Writer: Charlie Bennett
Date:Sunday August 24 2008
23rd August 2008
Stoke recorded their first ever victory in the premier league with a dramatic 3-2 win against midland rivals Aston Villa. Mamady Sidibe's extra time winner sent potters fans delirious after an emotional roller-coaster of an afternoon unfolded in front of a near packed Britannia stadium.
Tony Pulis made 5 changes to the team that suffered defeat at the hands of Bolton with new signings Abdoulaye Faye and Amdy Faye thrown straight into the first team. There were also first starts of the season for Ricardo Fuller, Liam Lawrence and Carl Dickinson, and also home debuts for Thomas Sorensen, Seyi Olofinjana and Dave Kitson. Ryan Shawcross, Andy Wilkinson, Glenn Whelan, Richard Cresswell and Mama Sidibe all made way.
Stoke started the much brighter side with Amdy Faye heading a Delap throw in wide after just 60 seconds. Villa seemed to be caught cold in the opening minutes while the midfield partnership of Olofinjana and Amdy Faye looked very promising with both players winning every tackle they went in for.
Although Stoke were piling the pressure onto the Villa back four, experienced centre-back Martin Laursen was frantically trying to prevent Stoke taking the lead by just getting in front of Leon Cort and diverting Lawrence`s corner away from danger.
As the first half progressed Villa started to feel a lot more confident and almost took the lead when Norwegian striker John Carew kept possession well before placing a shot beyond Sorensen that just went the other side of the far post. This seemed to spur on Martin O`Neil`s side with last weeks hat trick hero Gabriel Agbonlahor leading the charge. He worked himself into the box and almost got a penalty when he went down under the challenge of Stoke`s Olofinjana.
Stoke responded with 2 penalty claims of their own. Firstly Ricardo Fuller stretched the villa defence before being knocked down only to see referee Mike Halsey wave his claims away. Fortunately for Stoke Rory Delap was quickest to the ball and when he tried to turn inside Laursen on the by line, the Danish defender took away his trailing leg to leave ref Halsey with no option but to blow his whistle and point to the spot. This left Liam Lawrence the task to try and put the potters ahead but in his way was recently signed goalkeeper Brad Friedel.
Lawrence struck the ball to Friedel`s right but even though the American guessed correctly the penalty was to well placed to keep out. City fans went wild and wheeled in delight as they found themselves a goal up with 5 minutes until half time. Fuller tried his hardest to grab a second before the break but he blazed his shot way over the near post.
Stoke started the brighter after the break and looked set upon adding to their one goal advantage. Hopes were scuppered though just after the hour when Carew played a nice one-two with Ashley Young before firing beyond former team-mate Sorensen to level the scores. Villa were then pressing for a second and Gareth Barry almost delivered but couldn't quite connect with Ashley Young`s cross.
Stoke took the lead again after a moment of brilliance from Ricardo Fuller, after receiving a pass from Lawrence he turned and flicked the ball beyond captain Martin Laursen before sprinting almost as fast as Jamaica`s Gold Medal Winning Relay Team to the ball. As he bore down on goal the recovering Laursen forced him wider then he would have liked, but this didn`t faze Fuller as he struck his shot across Friedel and into the far corner and giving Stoke the lead with 9 minutes to go
But just as chants of Delilah were quietening down Villa were awarded a dangerous free-kick 25 yards out. Ashley Young totally bamboozled the defence by striking the ball underneath the jumping wall, unfortunately after a couple of deflections it arrived at the feet of Laursen who gladly took full advantage of the chance to equalize.
During the last 5 minutes Villa were sitting back and playing out for a draw, but this only encouraged Stoke to come and have a go at snatching 3 points at the death. Fans prayers were answered when a long Delap throw landed on the head of the rising Sidibe who flicked into the opposite corner to give Stoke a dramatic last gasp victory.
Cheers raised the roof at the Britannia as Stoke climb to 14th place in the table and momentarily ahead of champions Manchester United. Next Stoke face a difficult away game at Middlesbrough while Villa entertain Liverpool.
Stoke City: Sorensen, Griffin (c), Cort, Abdoulaye Faye, Dickinson, Lawrence, Olofinjana, Amdy Faye (Diao 72), Fuller (Cresswell 87), Kitson (Sidibe 75)
Subs not used: Simonsen, Shawcross, Wilkinson, Whelan
Aston Villa: Friedel, Luke Young, Laursen (c), Davies, Shorey (Routledge 72), Petrov, Reo-Coker, Barry, Ashley Young, Carew, Agbonlahor.
Subs not used: Taylor, Knight, Osbourne, Gardner, Salifou, Harewood
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Date:Sunday August 24 2008
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