Stoke: it's back to League survival
3rd January 2009
If last week's defeat at West Ham and the fall-out between Andy Griffin and Ricardo Fuller wasn't a wake-up call, then today's FA Cup third round defeat at League 1 midtablers, Hartlepool United certainly must be.
Defeats can easily become habit forming and today's lacklustre performance is definitely worrying. It's easy to say that we only had our fifth choice striker, Vincent Pericard, as the only one available up front at the start but that situation was of our own making with both Ric Fuller and Richard Cresswell suspended. There was some light at the end of the tunnel with Liam Lawrence, Salif Diao and Dave Kitson all on the bench as they return from injury but Kitson's return just hastens to remind us that our most expensive signing has yet to score since joining in the summer.
Kitson and Lawrence were to see some action as they were thrown into the fray just as the Potters went behind in the 50th minute with a tap in from Nelson as the Stoke back four decided to nod off after the home side were awarded a distinctly dubious free kick on the edge of the penalty area. For the record, the second came with twenty minutes remaining with a very creditable 30 yard rocket from Foley that left Simonsen stranded. That's not to say that we didn't have some chances - the best being after only a couple of minutes when Sonko's header hit the bar.
If you really do want all the gory details, I suggest you venture to the match report on the official site as it still seems too painful to recount in full here.
But it's safe to say that I wholeheartedly support Tony Pulis' post match comments: 'It's not important we get some players in, it's vital!'
Get to it, Tone and quickly.....
Hartlepool United: Lee-Barrett, Sweeney (McCunnie 17), Nelson, Collins, Humphreys, Jones (Monkhouse 90), Liddle, Clark, Robson, Mackay (Foley 33), Porter
Subs not used: Budtz, Power, Rowell, Tait
Stoke City: Simonsen, Davies (Wilkinson 71), Shawcross, Sonko, Dickinson, Soares (Lawrence 54), Olofinjana (Kitson 54), Whelan, Tonge, Delap, Pericard
Subs not used: Sorensen, Higginbotham, Diao, Abdoulaye Faye