Stoke forced to share the points
9th February 2010
The 3,500 Stoke fans who travelled to the sparsely populated DW Stadium made up more than 20% of the entire attendance and provided 80% of the noise. They were treated to the Potters' first away goal in more than ten hours of football as we came back from a goal down with Tuncay scoring his third goal of the season.
As predicted, Tony Pulis replaced Ricardo Fuller with Tuncay and also brought in Glenn Whelan for his fellow Irishman, Liam Lawrence. Abdoulaye Faye was still suffering with his back problem, allowing Andy Wilkinson to continue in defence.
Wigan were desperate for the three points as they continue to struggle in the League with no wins in their last ten matches. Stoke, by contrast, were looking to continue their good start to 2010 which culminated in their best ever Premier League win with the 3-0 win over Blackburn on Saturday.
The Potters started slowly and didn't really start playing until they found themselves a goal behind after Matthew Etherington had given away a needless foul outside the penalty area. The Latics' free-kick was straight out of Stoke's own training manual, finding Paul Scharner's head and he headed firmly past Sorensen.
But the Potters gradually fought their way back into the game but opportunities were missed with Ryan Shawcross failing to get a clean shot in a crowded six yard box and Tuncay miscuing a free kick from Robert Huth.
It was the introduction of Ricardo Fuller, replacing Rory Delap, on the hour mark that provided more productive scoring opportunities. The home side were getting very few chances in front of goal as the Potters pushed forward but they very nearly doubled their advantage when Rodallega's bicycle kick just skimmed the top of the crossbar. But Stoke fully justified their 76th minute goal to bring the scores level. Fuller made a run down the right wing, crossing back to Matty Etherington who found Tuncay on the edge of the six yard box and he headed past Kirkland.
Far from having to hold back the home side in the closing stages, it was Stoke that had two gift-wrapped opportunities to take home all three points. Just minutes later Fuller's cross found Mamady Sidibe, but his header was slightly too high and he headed against the crossbar.
Tony Pulis rang the changes, bringing on James Beattie and Liam Lawrence with a couple of minutes to go and Beattie had a golden chance to win the game with Etherington finding Beatts with acres of space in the penalty area. But his well struck volley was saved by Kirkland at full stretch.
So, still only one win on the road but this was a far more confident away performance than we've been used to and hopefully shows that we're surely close to some real return for all our efforts away from the Brit.