Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Sunday March 9 2008
8th March 2008
Stoke grabbed a last minute penalty to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat at the Brit.
Tony Pulis rang the changes and brought in Carlo Nash for his debut at the expense of Steve Simonsen. He also gave Ryan Shawcross a seat on the bench to allow Chris Riggott his first start in a Stoke shirt. Rory Delap returned from his one match ban to replace the suspended Glenn Whelan in midfield.
Burnley gave a rare start to former Stoke favourite, Ade Akinbiyi, playing alongside his former Potters' teammate, James O'Connor.
Stoke started with purpose and had a chance within seconds of the start with Liam Lawrence nearly setting Richard Cresswell up with a shot, but it was the visitors who made the best start with a move from O'Connor and Akinbiyi that carved through the Potters' defence and gave Lafferty an easy goal past Nash.
Stoke huffed and puffed throughout the first half, with Mamady Sidibe wasting a great opportunity with a shot that should have at least tested the keeper. Burnley's best chance came from Akinbiyi, who should have buried the ball into the back of the net from four yards out, but decided to pass the ball sideways to allow Nash to save - maybe he still has red and white blood flowing through his veins?
The second half saw more resolve from the Potters who watched several chances go begging. The best came from Ricardo Fuller who was through on goal and would normally have had no difficulty slotting it just past the keeper into the net, but this time the ball just wandered wide of the post.
Stoke maintained possession well and Burnley did not unduly trouble our debutant keeper, but the lack of luck and another dreadful performance from a Premier League referee - this time Howard Webb - make it look as though we were going to go down to our third consecutive defeat.
But one thing that you can't say about this Stoke side is that they give up. Within, literally, the last minute of the game, Richard Cresswell was upended in the Clarets' penalty area and Mr. Webb pointed to the spot. Liam Lawrence stepped up and slotted the ball under the diving Burnley keeper and into the net. In fact, TV replays showed that the ball rebounded off the post and hit Kiraly to then go into the net. The purists may debate whether it was an own goal, but it was the one piece of luck the Potters had all afternoon and Lawrence thoroughly deserved it and is sure to claim the goal for himself.
Stoke then went hunting a late winner and two good shots from sub, Paul Gallagher could have given Stoke an unlikely winner, but with all eleven Claret shirts in their penalty area, the ball ricocheted wide on both occasions.
Stoke City: Nash, Griffin, Riggott, Cort, Pugh, Lawrence, Diao (Parkin 84), Delap, Cresswell, Sidibe (Gallagher 70), Fuller.
Subs not used: Simonsen, Shawcross, Wilkinson.
Booked: Diao, Cresswell, Lawrence.
Burnley: Kiraly, Alexander, Carlisle, Varga, Harley, Elliott, James O'Connor, Randall (Mahon 63), Lafferty (Spicer 78), Blake, Akinbiyi (Cole 81).
Subs not used: Jensen, Unsworth.
Booked: Lafferty, Harley.
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Date:Sunday March 9 2008
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