Hairy-Scary Stoke - part 2
15th February 2008
Same scoreline as Tuesday night's visit of the Saints to the Brit, but Stoke reversed the script with a dreadful first half display that gifted the visitors two goals, included a 13th goal of the season for former Potter, Martin Paterson, followed by the comeback of all comebacks as Stoke scored three goals in a blistering fifteen minutes after the restart to confirm their place at the top of the Championship.
Two goals from Liam Lawrence and one from Richard Cresswell sealed all three points for the Potters and condemned Scunny to remain at the foot of the table. But for over 50 minutes, you wouldn't have put any money on it...
Tony Pulis named the same starting eleven that hung on to a 3-2 victory against Southampton on Tuesday night with Richard Cresswell returning to the subs' bench after his two match ban. But Stoke seemed to be stuck in the same first gear as in the final 45 minutes on Tuesday when they conceded two goals, but still managed to hang on to win.
The Iron were in great form, harried Stoke at every opportunity and refusing to let the Potters control the game which left many observers wondering how they were in such a precarious league position. Martin Paterson was the main driving force in Scunny's attack, so it was of no surprise that he took them into a 1-0 lead after just seven minutes. It just seemed destined to be, but Pato (a Stokie through and through) failed to join in the celebrations after he had slipped past the Stoke defence and pushed the ball wide of Steve Simonsen. The Iron's second goal fell to Hobbs in the 23rd minute as Stoke's evening started to fall apart. The first half ended to a chorus a boos from Stoke fans as the dream of top spot seemed to be receding.
Whatever was said in the dressing room at half-time must have come from the same coaching manual as Southampton's team talk in midweek, for the Potters seemed instantly refreshed and revitalised. Even the one goal hero, Mamady Sidibe fired a good shot that went just narrowly wide just after the restart, but it was Liam Lawrence who gave the Potters real hope. A Rory Delap trademark throw on 53 minutes into the penalty area found Lawrence who calmly fired the ball into the back of the net. 1-2, hope was back on the agenda.
Pulis seemed to have been planning to bring on Jon Parkin just before the goal, but instead instantly replaced Salif Diao, who is clearly not yet match-fit, with Richard Cresswell, to add some extra creativity to midfield. Just two minutes later it seemed that the dream was still on, but after Fuller had bundled the ball in a packed 6 yard area, the linesman signalled off-side. But if some fans thought that was that, how wrong they were. On 63 minutes, super-sub Cresswell was on the end of a Fuller cross and managed to coax the ball over the line. 2-2, the dream returns.
By now, Scunthorpe were shattered and could offer little by way of reply as the Potters continued to press for the winner as 20,000 Stoke fans cheered on their team.
The winner arrived in the 67th minute, courtesy of Ricardo Fuller. Some great skill saw him weave his way along the goal line to the six yard box before passing the ball to Lawrence who tapped the ball into the back of the net. 3-2, Delirium, ecstasy, the dream becomes reality.
Dreadful first half? What first half....? All I want to remember is the stunning final 45 minutes.
Yet another Pulis Hairy-Scary game, but if there's many more like the two games this week, the St. John Ambulance will have their work cut out tending to the heart attack victims in the Boothen End.
Stoke City: Simonsen, Griffin, Shawcross, Cort, Pugh, Lawrence, Diao (Cresswell 54), Whelan, Delap, Sidibe, Fuller (Zakuani 90)
Subs not used: Hoult, Parkin, Gallagher
Scunthorpe United: Murphy, Butler, Hobbs, Crosby, Williams, Sparrow (May 90), Goodwin, Cork, Morris (Forte 83), Horsfield (Hayes 51), Paterson
Subs not used: Lillis, Iriekpen