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Stoke need to keep believing

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Stoke City

Fratton Park

Sunday 5th October 2008

Attendance: 19,248


Stoke failed to turn chances into goals yet again and allowed Pompey, 'fresh' from a tough UEFA match in Portugal on Thursday night to capitalise on their chances in front of goal. Dave Kitson had the best chance for Stoke early on and should have opened Stoke's (and his) account but fired wide trying to get it past James. If truth be told, the scoreline could have been worse but for some great saves from reserve keeper, Steve Simonsen after Thomas Sorensen had been laid low by a late bout of flu. But at least one of the goals may have been prevented had Simo not dithered before Peter Crouch could turn his 6' 7" frame into a human Catherine wheel and fire the ball past the stranded keeper for the first goal just before the half hour.

Stoke were at least grateful for the return of Rory Delap from injury. His long throws are now so legendary that any Premier League defence just seems to panic at the mere thought of having to put the ball out within 25 yards of the corner flag. But, whilst trying to dismiss any notion of the Potters kit-bag being reduced to a single (albeit very dangerous) weapon, it was Delap who created Stoke's equaliser just minutes into the second half restart. His throw was helped into the penalty area by Dave Kitson and Ric Fuller managed to rise higher than David James, who could just wave his arms in desperation as he headed the ball down and into the net to the obvious relief of the Stoke fans behind the goal.

But with Pompey enjoying the talents of two England strikers, it was Jermain Defoe's turn to batter the Stoke goal within seconds of the restart as a long shot rebounded off the inside of the goal post with Simo miles away. From that lucky escape, Stoke failed to heed the warning and just a minute later, Defoe had another chance which sneaked just out of Simo's reach and into the net to put the home side back in front.

Stoke are having to learn the hard way that life in the Prem is tough. It's all very well to hear the TV pundits say that Stoke were unlucky and played well, that we've played six of the last season's top 10 teams in the first seven games, but defeats still don't come easy and we need to make sure that they don't become habit-forming when the real 'six pointers' arrive. Next up is one of those very important games with the visit of Spurs to the Brit in two weeks and who would have thought that Tottenham would have been propping up the table? All we need now is to hope that they don't decide to have a change of manager before their visit to the Brit...

Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Belhadj, Diop, Davis, Hughes, Armand Traore (Hreidarsson 90), Crouch, Defoe.
Subs not used: Ashdown, Little, Kanu, Hreidarsson, Kaboul, Mvuemba, Pamarot.

Stoke City: Simonsen, Griffin, Cort, Abdoulaye Faye, Higginbotham, Delap (Cresswell 73), Olofinjana, Amdy Faye, Tonge (Soares 65), Fuller, Kitson (Sidibe 61)
Subs not used: Whelan, Shawcross, Wilkinson, Sonko

Star Player

It always worries me when I want to name the keeper as the MotM as it implies that rest of the defence weren't doing enough to prevent the ball getting as far as the 11th man - which was not the case. Whether Thomas Sorensen would have done a better job with the two Pompey goals is a point that can be discussed for ever, but Steve Simonsen was the man with the task on the day and he certainly helped to keep the scoreline down with some fine saves.

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Writer:Chris Baldwin
Date:Monday October 6 2008
Time: 9:18PM

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The scoreline makes it look closer than it was. I think you were well beaten especially with us having just come back from a tough away game in Europe. You won't survive, you can't rely just on Delap's throw ins. You need skillul players, not just graft.
06/10/2008 21:58:00
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League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
1 Leicester City 35 22 10 3 76 30
2 Spurs 35 19 12 4 69 39
3 Man City 35 19 7 9 64 32
4 Arsenal 35 18 10 7 64 24
5 Man Utd 34 17 8 9 59 12
6 West Ham 34 14 14 6 56 14
7 Liverpool 34 15 10 9 55 13
8 Southampton 35 15 9 11 54 12
9 Chelsea 34 12 11 11 47 7
10 Stoke 35 13 8 14 47 -14
11 Everton 34 9 14 11 41 5
12 Watford 34 11 8 15 41 -7
13 WBA 35 10 11 14 41 -11
14 AFC Bournemouth 35 11 8 16 41 -19
15 Swansea 35 10 10 15 40 -15
16 Crystal Palace 35 10 9 16 39 -9
17 Sunderland 34 7 10 17 31 -18
18 Norwich 34 8 7 19 31 -25
19 Newcastle 35 7 9 19 30 -26
R Aston Villa 35 3 7 25 16 -44
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