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