Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Tuesday March 14 2006
13th March 2006, 7.45pm
The fact that it was bitterly cold sleety night in front of the lowest attendance this season summed up this latest episode in Stoke's dismal start to 2006.
Some may put the low attendance down to the weather and the fact that it was live on Sky, but this is part of downhill slope that Stoke have been sliding down since Christmas, both on and off the pitch.
It's time for the board to face up to reality and face up to Boskamp. He sorts out his managerial feud or he goes - now!
In the match itself, Stoke started brightly and for the first half hour could have gone ahead. Bangoura, Duberry and Broomes all had good chances. Particularly Marlon Broomes volley from outside the penalty area, which forced Kiraly into making a great save by tipping the ball past the post.
But it was not one way traffic, there were chances at both ends with Simonsen having to save from a McAnuff volley from outside the penalty area.
Just after the half hour, Palace went ahead after a poor Stoke defence allowed Boyce to fire the ball at McAnuff in the penalty area, only for Sidibe to get to the ball first which he diverted into the back of his own net.
Stoke again failed to capitalise on any chances they created with Bangoura in particular not really getting any good service all night.
Dave Brammer was really battling in midfield and by half time it certainly looked like Stoke were not going to roll over easily.
Just 1 minute into the second half, Josip Skoko, coming in from the right corner, lobbed the ball of the stranded keeper to equal the score.
For another minute, Stoke fans celebrated, but Delilah had not even finished when Palace regained the lead after a deflection off Clint Hill from McAnuff gave Simonsen no chance.
But Stoke still looked like they could equalise again. First Bangoura and then Brammer had a shot saved by Kiraly and the rebound was strongly hit by Russell straight at the keeper.
In the 58th minute, Stoke were again undone by the speed of Andy Johnson, who outran two Stoke defenders to knock the ball easily past Simonsen.
Stoke really had the stuffing knocked out of them now and never really looked like getting back into the game. Indeed, they nearly went 4-1 down in the final minutes, but an unmarked Hughes managed to hit the ball over the bar from one yard out.
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Date:Tuesday March 14 2006
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