Stoke beaten but not down
Sunday 19th February 2006
Stoke exited this year's FA Cup campaign in a tight game at the Brit whilst playing some of their best football since the start of the year. But they still seem to find it difficult to hit the back of the net and squandered some of the best chances of the game from both sides before falling to an easy goal just after the break.
Michael Duberry, Carl Hoefkens and Sam Bangoura all had decent chances to put the Potters ahead but were denied by some good goalkeeping from Birmingham keeper, Maik Taylor.
Both Bangoura and Sidibe shrugged off the pain of a broken hand and nose respectively to take to the field and, for once, the whole Stoke team pulled together to deny Birmingham any substantial chances in the first half, whilst creating several of their own, culminating in a tremendous volley from Hoefkens from outside the penalty area, which was curling into the top right hand corner of the net until Taylor managed to palm it away for a corner.
After the interval, many Stoke fans had not even found their way back from the bar before Birmingham had gone ahead after a corner was not cleared and Forsell was able to tap in from 2 yards.
Further chances were squandered with Duberry's header from a corner being well saved again by Taylor and a few minutes later Bangoura found himself with space to spare on the six yard line and tamely shot straight into Taylor's hands.
Hoefkens, Hill, Duberry and Broomes all performed well in defence and apart from the lapse of concentration when Forsell scored, had no real problems coping with Heskey and Forsell, whilst Junior probably had his best game in a red and white shirt.
Stoke's inability to both defend set pieces and take advantage of them (the Potters gained 10 corners) is something that the Manager has recognised he needs to address.
Whether Johan Boskamp will be given any further opportunities to make those changes by the Board or whether that task will fall to a new Manager is something we'll just have to wait and see.