More tomorrow; but two penalties against, two sent off, and one up the North Staffs Royal Infirmary for an injection of Potteries TLC is not a good day for anyone.
Mark from Perth says:
What can I say, I drove over 600 miles, over 10 hours driving to attend that game yesterday and it was the best football day I’ve ever had. 4 of us from Perth made the way down with me being the only Stokie. They are now Stokies! My first time down. Class
Match report from armchair correspondent Andrew ‘Noddy Holder Sideboards’ Sith.
Stoke 2 Spuds 1
So it has come to this: so little to do on a Sunday afternoon that I willingly sit down to watch Pulisball. To be fair, I’ve become excited by Stoke a little this season, not in a ‘well they play football the way it should be played’ sense, more for the curiosity value of Pulis’ Plan A: bang the ball off their full back to win a throw and get Delap to launch it large to the back stick. Myself and the general public have accepted the need to watch Stoke in the same way that visitors to early 20th century circuses accepted the need to go check out the bearded lady.
So: kick off and a rapid realisation that however exciting the anticipation of seeing Delap’s monster throws may be, the football that will ebb and flow either side of them is pretty dire. From both sides. Stoke at least have the excuse of being managed by Tony Pulis (Reader, I should let you know I’ve been anti-Pulis for far longer than your blog host. He cut his managerial teeth at AFC Bournemouth in the early 90s.) Tottenham on the other hand have a decent manager & decent players but are currently unable to actually play the game – stories of the manager having lost the dressing room abound, of players not getting on etc blah blah.
Ten minutes in I am forced to text a Stoke supporting friend ‘I’m not sure I can last 90 mins of this’ – he replies that it’s not fair I have Sky sports and he doesn’t on a day like today. This is a friend that often lets me know how England are getting on in their Setanta-only away games. I get Pulis, he gets Capello. Yes indeed, very not fair.
All of a sudden, Sorensen launches a long ball into the Spurs half, Sidibe gets a knock down to Soares and an ‘actually, it was just outside the box if you look carefully’ lunge from Spurs’ left back brings excitement and action to the Brit: can Higginbotham get that ball to stay still? Will someone have to lay down and hold it steady? I’ve been to the Brit in Autumn; it gets windy, which highlights the design flaw in building the main stand so far away from the pitch. The wind dies, the ball flies into the corner of the net and Stoke are 1-0 up. Delilah roars from the stands and all is well in Stoke-on-Trent. Five minutes later, Stoke’s defensive frailties are shown up and Bent gets an equaliser.
At this point I’m reminded that I’ve promised to empty the garage of it’s cardboard boxes and take the car for a Hoover. Out I go, thinking I probably wouldn’t miss much but would be back for the second half. Pulis’ post-match comments that Stoke were ‘garbage’ after the equaliser backs this up.
So, home for the 2nd half and after a few minutes there’s some proper quality from Stoke and Delap taps home from a couple of yards. There follows 20 mins or so of honest hard work from Stoke and lackadaisicalness from Spurs. The denouement of the game is a joy to watch though. Sonko knees Sorenson in the head and a Spurs player gets booked. Then, up at the other end the Spurs keeper flattens his own central defender, who’s down for a minute or two, gets the magic sponge and continues. He continues to get battered by his own keeper and next time he’s out for the count and gets to experience first hand the joys of North Staffs NHS Trust.
Stoke attack again and get another penalty. Fuller contrives to hit both posts and Delap hits the bar. Spurs’ substitute Dawson tries his best to break Sidebe’s leg and gets sent off: from his incredulous reaction you’d think he’d been harshly treated. This Respect the Ref campaign is working very well.
Fuller manages to hit the crossbar again and then the final whistle goes. You have to say it was a well deserved win for Stoke. You can not like Pulis or his loathsome methods, but they do work – and, surprisingly, there were times in the match where Stoke did play some pretty good football. Maybe Pulis is developing a Plan B – Delap’s throws were secondary to the football today. This is not what we armchair viewers want though. It’s like paying to see the bearded lady and finding that she’s negotiated a sponsorship deal with Gillette.