Friday, November 30, 2012

Kicked in the potteries

Stoke City 2 - 1 Newcastle Utd

Of all the places that we could have gone on the back of a terrible run of results and the nadir of our performance against Southamption, the last option on the list would probably be the Britannia Stadium.

With further injuries mounting after our last match, the Silver Fox was able to welcome back Sideshow Bob for the the hamstrung Saylor and also bring back Perchinho into central midfield.

Hearteningly, what transpired in the first half was a committed performance in which we more than matched the home side in a display as far removed from the insipid game at the weekend as possible. Sideshow Bob's clash of heads with Peter Crouch saw the shit Andy Carroll depart the field and head straight for bed to make a small fortune from the tooth fairy. The closest either side came to a goal was Mike Williamson deflecting the ball onto our own post.

Unchanged at half time, we managed to nick a goal when Mr T won the ball in midfield and passed it to Demba Ba. Our in-form striker strode forward and launched a thirty-yard shot at goal, which Begovic couldn't hold and Papiss Cisse was on hand to slot the rebound home and give us a lead.

As the second half unfolded, while we came under pressure, we continued to look solid with both Cisse and Ba seeing shots well saved by Begovic as we sought to catch Stoke on the break. Unfortunately, we then contrived to take our eye well and truly off the ball and with ten minutes left of the game conceded two goals in quick succession, both of which could have been avoided with some better defending.

Firstly we allowed Jon Walters too much time on the ball and he flicked the ball out wide for substitute Cameron Jerome. Again we failed to close him down and his cross was met by Walters to nod a free header past Krul (a free header because nobody tracked the run). With our lead gone we suddenly looked shaky and minutes later ex-Mackem Kenwyne Jones beat Williamson to a header, knocking the ball down into the path of the onrushing Jerome to slot home a winner. All the more galling was the fact that when the long ball was fired forward Jerome had been ten yards behind Sideshow Bob, only to accelerate away from him as our returning captain was caught ball-watching.

From there, with limited options on the bench, the Silver Fox was left to scrape the bottom of the barrel and throw on the Lone Ranger for a five minute burst in place of Cisse.

Looking for positives, apart from a five-minute spell in which we forgot how to defend, we actually played pretty well. Perchinho returned to fitness (albeit managing to pick up the booking which rules him out of the Wigan game) and Sideshow Bob also came back into the side. Cisse scored a goal which can only help his confidence and Vurnon Anita again enjoyed a decent game.

However, we still lost and the Wigan game is definitely one from which we need to get something.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

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