Stoke battle for a draw with PSV
Stoke City 0 PSV Eindhoven 0
Stoke City earned a creditable draw against Dutch champions, PSV Eindhoven at the Britannia Stadium thanks to some fine saves from keeper, Steve Simonsen.
Far from being the dour pre-season game that the score line suggests, Tuesday night's match against PSV was played at good tempo by both sides on a hot and humid night as Tony Pulis fielded his likely first choice eleven for the start of the new season. Sole new signing, Vincent Pericard made his home debut.
PSV fielded a strong team although several world cup players were missing as they had only returned to training at the start of the week. Both teams were determined from the start to ensure that this would be a good workout. PSV's quality and strength showed early on with Arouna Kone and Ibrahaim Afellay in particular looking dangerous up front and causing no end of problems for the Potters' defence. Steve Simonsen had to pull off three excellent saves in the first half to stop PSV from taking the lead, including one from Kone that looked goal bound after he had got past a line of defenders and nearly sent Simonsen the wrong way before the Stoke keeper was able to palm the shot away from close range.
Stoke went in at half time lucky to be still on level terms and most fans were expecting PSV to turn up the pressure in the second half, but it was Stoke that started to fight back with chances to roam into the visitors' penalty area becoming more frequent and managing to shore up the defence far better than in the first half.
After 70 minutes, Pulis began to bring on the first of seven substitutes including John Eustace who received a rapturous welcome after injuries have blighted his career for nearly two seasons.
Luke Chadwick and Martin Paterson both had great chances on goal, the former jinked past two defenders but instead of shooting, passed to Sigurdsson who wasted the opportunity whilst Paterson found himself clear on goal with just the keeper to beat before succumbing to a late offside decision from the assistant referee.
In the closing minutes, Pericard had a possible shout for a penalty dismissed after being dragged down and PSV had a couple of very late shots on goal which narrowly missed their target.
Certainly a 0-0 draw will only stir the manager's many critics into more "I told you so's", but this was far from a drab goalless pre-season friendly. More work is definitely needed. Stoke's defence was exposed on more than one occasion and the dearth of good strikers drew parallels with England's front-line problems in the World Cup.
With World Cup star Chris Birchall watching the game from the stands with ex-schoolmate Andy Wilkinson, it was also good to see that at least one Port Vale player realises that there is some decent football to be seen somewhere in the Potteries as he comes back down to earth with the realities of life in Burslem.
Stoke City: Simonsen, Hoefkens, Duberry (c), Hill, Broomes (Dickinson, 72); Chadwick (Harper, 77) Brammer (Pulis, 77), Russell (Henry, 77), Sweeney (Eustace, 77), Sidibe (Sigurdsson, 72), Pericard (Paterson, 80)
Subs (not used): Thomas, Duggan, Hazley, Garrett, Buxton, Kopteff
PSV Eindhoven: Gomes, Reiziger, Da Costa, Alex (Ball, 45), Lamey, Simons (c), Afellay (Vayrynen, 62), Farfan, Aissati (Feher, 77) Kone, Beasley (Beerens, 62)
Subs (not used): Moens, Smit, De Bock.