Stoke kick off with a win
Lyme Valley Stadium
Sunday 15th July
Stoke City kicked off their pre-season fixtures at a distinctly damp Lyme Valley Stadium against the traditional opening opponents, North West Counties team, Newcastle Town.
The Potters fielded a total of 19 existing squad players for the tie and two trialists, Dominic Matteo (who is still looking for another contract after joining the Potters last year only on a short term contract) and Kangana Lord Ndiwa (who, as far as Vital Stoke can find out, played once for Montrose last year as an amateur and non-league club, Worthing before that).
Tony Pulis decided to play two different teams in each half and only Lewis Buxton played the entire 90 minutes as he fights back to full fitness after a long injury layoff last season.
Ricardo Fuller harried the defence throughout the first half and scored two goals for the Potters. Rory Delap and Peter Sweeney battled in midfield, but the game often swung Town's way and they equalised to put the score at 1-1 on 17 minutes with a goal from Liam McMann. Indeed, the teams could easily have gone in at half time 2-2, but for some lucky escapes for the Potters.
The second half saw Pulis replace his entire team (except for Buxton) and this eleven seemed to be at a different game from the team who ended the first half. New signing, Jon Parkin was partnering Vincent Pericard up front and Liam Lawrence had several good runs down the left wing with Robert Garrett doing similarly well down the right wing. Both Parkin and Pericard had chances before Pericard scored on 50 minutes, followed by Lawrence on 66 minutes. Garrett thoroughly deserved his goal late on in the game to wrap up the match. The second 45 minutes saw a Stoke team with more fire and more cohesion, which was probably due to the commanding presence of skipper, Danny Higginbotham and it was not until the final minutes that reserve keeper, Russell Hoult had to do anything of note.
First Half Potters: Simonsen, Ndiwa, Hoefkens, Buxton, Matteo, Delap, Russell, Sweeney, Hazley, Fuller, Sidibe.
Second Half Potters: Hoult, Higginbotham, Wilkinson, Dickinson, Buxton, Eustace, Lawrence, Garrett, Pulis, Parkin, Pericard.
Goals: Fuller 7,34; Pericard 50, Lawrence 66, Garrett 80.
Notable absentees were Marlon Broomes, Clint Hill and Adam Rooney. Rooney was spotted watching the match from the stand and we would presume that Broomes and Hill are still injured.