Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Sunday December 21 2008
20th December 2008
Christmas came early for Rovers' fans this year. Santa was there in the shape of new boss Sam Allardyce, but it was the Potters who provided the gifts with three goals, two of which were the result of poor defending and well against the run of play.
With nearly 5,000 Stoke fans making the trip north, including 3,500 taking advantage of the free coach travel provided by the club (Stoke fans now find that it's safer travelling in numbers as the Lancashire police were never going to give Section 27 notices to 70 coach loads) the day never seemed to be going to live up to expectations after Rovers' new boss was appointed earlier in the week. We were then dealt another blow with Thomas Sorensen injuring his finger during the warm-up and had to be replaced before the start by Steve Simonsen.
It only took 9 minutes for the home side to go in front, despite all the early pressure being in the Rovers' half and an early chance from Glenn Whelan which hit the crossbar. With almost their first foray into the Stoke penalty area, Sonko make a poorly timed tackle to bring down Pedersen just inside the area and McCarthy stepped up to send Simmo the wrong way. The Potters continued to press but, just ten minutes later, it was a yet another defensive error, this time from Ryan Shawcross who was playing his first game since returning from injury. Shawcross, inexplicably, gifted the ball to Roberts on the six yard box who just had to tap it home. It was all over bar the shouting on the half hour mark after a good save from Simmo couldn't stop McCarthy getting his second with the rebound.
Despite the fairly hopeless scoreline, Stoke continued to press forward and the travelling supporters continued to sing for their team. Half time arrived and although it looked as thought Michael Tonge would be thrown on at the interval, Tony Pulis waited ten minutes into the restart before bringing on Tonge and Tom Soares in place of Vincent Pericard and Rory Delap as he looked to inject some pace into the eleven.
Stoke still looked more than capable of reducing the deficit, but didn't really put any pressure on the former England keeper, Paul Robinson with shots from Glenn Whelan, Ricardo Fuller and Ab Faye all going close. It wasn't until Seyi Olofinjana's introduction with 15 minutes remaining that saw our best chance on target with the former Wolves' player firing a 30 yard screamer that Robinson just managed to palm away.
But the hosts could have got a late goal but for two great consecutive saves from Simonsen and a third attempt which hit the woodwork.
A desperately poor showing from the Potters, but we were missing some vital players with Sidibe, Griffin, Lawrence, Kitson and Diao all still recovering from injury. But, all in all not the performance we needed, especially with the new World Champions arriving at the Brit on Friday.
Blackburn Rovers: Robinson, Ooijer, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Emerton (Simpson 85), Dunn (Kerimoglu 70), Andrews, Pedersen, McCarthy (Derbyshire 79), Roberts.
Subs not used: Brown, Khizanishvili, Mokoena, Judge
Stoke City: Simonsen, Shawcross, Sonko, Abdoulaye Faye, Higginbotham, Delap (Soares 59), Whelan, Amdy Faye (Olofinjana 75), Cresswell, Pericard (Tonge 59), Fuller.
Subs not used: Sorensen, Pugh, Davies, Wilkinson
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Date:Sunday December 21 2008
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