Stoke miss out this time
6th May 2007
As it turned out the Potters would have needed to beat QPR at least 5-1 to have made it into the Championship play-offs for the first time and had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Loftus Road. A sixth minute opening goal from QPR's Rowlands always had Stoke chasing the game, but they never lost their fight and first half chances from Dominic Matteo, Ricardo Fuller, Andy Griffin and substitute Lee Martin (brought on for an injured Lee Hendrie) never managed to find the back of the net.
The second half saw Tony Pulis throw the kitchen sink at the Rangers' defence, bringing on Vincent Pericard for defender, Gabriel Zachuani. This nearly paid dividends but the Potters' were denied a goal from Danny Higginbotham after the linesman adjudged the Stoke captain to be offside.
Stoke were then handed a potential life-line on 70 minutes when the referee showed Timposka his second yellow card of the afternoon after bringing down Lee Martin just outside the penalty area. With results elsewhere at that time hanging on a knife-edge, the Potters' poured everyone forward, including at times keeper, Steve Simonsen and their persistence was rewarded five minutes from the end of normal time, when Mamady Sidibe equalised after Fuller's low cross found the tall Mali international. But that was all there was going to be.
So there it was, with no results elsewhere helping the Potters' cause, Stoke will need to wait until next season to continue their push for the Premiership.
But any chance of promotion was not lost on Sunday at Loftus Road, it was lost with games such as the 1-0 defeat to Barnsley at the Brit, losing 2-3 at Preston after being 2-0 up and draws against Hull, Southend, Luton, Sunderland and Cardiff. These were all games that we should (and could) have won. What if? Would the mighty Potters even had to worry about the play-offs then?
All in all, a good season for the Potters with some stability for a change off the field - let's hope we can use the next three months to build a new squad to provide some stability on the field as well.
QPR: Cole, Timoska, Shimmin, Stewart, Bignot, Rowlands, Bolder (Bircham 83), Bailey, Smith, Nygaard (Ray Jones 88), Blackstock (Furlong 76).
Subs not used: Paul Jones, Moore.
Sent Off: Timoska (69)
Booked: Rowlands, Bailey, Shimmin, Timoska, Bolder, Cole, Smith, Furlong.
Goals: Rowlands 6
Stoke City: Simonsen, Zakuani (Pericard 59), Fortune, Higginbotham, Griffin, Hoefkens, Diao (Russell 72), Matteo, Hendrie (Martin 20), Sidibe, Fuller
Subs not used: Hoult, Eustace
Booked: Fortune, Diao
Goals: Sidibe 84