Date: 26th July 2009 at 5:31pm
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Having not been lucky enough to travel to Austria last week, yesterday was my second chance to see the Potters perform in a pre-season friendly.

Witnessing a defeat of our beloved team is never a happy feeling, but having seen a Stoke eleven conjure up a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Newcastle Town two weeks ago and then to follow that up with another 2-1 defeat against the more serious opposition of Preston North End yesterday you do start to get slightly down. That’s without bringing in to the equation another defeat (and draw) in Austria and the 2-0 defeat at Nantwich Town.

Yes, I know it’s only a friendly – ‘a chance for players to get fit and for the manager to try new players and tactics’, but there’s always a feel good factor for fans and players alike that a ‘good’ pre-season may roll into a good start to the season proper.

Still, the match did have reminders of Stoke matches from last season. 2-0 down at the interval and (no doubt) a quiet rollicking from Tone produced a far better display in the second half, but it took the legendary long throw of Rory Delap to conjure up Stoke’s goal when it was glanced in from a crowded six yard box with Richard Cresswell claiming the final touch with just ten minutes to go.

The game really should have been in Stoke’s grasp from early on after Dave Kitson had been brought down in the Lilywhites’ penalty area, but the PNE keeper made a fine save from Liam Lawrence’s resulting penalty kick.

So, were there any positives?

Well, yes. New signing, Dean Whitehead played the majority of the match and looked like he would fit in well. Dave Kitson looked sharp as the Stoke fans were, once again, willing him to score a goal. Matty Etherington tore down the wing on many occasions and linked up well with Kitson and could have had a goal or two of his own.

Any more downsides?

James Beattie wasn’t as lethal in front of goal as normal and we definitely missed the flair of Ricardo Fuller as he is still off enjoying his extended holiday.

Fuller’s absence probably explained the rare appearance of Andy Griffin in the starting eleven with rumours still persisting that Griffin and Fuller have unfinished business after last season’s bust-up at West Ham.