Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Sunday September 17 2006
The Potters were holed below the waterline with less than 35 seconds on the clock and never really looked like recovering in this scrappy game at the Britannia.
Sam Bangoura made a surprise appearance for his first senior match of the season as Vincent Pericard and Ricardo Fuller both struggled for fitness. Fans were left wondering why Tony Pulis had chosen to start with the Guinean international ahead of Martin Paterson, who had scored his first senior goal in midweek. Bangoura obviously lacked match fitness and would have been better coming on from the bench later in the game. This proved to be the case as he limped just before the end of the first half to be replaced by Paterson.
Burnley started with three ex Potters, Wayne Thomas, Gifton Noel Williams and James O'Connor lead by one-time manager, Steve Cotterill. Their goal came from the Claret`s first attack which the Potters' defence clumsily tried to clear for the ball to fall to the feet of Andy Gray who shot home from twelve yards.
The Stoke players were severely rattled by this early setback, but neither side created any meaningful chances in a very dour first half with the Potters resorting to hoofing the ball up the field at nearly every opportunity.
The second half started brighter for the Potters. Just after the kick-off, Peter Sweeney made a run down the left and fired a blistering volley at the Burnley keeper that he only just managed to tip over the bar for the first corner of the game. Paterson also started injecting some life into Stoke's attack with several moves infield catching the Burnley defence out.
Chances from both sides were few and far between, but it was Burnley who threatened to increase their lead, whilst the odd chance from Stoke went well wide.
At the hour mark, Carl Hoefkens came on for Sweeney to rapturous applause from the Boothen End and ten minutes later, Luke Chadwick, again looking very tired, was replaced by Adam Rooney.
It was not until added on time beckoned that Stoke started to carve out a real chance or two with Mamade Sidibe's volley being tipped over the bar and Stoke able to pressurise the Burnley penalty area with the ensuing corner kick. The final chance came with Hoefkens' attempt to bundle the ball into the back of the net with seconds remaining.
All in all, not a game that any Stoke fan will remember fondly. Stoke lacked any real determination and seemed to lose any confidence after that early goal. Russell and Brammer failed to control the midfield. Although, in the absence of any other challengers Russell gained the sponsors' 'man of the match' award for running around more than anyone else.
Stoke: Simonsen, Higginbotham, Griffin, Hill, Duberry, Sweeney (Hoefkens 63), Brammer, Russell, Chadwick (Rooney 74), Bangoura (Paterson 43), Sidibe.
Subs not used: Duggan, Pulis.
Burnley: Jensen, Harley, McGreal, Thomas, Duff, Jones (Lafferty 90), Hyde, James O'Connor, Elliott (Sinclair 90), Gray, Noel-Williams (McCann 87).
Subs not used: Spicer, Foster.
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Date:Sunday September 17 2006
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