Writer: Charlie Bennett
Date:Sunday October 19 2008
19th October 2008
Stoke picked up a crucial victory in a bottom of the table clash against Tottenham at the Britannia Stadium. Two goals either side of half time from Danny Higginbotham and Rory Delap proved to be too much for Spurs who played much of the game 1 man less. Darren Bent drew them level with a scrappy goal after Stoke fell apart as soon as they went 1-0 up.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis made 5 changes from the side that lost to Portsmouth with Thomas Sorensen, Ibrahima Sonko, Salif Diao, Mamady Sidibe and the debuting Tom Soares all thrown into the mix. Steve Simonsen, Leon Cort, Amdy Faye, Michael Tonge and Ricardo Fuller were all dropped from the first 11.
Both sides started brightly with good passing and movement and it was Stoke who had the first chance after 6 minutes. A bursting diagonal run from Rory Delap caught the defence unaware and being unselfish he squared the ball across to Soares whose side footed effort was dealt with comfortable by keeper Heurelho Gomes.
The first Delap throw in of the afternoon was fisted away form Gomes who seemed to deal well with the threat on the majority of occasions.
Stoke hit the front after Gareth Bale was caught in possession by the lightning fast Soares, and as he attempted to redeem himself he only succeeded in bundling him down in the box. The result was a Stoke penalty and a straight red for the Welsh defender. Danny Higginbotham volunteered with both Fuller and Lawrence absent and he kept his nerve with an expertly placed penalty.
Stoke seemed to freeze when given the opportunity of taking the game to a team bottom of the table and down to 10 men. Tottenham capitalized with a scrappy goal in the shape of 16 million pound striker Darren Bent, after good work down the right from Alan Hutton his deflected shot looped over to Bent who managed to squeeze the ball through Sorensen`s legs to bring the game level again.
Tottenham took a strangle hold on the rest of the first half with Croatian star Luka Modric pulling the strings in midfield. His shot went wide of the post as his and Tottenham`s confidence grew. Stoke fans seemed to grow a little frustrated after Modric again fired wide, they weren`t the only ones as Sorensen rushed form his goal to try and spark his team into life.
Aaron Lennon started to get some of the ball and put it to good use when he left Griffin for dead and sprinted to goal only for the defence to clear their lines. Lennon again had a shot from 20 yards that Sorensen dealt with at the second attempt.
Neither side shone in the opening minutes after half time before Stoke edged in front once again. A great team goal that was rounded off by throw in provider Rory Delap. Soares played the ball out right to Sidibe and with no pass available he curled a splendid ball across goal, the Tottenham rear guard weren`t able to do anything about the quality of the cross as Delap arrived right on cue at the far post to tap into a empty net.
Stoke started pressing for another as Fuller came on to replace the quiet Dave Kitson and they won a number of corners and more throw-ins for Delap. This started off a trend of injuries that dampened the mood in the electric Britannia stadium, first off was Stoke`s Thomas Sorensen after being caught in the face in a 50/50 challenge he was replaced by fan favourite Steve Simonsen. Verdran Corluka was in a more serious incident after a Delap throw in he was kneed in the head by his own goalkeeper, he departed on a stretcher with an oxygen mask. Last to go was Stoke centre back Ibrahima Sonko as he tweaked his knee and was replaced by another fan favourite Ryan Shawcross.
Stoke should have scored a third after Soares darted beyond Woodgate, the experienced defender took him down and the referee pointed to the spot for a second time. Fuller stepped up and sent his penalty to the goalkeepers left only to see it cannon the inside of the post and role agonisingly across the line hit the other post and rolled out, Delap was quickest to react and his left foot pile drive hit the bar and went over.
Tottenham hopes of equalising were dashed as Corluka`s replacement Michael Dawson was sent off for a double footed tackle on Sidibe. Fuller almost then made amends for the penalty as a beautiful individual effort of skill saw him past 3 defenders and crack a shot from 20 yards that crashed onto the cross bar.
Stoke saw out the 11 minutes of stoppage time and took the 3 points that lifts them one place to 18th but only 3 points of 10th placed West Brom. Next up is a testing trip to Eastland`s to face a Manchester City side full of skill and packed with individuals that are capable of doing anything at anytime.
As for Tottenham cries of "you`re getting sacked in the morning" rang around the ground at different points of the match, and after a performance like they gave this afternoon, manager Juande Ramos will be waiting anxiously for his fate to be decided.
Overall an impressive second half from Stoke that will build their confidence and they will look to take that to Man City next weekend.
Stoke City: Sorensen (Simonsen 64), Griffin, (c), Abdoulaye Faye, Sonko (Shawcross 83), Higginbotham, Soares, Diao, Olofinjana, Delap, Sidibe, Kitson (Fuller 55).
Subs not used: Whelan, Cresswell, Amdy Faye, Tonge.
Tottenham: Gomes, Hutton, Corluka (Dawson 77), Woodgate, Bale, Lennon, Bentley (Pavlyuchenko 58), Zokora, Jenas (c), Modric, Bent.
Subs not used: Sanchez, Assou-Ekotto, Huddlestone, O`Hara, Campbell.
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Date:Sunday October 19 2008
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