Stoke strike late to prevent Tigers
Ricardo Fullers late penalty was enough to earn Stoke a well deserved point after his fellow Jamaican striker Marlon King had given Hull a half time lead at a foggy Britannia Stadium. The Potters wasted plenty of second half chances during a frustrating afternoon where they failed to reach the level of performance the home fans craved.
Tony Pulis`s squad has been hit with injuries during the past week and he was forced into 2 changes. Dave Kitson who injured his knee last weekend was replaced by Ricardo Fuller after he served his one match ban. Also Ryan Shawcross missed out, so Leon Cort earned a returned to the starting 11. Fortunately though both Andy Griffin and Abdoulaye Faye were declared fit too play and took up there places alongside Cort and Danny Higginbotham in the Stoke defence.
The game started at a slow pace with both teams trying to get into their stride, a lot of the early goings suggested that most of the game was to be played in the centre of midfield. Stoke showed glimpses of what they could do as Fuller threatened a less than sure Hull defence with his pace and pulled the ball back for either Sidibe or Delap but neither was able to capitalize.
Hull looked less than sure of themselves at the back as pressure on keeper Boaz Myhill by Tom Soares forced the Welsh goalkeeper to play out for a corner much to the horror of manager Phil Brown. Hull did looked composed going forward though as midfield sensation Geovanni danced past three Stoke defenders before a last ditch tackle prevented him from squaring it across for King.
Stoke almost took the lead as a dangerous Delap throw-in wasn`t dealt with and Sidibe pulled the ball across for Fuller who fired wide from a good position. The Irishman`s throw-ins were causing all kinds of problems as Leon Cort rose highest but his header was held by Myhill.
A controversial moment occurred eight minutes before Half time as Hull substitute Dean Windass was booked for seeming to stand in the way of Delap as he was gearing up for a throw-in.
Hull took the lead against the run of play on the stroke of half time, the ball fell to on loan centre forward Marlon King who ignored chants of handball before firing impressively past Sorensen into the top corner in front of a dis-heartened Boothen End.
Pulis rallied his troops for the half time pep talk trying to inspire them into a second half come back that the crowd knew was on the cards after seeing them waste a couple of decent chances.
The players certainly replied as they came out raring to go and almost got on terms immediately. A Rory Delap throw-in reached Fuller who powered his header down only to see Myhill make a tremendous save to keep his team ahead.
Former Hull defender Leon Cort really should have equalised as a Delap throw-in was arrowed in and a little flick would have been enough but he got too much on the ball and headed way over the bar. Amdy Faye looked to take matters into his own hands as a lung bursting run to the edge of the raised the level of noise in the crowd but Faye dragged his shot well wide but gathered a rapturous applause from the home crowd.
Stoke`s Abdoulaye Faye was proving to be a rock at the back dealing with everything that came his way, the Senegalese who, in many peoples opinion is the best signing Stoke have made this past summer, was carrying a groin injury and wasn`t expected to play, but alongside Leon Cort he rose to the occasion and impressed the whole stadium, something he has done every match this season.
Stoke sent on Michael Tonge replacing the ineffective Tom Soares and he almost immediately got Stoke on level terms. Some more poor defending from Hull let Fuller in one on one with the last defender 12 yards out, he slid in the un-marked Tonge who like Fuller decided against the shot and slid the ball towards the back post beyond the incoming Delap.
Hull almost doubled their lead through former Tottenham midfielder Dean Marney. A well worked Hull move resulted in Marney firing low from the edge of the box in which Sorensen held on impressively.
Stoke did finally get a deserved equaliser near the end through Ricardo Fuller. Danny Higginbotham chipped a long ball up field where Sidibe perfectly flicked on his header for Fuller to chase. He just beat Myhill to the punch and after touching it passed the keeper he was sent tumbling down, all eyes turned to the referee who, without hesitation, pointed to the spot. Fuller grabbed the ball and sent the ball to Myhill`s left, the Welshman guest correctly but was unable to stop the ball as it rolled into the net much to the delight of Pulis and the 27,000 Stokies in attendance.
Stoke set about grabbing a winner and Sidibe fired straight at Myhill from 20 yards and Leon Cort miss-hit Tonge`s free-kick. The match filtered itself out and the result keeps Stoke in 13th tonight on 18 points. Next up is an away trip to Newcastle, a game that could go either way for Stoke who last visited in January and lost heavily 4-1.