Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Sunday September 16 2007
It's often the case that a team comes away from a match with an undeserved three points and this should have been the Potters' chance yesterday.
Stoke visited the KC Stadium with the home fans packed in to witness the debut of ageing midfielder, Jay Jay Okocha. With the former Nigerian international not able to perform 'heroic' feats for the full 90 minutes he was left to rest on the bench for most of the game but Stoke failed to take full advantage allowing the home side to command the midfield with wave after wave of attacks descending on Steve Simonsen at the Stoke fans' end. It was only stalwart defending from Simmo, Hill, Shawcross, Zakuani and Craddock and poor finishing from Hull that prevented the Potters from going behind early on. That's not to say that the Tigers had it all their own way and the home crowd were getting increasingly restless as Stoke saw good chances go just wide from Ricardo Fuller and Richard Cresswell. With half time looming, the Potters managed to edge into the lead. A goalmouth scramble involving Mamade Sidibe and Liam Lawrence saw the loose ball fired into the net by Rory Delap from five yards out. Delap's first goal for the club after an injury-hit first season was instantly celebrated with the physio, Dave Watson.
You'd have expected the Tigers to up the tempo in the second half and they did not disappoint and Okocha was soon given his debut. He may be 34, but the old skills were soon in evidence as Stoke rued the chances they had not taken earlier on to put the game beyond doubt. Pulis decided the throw on the Beast on 76 minutes, replacing Fuller who had been the only constant thorn in the home side. Jon Parkin's appearance was met with the expected boos from Hull fans, along with Stoke chants of 'Feed the Beast and he will score' and although Parkin had a couple of good chances the final shots were too weak and easily saved by keeper, Myhill. But with the visitors just starting to believe that they would collect all three points and having soaked up substantial Hull pressure throughout the second half, the defence succumbed with just three minutes to go. New signing, Caleb Folan's header when straight to sub, David Livermore and he had no problem putting the ball in the back of the net. It was then just a case of the Potters' clinging on to a point as Okocha and crew went chasing the winner, but hang on they did and it was a relief to hear the final whistle blow.
A win would have been great, a draw probably a fair result for a game that neither side really deserved to win.
Hull City: Myhill, Ricketts, Turner, Brown, Delaney, Garcia (Livermore 75), Ashbee, Marney (Okocha 54), Hughes (Bridges 69), Windass, Folan.
Subs not used: Aspden, Dawson
Stoke City: Simonsen, Zakuani, Hill, Shawcross, Craddock, Lawrence (Eustace 85), Matteo, Delap, Cresswell, Fuller (Parkin 79), Sidibe
Subs not used: Hoult, Wright, Wilkinson
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Date:Sunday September 16 2007
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