Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Wednesday August 9 2006
Stoke City claimed their first victory of the season in a high-tempo match played with conviction by both sides with goals from Vincent Pericard and Daryl Russell.
The Potters began the game with the same team that had disappointingly lost 1-0 to Southend at the weekend with a remarkable return from illness and injury respectively for Luke Chadwick and Peter Sweeney. Both wingers were to prove their worth as the game exploded into action from the very first minute watched by a good crowd of over 20,000 including several thousand travelling Derby supporters.
Straight chances on goal were few and far between, but that's not to say that the game was dull. Both sides played the game as though their very survival in the Championship depended on it and it was not until after the first quarter of the game had elapsed did Stoke threaten, when Mamady Sidibe weakly headed wide after a good cross from Sweeney. Minutes later, Vincent Pericard scored his first goal for the Potters, pushing the ball into the back of the net from a goalmouth scramble. The relief amongst the fans and players was palpable - too many times last season Stoke had had to attempt to rescue a game after going behind.
Stoke continued to restrict Derby's scoring chances with some good defending from a strong back four - Higginbotham, Duberry, Hoefkens and Hill. With luck these four could be the difference in the many games to come, given Tony Pulis's natural inclination to create a strong defence.
Both Chadwick and Sweeney continued to force the pace down the wings. Chadwick, in particular, was showing no sign of his imposed night in hospital and was involved in a tackle with a Derby defender which resulting in a small head wound, but he never gave up and had a shot saved by the Derby keeper shortly before half time.
The second half saw the pressure continue from both sides. Within a couple of minutes, many Stoke fans thought Sweeney had doubled the lead as he fired into the side netting and then Pericard, put through by Chadwick, tried to chip the ball over the advancing keeper but saw his attempt bounce off the inside of the bar to fall just the wrong side of the line.
Within seconds of this disappointment, Sweeney passed the ball to Pericard who again fired at goal, only to see the keeper parry the ball into the path of the rocket-powered Russell who horizontally headed the ball into the back of the net.
Derby were forced into a double substitution with 'super-sub', Paul Peschisolido coming on for Seth Johnson. The one-time Stoke player however had his wings clipped early on after a handball incident with Simonsen earned the striker a yellow card.
Derby never really further troubled Simonsen. Pulis replaced the tiring Chadwick with Paterson and Dickinson came on for Higginbotham who had collided with Sweeney earlier in the half.
Stoke still need the services of the mythical '20 goals a season' striker to feed off Pericard and Sidibe, but it was a good solid performance from the Potters, who desperately needed a win in front of a home crowd to attempt to silence the doom-mongers that have characterised the pre-season talk in the local media and Potters' websites. This performance will not on its own do that, but will hopefully lift the spirits of the players and fans alike on to even better things as the season progresses.
Stoke City: Simonsen, Hoefkens, Higginbotham (Dickinson 68), Duberry (C), Hill, Chadwick (Paterson 64), Brammer, Russell, Sweeney, Sidibe, Pericard (Sigurdsson 84).
Subs not used: Pulis, Duggan.
Derby County: Grant, Edworthy, Moore, Nyatanga, M Johnson, T Smith, Oakley (C) (Idiakez 70), S Johnson (Peschisolido 60), R Smith (Bisgaard 60), Barnes, Howard.
Subs not used: Bolder, Jackson.
Booked: Peschisolido, Idiakez, Howard, Bisgaard.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Date:Wednesday August 9 2006
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