Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Wednesday January 2 2008
1st Jan 2008
The Christmas away days at Barnsley and Plymouth seemed to catch up with a Potters as yet another draw meant that the Potters ended the Christmas and New Year period with six points out of a maximum of twelve. Whilst not bad, considering the two away trips were against fairly stiff competition, Stoke had to contend without the most potent weapon in their armoury. Ric Fuller missed the game after he learnt that his grandmother had died back in Jamaica and he had to travel back for the funeral.
Fuller's absence left a large hole in attack with Pulis opting for former Tiger, Jon Parkin to fill the slot alongside Mamady Sidibe. With Russell Hoult suspended, Steve Simonsen was given a reprieve in goal and Stephen Wright came back into the starting eleven in place of the injured Andy Wilkinson.
Both sides seemed to be suffering from the effects of the Christmas schedule and the match started slowly, but it was the Tigers who made all the early running. Stoke were never allowed to control the ball and too easily vacated the midfield ground which has been a troublesome area all season. Veteran striker, Dean Windass caused problems for the Stoke defence and the Potters never really troubled the Hull keeper. So it was definitely against the run of play when the Potters went into the lead in the 33rd minute. Not for the first time this season, a trademark throw-in from Rory Delap was not dealt with by the other team and Leon Cort glanced the ball into the back of the net.
This seemed to spark the Potters into life. Jon Parkin was able to fire a fierce shot from close range, but Hull keeper, Boaz Myhill did well to keep the ball out and just a few minutes later and a training ground set-piece corner kick saw Liam Lawrence fire a rocket from the edge of the penalty area. Myhill managed to just tip the ball over when it seemed destined for the top right hand corner.
Half time saw the Potters still in front but the Tigers were still threatening and on the hour mark equalised from a Windass cross which Forlan rose to put in the back of the net.
Stoke huffed and puffed, but never seemed to find the killer blow that was needed. Big Mama did not seem on his usual form and both Sidibe and Parkin were substituted midway through the second half, with Dickinson coming on for Sidibe, which allowed Richard Cresswell to move up front and Vincent Pericard to replace The Beast. Indeed it was Pericard who had the best chances in the closing stages, first being denied a good shout for a penalty and then, with seconds remaining, could not get on the end of the ball as it bobbled in the penalty area.
Stoke still sit nicely in fourth position, but the three draws have allowed the three above them to move five points clear - but there's plenty of time left yet...
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Date:Wednesday January 2 2008
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