Stoke open with easy victory
Stoke opened up their season with a comfortable 2-0 victory over newly promoted Burnley. A header from Ryan Shawcross and an unfortunate own goal from Clarets defender Stephen Jordan gave Stoke a fully deserved victory.
There wasn`t much change from the side that we last saw win at the Britannia stadium last May. New signing Dean Whitehead was the only player unknown to the Potters faithful as he took up his place alongside Rory Delap in the Stoke midfield, with Glenn Whelan rested after his match for the Republic of Ireland in mid week. James Beattie and Ricardo Fuller were the chosen strikers as the pre-season form of Dave Kitson wasn`t enough to earn him a starting berth.
In Burnley`s team was former Stoke academy product Martin Patterson who was aiming to remind his former side what he can offer in the premier league.
The game started in a scrappy fashion and it was Burnley who had the better of it as Robbie Blake struck a firm effort from 25 yards that was well saved by keeper Thomas Sorensen. Although Burnley looked capable of scoring, at the back they looked panicky when Liam Lawrence and Matthew Etherington swung in deliveries aimed at the physically imposing James Beattie.
Stoke took advantage of the Burnley defence and took the lead after 20 minutes. Liam Lawrence won a free-kick off Clarke Carlisle just outside the area on the by-line. Lawrence dusted him-self down and swung in a deep ball towards the far-post where Ryan Shawcross was lurking. The young centre half out jumped the Burnley rearguard and gently nodded the ball back across goal leaving Brian Jensen stranded as the ball nestled in the bottom corner.
The home side realized they were on top and knocked the ball around with a renewed confidence after the opening quarter of the match.
Rory Delap was, as per usual, in the heart of the action with his daunting throw-ins. These caught the Burnley defence out time and time again and it was inevitable that Stoke doubled their lead. A quicker flatter delivery from the Delapidator was unfortunately flicked past his own keeper by Stephen Jordan.
Strangely there was a sense of irony drifting around the Britannia Stadium as almost a year to the day, the mighty Potters themselves were 2-0 down away at Bolton in their first premier league game.
Just as things couldn`t get any worse for Burnley they almost did on the stroke of half-time when a Ricardo Fuller header looped over Brian Jensen and would have found the net but for Clarke Carlisle`s dramatic goal line clearance.
Burnley manager Owen Coyle must have given his players the hairdryer treatment at half-time as his players came out fighting during the second half. Wade Elliot almost scored a tremendous goal from 30 yards as the Clarets piled on the pressure.
Again, scrappy play set in for the rest of the half as neither team kept the ball for a prolong period of time. The introduction of Dave Kitson saw him earn a standing ovation and he almost delivered his first competitive goal since his move last summer.
After evading the off-side trap Kitson with his back to goal turned and crashed a shot that cannoned the top of the cross bar and went over. Despair for the former Reading man who is still on the prowl for that first bit of luck.
Burnley chucked on Fernando Guerrero and Chris Eagles towards the end but neither could penetrate a typically stubborn Potters defence, lead at the heart by man of the match Ryan Shawcross.
Ricardo Fuller still looked to heap misery on Burnley`s debut match as he worked tirelessly throughout the match and almost scored a stunning individual goal. Sub Richard Cresswell almost grabbed his first league goal for the club for the first time in an over a year as his acute shot just went by the post.
As the whistle sounded at full time a less spectacular affair came to an end as Stoke managed to grab all three points without applying their best football. Job done.