Oliver Rescues Point For United
Thursday 1st January 2015; 12:45
Two goals from set pieces split the honours even at the Britannia Stadium on New Years Day, but the game will be remembered for much more than the goals from Ryan Shawcross and Radamel Falcao, but will be remembered for a shocking decision from referee Michael Oliver.
The Potters couldn`t have asked for a better start, with them getting a goal almost instantly from the kick off. A corner came in on the first minute from star player Marko Arnautovic, who has had a rough ride as of late but has been outstanding in recent games. The corner was swung in and flicked on from an un-marked Peter Crouch, towards Ryan Shawcross who couldn`t miss from 2 yards out on the turn to smash Stoke 1-0 up, and to send the home fans into a delirium that can only be achieved when you take the lead against one of the teams you hate most.
Stoke were outclassed in terms of possession to a strong United side, who looked like getting an equaliser ever since they went behind, and their fans knew this. Radamel Falcao gave the fans optimism the reward that they deserved from yet another flick on from a set-piece. The corner came in from the Boothen End and the flick on this time was from Michael Carrick, who flicked it through to the unmarked Falcao who really couldn`t miss.
The second half soon approached, and then the controversy started. Let`s start with the first penalty shout. A free kick was swung in from Marko Arnautovic, and it found the head of Crouch who seemed to win everything in the air. Crouch`s header found the arm of Chris Smalling, who was admittedly only 2 / 3 yards away, but his arm was fully outstretched and he batted the ball away. An obvious penalty, that even United fans feel was clear as day. The only person who didn`t see the handball was Michael Oliver, who even now still hasn`t explained his actions for not giving the penalty. Oliver was in the best place to see the handball, yet inexplicably didn`t give it.
The second penalty shout wasn`t as clear cut. The ball was swung in and found Crouch (AGAIN), who headed onto the post. As the ball came back out to the onrushing Geoff Cameron, he was taken down before he could smash the ball home. Admittedly, this wasn`t a penalty and replays show that Robin Van Persie got to the ball just in time before he took out the American.
Eitherway, both teams held out and the game petered out to a 1-1 draw which both teams should realistically be happy with going into their FA Cup weekend games.
What a defensive masterclass this lad produced. Robin Van Persie was the warmest person in Stoke On Trent as he spent the entire 90 minutes in the skippers back pocket. Shawcross was pivotal to Stoke's point, scoring the Potters goal and also making vital tackles and interceptions. 10/10, and on this performance he can't be far away from England.