12th Feb 2008
Stoke earned a good win against Southampton, but not before gifting the Saints the real chance of a comeback after the Potters had ended the first half 3-0 up.
First half goals (all from set piece corner kicks) from Powell (og), Ryan Shawcross and that elusive first goal of the season for Mamady Sidibe gave the 19,500 fans good reason of hope for a goal-fest at the Brit. But not for the time this season, Stoke forgot the old maxim that 'football is a game of two halves'. Whilst the Saints were getting a rollicking from their stand-in managerial double act, the Potters believed the job was done and left their brains in the dressing room.
Ten seconds into the second half, they found out how wrong they were when Stern John fired the Saints back into the game and then brought them back into touching distance just nine minutes later to make the score 3-2. John had several other chances to bring them back on to level terms, including one which was only denied by a great save from Steve Simonsen.
The referee was poor, but was not helped by Saints' players surrounding him every time he blew the whistle. Indeed, the visitors' tactics appeared to consist solely of attempting to wind up Ricardo Fuller at every opportunity, but Ric nearly resisted all temptation, ending up being booked for the culmination of several petty squabbles within minutes of the end of the match.
The Potters' second half performance brought back vivid memories of the home match against QPR last November: Click here for the QPR match report
Although I'll give some credit to the team for regaining the momentum for the final fifteen minutes, Tony Pulis must try and instill some discipline in the team so that they know that they must dig in for the entire 90 minutes, not just coasting when they think they've done the job. Too many times this season we've been ahead, then sat back and invited the other team to come at us, forcing us to defend in our penalty area. Whenever that happens accidents can, and do, happen.
Still a win is a win and certainly for the neutral made the first half cruise into an entertaining second half battle. No wonder Pulis told the press after the match that 'Games will be like that, it`ll be hairy-scary between now and the end of the season.'
I can hear Scunny's manager now, plotting his tactics for Friday's match at the Brit: 'We'll let them score a couple of goals, lull them into a false sense of security and then we'll unleash Pato for a hat-trick.'
It would be comical if I thought it would not happen again....
Stoke City: Simonsen, Griffin, Cort, Shawcross, Pugh, Lawrence (Zakuani 87), Delap, Diao, Whelan, Sidibe, Fuller
Subs not used: Hoult, Parkin, Gallagher, Pericard
Southampton: Davis, Davies (Wright-Phillips 80), Powell, Ostlund, Wright, Viafara, Surman, Saganowski, Idiakez (McGoldrick 88), Euell, John
Subs not used: Hammill, Lallana, James