when he was nudged over by Gibbs,but Ref Mason saw nothing amiss.

Honours just about even against the European Championship qualifiers..

Sunday, August 19, 2012

ROYALS RESCUE

READING  1  STOKE CITY FC  1


Stoke opened the season with a visit to newly promoted Reading.Kightley opened his Stoke Premiership goal account with a scuffed shot which stand in keeper Frederici ought to have dealt with.



Reasonably even exchanges followed,with Reading being increasingly influential after the introduction of winger McCleary down the right.



Stoke looked to be coming away from 'The Mad Stad' with all three points until our old Friend Kevin the ref made his customary intervention.In the 90th minute he awarded the home side a penalty red carding the luckless Whitehead.Le Fondre converted the kick.The Royals duly rescued a point.

Monday, May 14, 2012

TONY PULIS' FLYING CIRCUS

STOKE CITY FC  2  BOLTON WANDERERS  2

Not wishing to belittle the effort which our team put into this match,it had many of the ingredients of pure circus.Bolton simply had to win,but nothing looked less likely for the first 35 minutes or so.Stoke's opener,would you believe on THIRTEEN minutes,was pure slapstick.Jon Walters has not been able to buy a goal in recent weeks.Imagine,if you will,two clowns in the circus ring amiably jostling and joshing each other.So it was in the Bolton 6 yard box,Walters,playfully,bumping into Bogdan,the keeper throwing the ball into the net for our amusement,or so it seemed.There were at least 4,000 peoplewho did not see the funny side,most of us felt Ref Foy would be sure to rule the effort out,but he entered into the spirit of things on a fine sunny afternoon.Nothing to see,the goal stood!

In the final 10 minutes of the half we had rich entertainment,side splitting stuff,if you had the humour to cope with it.Kevin Davies hit our bar,Bolton's confidence rose.On 39 minutes they created a kerfuffle in our six yard box.Robert Huth sped to the rescue,gave the ball an almighty clout,directly against Michael Davies' legs.The ball entered our net like a rocket,past bemused keeper Sorensen.You could argue that our Danish international keeper was still in shock six minutes later.Bolton skipper Kevin Davies received the ball far out on our right.There seemed little danger as he launched the ball toward our goal mouth,no other Bolton forward in sight.Sorro rose majestically
extending his arm (as if to acknowledge the crowd) before clattering into the goal post as the ball sailed into the net to give the visitors a halftime lead,and every hope of surviving in the Premiership.

Stoke pushed and probed,Ricardo Fuller took his leave of us,but still no real opening against a poor Bolton defence until 76 minutes.Peter Crouch,who had a pretty good match overall,received the ball in the Bolton penalty area.His shot was well saved by Bogdan,but the ball broke loose,and as Crouch pursued it he was brought down by the keeper,more an accidental tangling of legs rather than a deliberate trip,but a penalty was awarded.

Jon Walters made no mistake,converting from the spot.This,plus news from elsewhere,knocked what little wind there was out of Bolton's sails.After 11 seasons they slipped back into the Championship.For our part the final position 14th in the table on 45 points might be viewed as something of a disappointment.

Still I'm pretty sure its the sort of disappointment Bolton fans could do with right now!!










Thursday, May 10, 2012

AND ANOTHER EARLY POST....MAKE OF IT WHAT YOU WILL

MONDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2006

Ricardo Fuller


A thought or two about Stoke's 26 year old Jamaican forward......

First, at around £500,000, he is beginning to look like a particularly sharp piece of business by Manager Tony Pulis.

Second the way he took his goal against Norwich on Saturday marked something that we have not had at Stoke for a while : a striker who does NOT panic and shoot wildly wide or over the top if the goalmouth beckons.

From our viewpoint on Saturday he seemed to be closed down as he moved along the 6 yard line, not once, but twice. He had the cool and confidence to push the ball each time before popping it skillfully into the net.

Hopefully he will steer clear of injury.....if he does then Pulis's prediction of 15 to 20 goals this season will not be far wide of the mark.

FIRST POST ON HERE ....5½ YEARS AGO

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2006

Leeds Utd 0 Stoke City 4

Died and gone to Heaven.One swallow does not make a summer but....not only did they take the lead today but they had every intention of increasing it by all accounts. No way back for Leeds,unlike teams in earlier away matches this season.Loanees all made a substantial contribution.....and Fuller 2 in 2....if he stays fit could he be our first20 goal a season striker for a good while? Sincerely hope so.

Monday, May 07, 2012

ONE GET OUT OF JAIL CARD PROVIDED.....ANOTHER NEXT SUNDAY?

QUEENS PARK RANGERS  1  STOKE CITY FC  0

Stoke continue to limp toward the finishing line,providing succour to others as they go.This was a must win game for QPR.Now whether the home side were just nervous or just dire it took them along time to overcome a jaded looking Stoke outfit.

Ricardo Fuller,sad to say,is not the player he was before his recent major injury.Two or three seasons ago he was capable of changing the course of a game with his mesmeric skills.I think we have just witnessed the swan song of a fine player,one to whom we owe a great deal.

Cameron Jerome got his wish.He started the game but was unable to deliver the goods on this occasion,before being subbed with 12 minutes to go.His best chance spurned within four minutes of the start.Crouchie and Walters continued below par.

Whilst for the most part sound at the back,restricting QPR to relatively few chances,we were undone late in the day,when Cisse finally netted with a minute of normal time to go .

So one lifeline provided.QPR on 37 points could well escape the drop,even though they face a more than tricky final day fixture at Manchester City.

On 35 points Bolton's position is now desperate,just as Wigan's was when they came to The Brit for the final game last season.

With Wigan and QPR already on 37 points anything less than a win against us and the trapdoor opens for them.

Where would you put your money?

Surely not two escape acts at the same ground,on the last day of successive seasons........

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

EVEN STEVEN AT THE BRIT

STOKE CITY FC  1  EVERTON  1

This was a fair result.Neither side really looked likely to score,despite much hustle and bustle,until Crouch ,as the announcer put it,'unfortunately 'headed the ball into his own net just on the stroke of halftime..Everton nullified Etherington,often with three men marking when he had the ball.

Crouch teamed up with Kenwyne Jones and Walters.The latter made little impression to begin with,but once head-bandaged after a collision, even less seemed to go for him.Everton's strong central pairing got a grip on Crouch,but less so on Jones.Our only real and consistent threat came from Delap long throws.

Stoke did not look like retrieving the situation,until Tony Pulis subbed three players on 67 minutes,with Fuller,Jerome,and Whelan replacing Walters,Crouch,and Delap.The effect was more or less immediate.Jerome received a ball from Upson over the top.He hustled through the attentions of two defenders,driving powerfully down the centre of the field,before shooting over keeper Howard into the net for the equaliser.

Stoke looked a much livelier outfit over the last 20 minutes,with Fuller,Jerome,and Jones in harness.Right at the death a Huth freekick from outside the box could well have brought us the additional two points.Unfortunately from our point of view his goal bound shot was deflected into the grateful arms of keeper Howard.

This point takes up one place to 13th in the table....hopefully it will be lucky for some,as we go into our final two games.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

STOKE CROWD DOING 'THE WENGER' !!!



STOKE CITY FC  1  ARSENAL  1


Stoke cleared their heads after last week's snooze in Geordieland,swiftly getting down to business.Ref Foy,too,got off to a flier unjustly booking Dean Whitehead within 3 minutes.

Early on Arsenal looked uncomfortable faced with the high ball.On 10 minutes Matty Etherington swung over a cross from the left,Peter Crouch was there to meet the ball heading into the Arsenal net to the keeper's left for the opener.

We did not have to wait long for a response from the 3rd placed team.They moved the ball around,probing for a weakness in Stoke's defences.Right back Ryan Shotton proved to be that weakness,as he failed to clear a ball into the crowd.From the resultant loose ball Rosicky was put in possession.He moved a little infield before skillfully clipping the ball into the Stoke box where Van Persie stole in to net past Begovic(15 mins).

Both sides had further chances but could not make anything of them.The pattern was pretty much the same for the whole of the second half.With Huth switching to right back and Upson on for Shotton Stoke looked defensively tighter.Late in the half Jon Walters spurned a chance which he would have gobbled up last season,coming onto the ball from the left,but directing the ball outside Arsenal's right hand post.At the end of the game a 'proper' long throw by Delap himself reached the Arsenal six yard box,caused the customary chaos,but unfortunately for us Sagna was on hand to clear.

Honours even,a fair result,but the real highlight of the afternoon was provided by the crowd.We are all used to seeing Arsene Wenger whinging on the touchline.His frequent protests about real or imagined injustices against his team,gesturing towards an official (or indeed no-one in particular) arms outstretched,palms upwards are familiar.

Imagine 24,000 people, all around the ground ,all making the same gestures in unison each time AW protested.As he became more heated (with increasing frequency too) so the Stokie crowd had their fun,gleefully reflecting his mannerisms back to him (his own reserves on the bench were chuckling too!).Thousands stood,arms outstretched,palms upward 'DOING THE WENGER' !!  Brilliant,absolutely brilliant fun!

I suspect he absolutely hates this fixture!






Saturday, April 21, 2012

SPORTS DIRECT ARENA NON-EVENT

NEWCASTLE UNITED  3  STOKE CITY FC  0

Newcastle very much in form,Stoke coming to the end of a very long season.Newcastle looking sharp and genuine top four material,Stoke looking leggy,and unlikely to rise above their current position.

The difference according to the manager was that Newcastle took their chances,but Stoke did not.The story is a little more complicated than that.As we have seen on several occasions this season our midfield whilst acceptable is not as creative as it needs to be.For Newcastle Tiote and Cabaye outshone our midfielders,the latter notching two goals.

Up front we did have chances,but our finishing lacked sharpness.Not so Newcastle.Although Demba Ba did not reach the heights he scaled at The Brit,his front partner Cisse continued his fine scoring run.

So never really at the races in this one,still14th in the table,still with a target of 50 points.reaching that total is beginning to look problematic.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

HONOURS EVEN AT VILLA PARK

ASTON VILLA  1  STOKE CITY FC  1

One slick move from the home side in the first half was the difference between Stoke taking all three points and the one that they actually got.Throughout the game Stoke looked the stronger team,against a poor Villa outfit.overall the game was mediocre.

Weimann netted for Villa in the 32nd minute. He played a one two with Stephen Ireland on the left, then clipped skillfully over the helpless dive of Begovic  from 20 yards out, the ball dipping into the far corner of the net.

From then on Stoke were mostly in the ascendancy.We had to wait until 71 minutes for that to be translated into goals.Jermaine Pennant, on as sub, collided with Gardner,to earn a freekick from Ref Mike Dean.Pennant crossed the ball into the goalmouth from the left. Huth met the ball,heading powerfully into the net from close range for his second goal in 48 hours.

Monday, April 09, 2012

SAFETY.....NOW FOR THE TOP HALF OF THE TABLE !!

STOKE CITY FC 2 WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1


We didn't get off to the best of starts,with Wolves looking the sharper team. Particularly they put together dangerous thrusts down both flanks with Kightly and Jarvis probing. Begovic's area was not threatened seriously until the 26th minute, when Wolves were gifted the lead . Kightly was allowed to advance towards the Stoke area from the right.His flicked cross was missed by Dave Edwards.This mislead Asmir Begovic, and to his embarassment the ball carried on into the net.

Stoke started to come into the game with Wolves defensive frailty becoming apparent. Eight minutes before half-time Matthew Etherington,s free-kick was only half-cleared. Ryan Shawcross chested the ball to Robert Huth to hammer for a close-range finish through keeper Hennessey's legs.

On 61 minutes Jermaine Pennant was fouled on the right.He took the freekick curving the ball over the Wolves defence to Crouch to the left.His fine header looped over the keeper into the top corner of the net.A fine finish for the winner,41 points,and safety for another season.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

POTTERS SLUMBER AND STUMBLE

WIGAN ATHLETIC  2  STOKE CITY FC  0

This was a  flat and lifeless performance from Stoke,with too many players below their best .The whole game saw the home keeper threatened just twice.Wigan clearly looked to build on their win at Liverpool,moved the ball around confidently,and if anyone was going to score it was going to be them.

The first half finished scoreless although Beausejour ought to have opened Wigan's account.He made amends on 54 minutes,managing a wonderfully firm cross from the left into the Stoke box,where Alcaraz headed crisply into the net.Beausejour found himself with an open goal minutes later but failed to convert.

As Stoke pressed forward in the 4 minutes added on time Wilkinson was sloppy,Moses took the ball from him headed off for goal,rounded Begovic,and with Wilko still in attendance,rolled the ball into the Stoke net ,to put matters beyond doubt.

Crouch and Walters were largely anonymous.Etherington was taken out of the game once more.Pennant had one or two good touches.The midfield was simply not good enough,seemingly incapable of mounting any threat.Our passing at times would best be described as slipshod.

Jerome and Palacios coming on as subs injected a little more energy and purpose.The other sub Ricardo Fuller was hardly seen until the last couple of minutes.He wriggled his way to the byline,cut the ball across.In the resultant chaos the ball came back to him.A short pass to Jerome provided an excellent chance of an equaliser,but he skied the ball over the net.

Some stats,which if we had studied them closely would have provided pointers to the outcome of this game.

Wigan had only won once at home this season,way back last August.
This was the first time this season that they had won two matches on the bounce.
When did they do that the last time? You guessed..the last two games of last season....courtesy of...STOKE!!

So this leaves us 13th on 38 points.We really didn't look up for this one!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

PETER CROUCH.....PREMIERSHIP GOAL OF THE SEASON??

STOKE CITY FC  1  MANCHESTER CITY  1







Well this was a game which was not for the purist ( witness BBC commentator - I'll be as lazy not bothering to remember his name  as he was lazy describing events - the gist of which was not much of a game,scrappy) but what we were treated to was end to end stuff,plenty of excitment, the visiting fans adding tremendously to the pulsating atmosphere inside The Brit.

Our commentator was clearly at a different match than the one that we attended,the editors,as ever doing Stoke no favours.But then again we should be pleased that we were not last up ( I know, because its Man City, not us!!) because some of the comments suggested that we ought to have been.

Both sides defended when they had to,but both probed continually for openings,and there was no doubt that right to the final whistle both were going for the win.

Roberto Mancini's team is full of clever players,some of whom seem sometimes that they cannot be bothered,before suddenly bursting into life to cause a real threat.One such was Balotelli,who really does not like The Brit or its denizens.We couldn't manage any snow for him this visit,but the fading Spring sunlight and warmth persuaded him to up his game only occasionally.Yaya Toure is without doubt our Man City bogeyman,some player though.He ambles about from side to side,before sliding a killer pass in toward goal,or even bursting into goalward sprint,which takes those around him by surprise.Silva is a class act,but today was knocked off his game by a collision with Dean Whitehead.

Stoke worked hard and made chances which they were again unable to take.John Walters shot wide of the post again when in on goal,but,that said,he was a thorn in the visitors side throughout,involved in much link play.Cameron Jerome was busy,his highlight being an attempted bicycle kick when faced with an open goal.No real contact,but a bold effort.

Peter Crouch impresses me more each time I see him play.His instant control of the ball,his hold up play,his ability to see what is on ,are first class.Going forward so much seems to revolve around him.BUT ABOVE ALL HE HAS THE ABILITY TO PRODUCE THE UNEXPECTED.

Now when Begovic punts the ball out to the edge of the opposing penalty area to a Stoke striker we've got used to a header on for someone to chase.What we got in the 59th minute yesterday was SPECIAL.Peter Crouch took the force out of the keepers kick with a gentle nod on to Jermain Pennant.He nodded the ball back.Ball still in the air,Crouch flicked it up a little,before volleying right footed,from at least 25 yards out.The ball looped over helpless England keeper Hart into the far corner of the net.A BRILLIANT GOAL FROM OPEN PLAY BY A STOKE PLAYER.So exciting that some Stoke fans celebrated with a 'POZNAN'!!

For 20 minutes Man City probed without being able to convert the chances they were carving out.It was beginning to look as though it might be our day,until Yaya Toure stirred himself,centrefield,and mustered a shot from well outside the penalty area.Begovic was wrong footed when Shawcross got a deflecting touch on
the ball.Although the keeper adjusted,getting both hands to the ball,he could not keep it out of the net (79mins).

A further 15 minutes were played,both sides chasing the win.Stoke sub Palacios was in the thick of it bursting forward on three occasions,and also shooting narrowly over at the death.

No Cup revenge this time,but a well earned point,and 12th in the table.

Crouch goal.... |Linky Thing to .gif

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

STOKE SO NEARLY REGISTER THEIR FIRST DOUBLE AGAINST SPURS



TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS 1  STOKE CITY FC 1

Stoke arrived at White Hart Lane where Saturday’s traumatic event was fresh and raw. Warming was the shared hope expressed by the teams for a full recovery for Fabrice Muamba, and also the prolonged applause from the crowd.

Stoke gave as good as they got for the first 25 minutes or so, with good chances falling to Cameron Jerome and Peter Crouch. Spurs gradually came into the picture, and were in control as the half came to an end.

The Potters held firm from the beginning of the second period, growing in strength. Spurs were clearly frustrated, pushing men forward in an effort to break through the Stoke rearguard. Stoke themselves looked increasingly strong on the break.

We were well worth our goal on 74 minutes. A freekick from the left outside the Spurs penalty area, was flighted in beautifully by Jermaine Pennant. It seemed as though Robert Huth got a head on the ball, but it was a lightening dart forward from Jerome that culminated in him stretching out a foot to push the ball into the net between keeper Friedel and his post.

Despite some, but hardly concerted, Spurs pressure, we looked likely to take three points, until 3 minutes into the 6 minutes of added on time, when Bale fired in a dangerous cross which Van der Vaart headed home to take a share of the points.

Still one point means we’re up to 11th again. Time to take Man City on with confidence on Saturday,blacksheep Tevez an’ all.

Monday, March 12, 2012

WHY,WHY WHY....RICARDO?

Chelsea are not the team they used to be at the moment.The team rebuild that Villas-Boas was attempting is no more,unwisely I suspect.Di Matteo is unlikely to be given the time or money for the major surgery that is necessary.His inclination for this match was to bring back into the side some of the players who have caused AVB to fall short.

Stoke, you felt,had their best chance to take points away from Stamford Bridge since promotion to the Premiership.Certainly,looking at the teamsheet they were set  to do so.We rode our luck early doors,looked to be blunting the home side's edge,when Ricaro Fuller - so often our saviour over six wonderful years - applied a one man wrecking ball to our masterplan.

So often he has turned a game in our favour with his magical skills, close control,and eye for goal.Selected to start the game perhaps he could snatch a goal from nothing as he has done so often.No-one who has seen him play could have been in any doubt that he has a short fuse.

Only he can know what was going through his mind,when, following several niggles with Serbian defender Ivanovic,following a further challenge on 25 minutes, our man turned back and stamped on his man.An immediate red card,and realistically an end to our chances of getting anything from this match.

Chelsea were poor,taking a further 40 minutes to break the ten men down.Mata put Drogba in to score from close range on 65 minutes.