Ireland inspired Stoke come from behind at Spurs
White Hart Lane
15th August 2015 3pm
The Potters earned their first point of the new campaign with a superb second half comeback against Spurs at White Hart Lane, inspired by the unlikely figure of Stephen Ireland.
Mark Hughes made one change from the side that were defeated 1-0 by Liverpool last weekend as he brought back Marko Arnautovic to replace Charlie Adam, but it was the home side who started the match brightly.
Jack Butland was twice called into action in the opening 10 minutes by Christian Eriksen, firstly saving well low down at his near post, then minutes later he got down again to parry an Eriksen free-kick away from the onrushing Spurs attackers.
Stoke`s first chance fell to Diouf, and it wouldn`t be his last, a poor clearance from Lloris fell to the Senegal man, but Lloris did redeem himself by saving the shot comfortably.
It seemed as if a Spurs goal wasn`t too far away and it came from a set piece. Eriksen curled the ball in and Erik Dier climbed between two Stoke defenders to power the ball passed Butland to give the home side the lead.
The first half meandered along in an uneventful fashion until it sparked back into life just before half-time. Firstly Diouf headed straight into the arms of Lloris from 6 yards when it looked easier to score.
Spurs then went straight up the other end and a wonderful chipped pass from Kane was controlled and poked at goal by Mason but Butand did brilliantly to stretch a toe to clear to safety.
The second for Spurs did arrive before half time when Ben Davies broke free down the left, his cross fell into the path of Nacer Chadli and his volley took a slight deflection off Erik Pieters which left Butland stranded as the ball went into the corner of his net. Spurs would go into the break 2-0 up.
The second half started much in the same fashion as Butland was again forced into a wonderful save to deny Kane from close range and keep the Potters in with a chance, just before John Walters flashed a header wide from the penalty spot.
This would be the last time we`d see the Irish international as Hughes subbed him and Van Ginkel to bring on Stephen Ireland and give a debut to Joselu.
This seemed to re-vitalise the fans in the away end, who wern`t letting the scoreline dampen their spirits and the players soon responded.
Ireland curled in a ball from the left and Diouf again came in but couldn`t direct his header away from Lloris. But this was a sign that Stoke were beginning to grow into the game.
Ireland was finding pockets of space and he slid a ball into Joselu who turned Alderweireld and was hauled down in the box. Arnautovic stepped up and smashed the ball into the corner with 13 minutes to go.
Spurs had completely gone back into their shells and this played into the visitors` hands. Ireland exchanged passes with Arnautovic before curling in a delightful ball and Mame Diouf got the faintest of touches to nod into the corner of the net and get his rewards for his commitment.
The Potters fans in the corner of White Hart Lane were making all the noise as they were delighted with the way their team had fought back to draw level. But they weren`t quite finished, Arnautovic broke free down the left before dinking a lovely ball in but Stephen Ireland wasn`t quite tall enough and his header just went over the crossbar with the final chance of the game.
It was a wonderful comeback from a Stoke team missing several key players proving that the spirit of the team remains as strong as ever.
The display also emphasized the depth of a squad missing Shaqiri and Bojan and following the huge impact made by Ireland left Mark Hughes with some lovely selection headaches moving forward into next week`s game at Norwich.