Stoke easily keep 'Pool at bay
Saturday 30th April 2011
Stoke notched up their first goalless draw of the campaign against a side who hadn't managed to avoid conceding or scoring at home this season.
Tony Pulis made one enforced change from the starting eleven that saw off Wolves so comfortably in midweek with Dean Whitehead coming in for the injured Matty Etherington with Rory Delap switching positions onto the wing. Ryan Shotton came on to the bench to replace Whitehead.
Even though Stoke are now virtually safe from relegation it was never going to be an easy game with the Seasiders balanced precariously on the relegation precipice and so it was of little surprise that it was the home side that came out of the blocks the fastest with DJ Campbell heading over early on.
After that the Potters consolidated and managed to nullify any threat from Blackpool with Charlie Adam particularly quiet. After the striker's rise to prominence during the first four months of the season and subsequent talk of a big pay day with a move to their near neighbours, Liverpool, Adam seems to have dropped off the pace to mirror 'Pool's own demise. Coming up against the mighty Huth yesterday certainly left a mark on Adam when he came a cropper and he too learnt that the German doesn't take any prisoners.
The chance of the half and, as it turned out the game, came with just seconds to go before the interval when Kenwyne Jones gained possession, went around the keeper but, with a defender also flat on his face in the penalty area, somehow managed to put the ball well wide with just the goalmouth to find. In his defence, the Bloomfield Road pitch is hardly the smoothest in the League and Gilks just seemed to get a finger tip to it to make the ball bobble enough for Jones to mistime his shot.
The second half was fairly insipid with the Potters soaking up any threat from Blackpool with relative ease. A long range strike from Glenn Whelan one of the few goal-bound attempts but, in truth, Stoke did just what they needed to do - which wasn't very much - as Blackpool failed to create any real pressure on Asmir Begovic's goal.
On the injury front there was some more bad news after Andy Wilkinson limped off after 56 minutes with a knee injury but it's not clear if his departure was just a precaution or something worse. This allowed Ryan Shotton to make his long awaited and deserved Premier League debut and the Fenton born lad did not disappoint in which was hopefully the first of many appearances.
So, all in all, a decent performance from a team that has picked up too many injuries in recent matches and was keen to save themselves for that FA Cup final now that league survival has been assured and, let's not forget, that this was a very creditable fifth point in three games over the past seven days.