Potters Pinch Point Against 10-man Tigers
Stoke City fought back to grab what can only be described as a very undeserved point at Hull`s KC Stadium. After a very dominant start from Hull, they really should have seen the game out, even with a man down.
The game started very sluggishly for Stoke, as they struggled to make any sort of impact on the game at all. The problems that they faced against Aston Villa last weekend seem to have worsened over the week, as they failed to even get a touch on the ball for the most part of the first 15 minutes. On the 15th minute however, things were about to go in Stoke`s favour. Hull`s James Chester was sold short by a misplaced back pass that allowed Glenn Whelan to nip the ball past him, with the Tigers defender bringing Whelan down whilst he was 1-on-1 with goalkeeper Alan McGregor. Referee Jonathan Moss had no choice at all other than to dish out a red card to the youngster, leaving Hull with 10 men for the last 75 minutes of the match.
At this point, Stoke seemed to get back into the game, and started pressing Hull into their own half. Hull`s formation allowed Stoke to pull their 2 wing backs forward to look towards taking the lead. All that Stoke were lacking was that final 'killer ball`. Stoke could not break through, and we saw them try to play the ball through Hull, to no avail. Manager Mark Hughes picked up on this, and brought on wonder kid Bojan Krkic in place of Irishman Glenn Whelan on the 41st minute. Unfortunately, the change in personnel seemed to backfire on Hughes, as Hull took the lead less than 60 seconds after the change. A seemingly hopeful effort from Tom Huddlestone on the edge of the Stoke box ran through at least 6 Stoke players before Asmir Begovic tipped the ball in to the path of the awaiting Nikica Jelavic who slid home from a very tight angle. With no power in Huddlestones effort, it was a calamity between both all of the Stoke defence and goalkeeper, something that could have been easily avoided, and something that I`m sure Mark Hughes will look to rectify over the next week.
As the second half arrived, Stoke again started sluggishly and they weren`t taking advantage of the extra man that they had. Arnautovic just like last week against Aston Villa didn`t seem interested in the game. The young Austrians crosses were wayward and his touches abysmal. Stoke fans seemed to have a sense of relief when he picked up a knock on the 54th minute and had to be substituted for Peter Crouch. As soon as Crouch came on, Stoke seemed to look a bit more lively. Within 10 minutes of the change, Stoke hit Hull on the break and attacked them 3-on-3. Bojan played a superb through ball to Crouch who`s deflected effort fell to Diouf, who couldn`t get enough power or accuracy on the header that he had. Stoke were playing with positivity though, something that we haven`t seen since the end of last season. Minutes after this effort, Charlie Adam came on for Steve Sidwell, and the Scot made an instant impact against fellow countryman Alan McGregor, as he unleashed a fierce effort from 25 yards out, curling into the top corner which had the Hull keeper scrambling to tip it over. Another good effort from Stoke as they started to knock on the Hull door.
Stoke finally got their equaliser on the 83rd minute of the game, and it was shrouded with controversy. Defender Erik Pieters went to cross the ball into the danger zone, but the effort was blocked by a Hull defender. The ball ricochet`d off the defender and hit the Stoke man on the way out. Somehow, 24,000 people saw that the ball came off Pieters, apart from the referee and linesman, and somehow the throw was awarded to Stoke. Pieters threw the ball in to Bojan, who crossed the ball towards Bardsley at the back post. Bardsley`s effort was scuffed and rebounded off the post, leaving Shawcross to prod the ball home, via the post and the unfortunate McGregor`s back. Play did continue until goal line technology came into play successfully, and the goal was awarded to Stoke. A goal that was totally undeserved on the balance of play, but something that Mark Hughes will have to accept based on his sides lacklustre performance for the second week in a row.