Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Sunday October 17 2010
Saturday 16th October
This was a good performance by the Potters and we deserved more from our annual trip to the Reebok. 4,500 Stokies made the trip up north, but yet again we had to cope with another blind referee, more injury woes for Ricardo and a very late sucker-punch which deprived us of any points.
Tony Pulis had the good fortune of naming the same starting eleven that battered Blackburn two weeks ago but this was always going to be a different proposition with Bolton unbeaten at home, despite not having picked up a win at the Reebok.
Those of us who were there at that opening Premier League match two years ago will have noticed just how far we've come in that time. That August day, we played like rabbits caught in the headlights, marvelling at just being at the top table of English football. On this bright October afternoon, we played with poise, confidence and (dare I say it) not just a little skill, which made for an entertaining game for both sets of fans and even the neutrals.
This time it was a travesty that we came away with nothing, but a reminder that any mistake can be quickly punished. Bolton went ahead in the 22nd minute, despite the Potters making more chances in the early first half. Adby Faye's miss-timed his tackle and allowed Chung Yong Lee to fire a decent shot into the top corner past Sorensen.
Stoke's best chance yet came on the half hour mark. A free kick was taken by Jermaine Pennant outside the penalty area and it curled down beautifully with the keeper beaten but just caught the underside of the crossbar.
But the biggest injustice was yet to come. With Kenwyne Jones challenging for the ball in the home side's area, Zak Knight's raised arm clearly deflected the ball towards the keeper. The foul was plainly visible to the Stokies at the far end of the ground, but Mr Walton was adamant no foul had been committed, despite his perfect view. I do hope he enjoyed the comments on Match of the Day last night.....
Still, a goal down at half-time doesn't surprise a Stoke fan these days and within three minutes of the restart we were deservedly level. The fact that it came from the boot of Rory Delap did surprise me - he's normally one player that we're quite happy to fling the ball at the goal, but quite another if he dares to try and kick it goal bound. Matty Etherington's corner was flicked on by Robert Huth to where Rory had made himself acres of space to fire the ball home from six yards.
Both sides had further chances to edge ahead, Dean Whitehead nearly found a way past the Bolton keeper, but just couldn't chip it past Jaaskelainen and Thomas Sorensen made a fine save from Petrov. Fuller was brought on for Pennant as Tone tried to add some more bite to the upfront mix. But disaster struck just a few minutes later when Ric went down on the edge of the penalty area after an innocuous challenge. He was forced to depart after what seemed like a recurrence of his shoulder injury and that may sideline him for several weeks.
Eidur Gudjohnsen came on for Fuller but, other than a few deft touches, didn't make much of an impact. So it seemed to be heading for a fair point apiece when, deep into added on time, Steinsson launched a long throw nearly worthy of Rory, but unfortunately creating the same chaos in which Faye failed to clear and Klasnic fired home. With seconds remaining there was still time for our friend Mr Walton to book Klasnic twice (he'd only come on as a sub fifteen minutes earlier) and show him a red card - it's just a shame he hadn't done that earlier.
Date:Sunday October 17 2010
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