Potters dig in for a point
The Potters came to Elland Road determined to stop the Whites restarting their push for the second automatic promotion place and they achieved that with some fine, dogged defending and not a little help from a Leeds side that seemed unable to conjure up any finishing capabilities.
Stoke took to the field with Martin Paterson and Junior replacing Luke Chadwick and Dave Brammer, who had been laid low with a flu bug (although Brammer was on the bench). Lewis Buxton was preferred to Marlon Broomes with the remainder of the back line as normal: Michael Duberry, Clint Hill and a return from injury for Carl Hoefkens. Sam Bangoura and Mamady Sibide led the attack.
Michael Duberry endured the expected mixed reception from the Elland Road faithful on his first return to the club since he left just over one year ago and a good Stoke following made sure that one-time possible signing and former Crewe player, Rob Hulse was reminded of the club he nearly joined.
Leeds started brightly and Stoke found themselves having to defend and for the first quarter Stoke never had much of a chance to attack the Leeds’ end. Although Steve Simonsen was not put under a lot of pressure as Hill and Duberry performed very well in central defence and denied Hulse or Healy any direct shots at goal. After twenty minutes, Leeds clamoured for two penalties after Hoefkens appeared to trip a Leeds player and a little later, Hulse fell over in the penalty area in a dramatic fashion, but the referee was having none of either.
In fact, the only real save either keeper had to make in a fairly uneventful first half, was a weak shot from Paul Gallagher that was easily saved by the Leeds keeper.
At half-time, Boskamp switched Bangoura, who had not achieved anything in the first half, for Hannes Sigurdsson and Stoke started the better of the two sides and early on looked like he was through on goal with only one defender and the keeper to beat, but was brought down by Gregan who was booked for his untimely tackle. The second half was a far more lively affair, with Stoke getting into the home side’s area on a regular basis and Leeds rasised their game, but found Stoke’s back line still holding firm. Simonsen had to make his first real save of the game when Healy’s strong shot from outside the box was well saved by Simonsen at full stretch.
With the game opening up, Stoke managed to break away on several occasions and Darel Russell had the best chance of the game for the Potters in the closing 15 minutes as a great shot from the edge of the penalty area was curling in to the top right hand corner of the net until it was well palmed away by Sullivan.
A great draw for Stoke, who defended, defended and defended against a Leeds side that could not do anything in the final third. But Stoke, with the exception of Sigurdsson, looked ineffective up front. Bangoura and Sidibe did not have a good game. Paterson, although he played well, was up against better opposition than he usually faces and ended up losing the ball on more occasions than he should have done.
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