Stoke lack attack - again
Another exasperating day at the Brit for fans and players alike in a match that was not memorable for the scoreline but certainly was eventful with two players sent off during a fraught 10 minutes in the first half.
Ricardo Fuller saw red for the second time this season and for a near identical offence when he appeared to elbow Luton's Sol Davis in the face on the half hour. Then less than 10 minutes later Davis himself saw red after a dangerous and needless sliding challenge on Mamady Sidibe completely wiped out the tall striker. Luckily for both player and club, Sidibe was soon back on his feet. But these two incidents, whilst hardly high points, masked a dreary 0-0 draw and gave the relegation threatened Hatters a vital point to climb two places away from danger. The Potters, on the other hand, are seeing the play-offs disappear into the distance and stay in tenth place.
Stoke controlled the game for long periods, but always lacked the final touch which has been eluding them now for several weeks. After Fullers' red card, Sidibe was the lone figure up front until he himself suffered a second injury in the second half after colliding heavily with the Luton goalpost in a tangle with a Hatters' defender. Liam Lawrence had a shot on target that was hacked off the line by Luton and Darel Russell's attempt only just sailed over the goal. The referee, Trevor Kettle, incurred the wrath of both sets of supporters with a totally inconsistent approach to offences, not least because he turned done two gilt-edged penalty claims for the Potters. The only two things he did seem to get right were the two red cards.
It should be just these sort of matches that the Potters should be winning, but the team appears to contrive to make life difficult for themselves at the moment. Tony Pulis has gone on record several times in the last couple of weeks that we need another striker, but now faces a critical problem up front if Sidibe's injury causes him to miss the game against Derby County on Wednesday with Adam Rooney as the only recognised available striker. Stoke may just have Ricardo Fuller available if his near-certain suspension does not kick-in until the match with Barnsley in just over a week.
Stoke City: Simonsen, Hoefkens, Higginbotham, Fortune, Griffin (Dickinson 88), Lawrence, Russell (Martin 77), Diao, Hendrie, Fuller, Sidibe (Rooney 58).
Subs not used: Hoult, Eustace.
Sent Off: Fuller (29)
Booked: Lawrence, Hendrie, Higginbotham, Diao.
Luton Town: Beresford, Foley, Heikkinen, Perrett (Keane 46), Davis, Bell (Langley 80), Robinson, Spring, Morgan, Boyd (Emanuel 45), Runstrom.
Subs not used: Brill, O'Leary.
Sent Off: Davis (37)
Booked: Heikkinen, Morgan.