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