Vital point for Stoke in bore draw
Stadium of Light
1st February 2010
This was never going to be a scintillating match and so it proved. Sunderland, without a win since November, against the Potters with only four away goals to our name. It had 'bore draw' nailed on it.
But, in the true spirit of Potters fans, who cares? Certainly Tony Pulis didn't after the match when he praised the Stoke defenders who easily coped with all that the Black Cats' £30m pair of strikers could hurl at them - which wasn't much. He even pursued that classic Pulis line by comparing the cost of Bent and Jones to that of the entire Stoke starting eleven.
This was not a good day, especially when compared to the rip-roaring performance just eight days earlier when we saw off Arsenal at the Brit in the FA Cup, but it was a very hard earned, well fought point against opposition that has started to look towards the bottom of the table with panic setting in.
The Potters did have the best of the meagre chances on offer. Dean Whitehead had a golden opportunity to put the visitors in front after just three minutes but struck the ball tamely to the keeper when you just felt that if that had been a shot from the likes of Fuller, Tuncay or (dare I say) Beattie then the ball would have ended up in the back of the net and we'd have been talking about a completely different match. In the second half Robert Huth came close with a header that went wide and sub, Ricardo Fuller saw a shot saved from an acute angle with fifteen minutes remaining.
Sunderland's chances were limited to a couple of games of ping-pong in the penalty area from set-pieces. They had a claim for a penalty turned down after Huth's hand appeared to make contact with the ball but top referee, Howard Webb, (I've always liked the man!) took no notice.
Although he did notice a couple of incidents involving handbags. The first was a petulant kick from Whitehead that could have easily got him sent off, but Webb decided that a yellow was enough and the 'victim', Cattermol, decided to seek revenge later and just earned himself a yellow card for his pains. The other involved Fuller and Mensah in an innocuous tackle but the subsequent tangle was enough to get themselves both booked.
On the minus side, Abdy Faye's return from injury only lasted 17 minutes when he had to be replaced by Andy Wilkinson after suffering a painful muscle spasm.
So, not one you'll want to watch again, but it's another vital point on the board and the Potters can now prepare for the visit of Blackburn Rovers on Saturday as their unbeaten run now stretches to five games in League and Cup.
Gordon, McCartney, Turner, Mensah, Kilgallon, Malbranque (Campbell 69), Cana, Reid (Zenden 69), Cattermol (Henderson 89), Bent, Jones
Sorensen, Higginbotham, Huth, Shawcross, Faye (Wilkinson 17), Whelan, Diao (Delap 74), Whitehead, Tuncay (Fuller 62), Etherington, Sidibe