2016 - 2017

2016 - 2017

Sunday, December 30, 2012



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



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



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



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



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



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.........