Stoke City gained a vital win against a Burnley side that, like Stoke, has had a disastrous time since Christmas. Both sides have plummeted in the league with Stoke going from 6th to 15th and Burnley suffering a drop from 5th to 17th over the same period.
This was a day where nerves were going to be tested and the winner likely to avoid any end of season relegation worries. There was the added excitement of a visiting Burnley team containing four former Potters? players: Michael Ricketts, Wayne Thomas, James O?Connor and Gifton Noel Williams with of course the Boothen End?s favourite hate figure ? Burnley manager, Steve Cotterill.
Both sides played a cautious first half with neither keeper being put under any pressure. Both teams looked like their form suggested. With Chadwick sitting on the bench, Stoke seemed devoid of any way past the Burnley defence and resorted to booting the ball down to hopefully pick up Bangoura. For Burnley, debutant Andy Gray tried to make an impact, but was denied by a resolute Clint Hill at every turn.
After half time, Marlon Broomes was substituted for Lewis Buxton. Broomes had never really contributed to the game and Buxton?s introduction tightened up the Stoke defence.
It was really was a sc**ppy encounter, with the referee not allowing the game, such as it was, to flow with a number of free kicks holding up play. But seven minutes into the second half Stoke finally got a chance. Dave Brammer?s cross found Paul Gallagher just on the left hand side of the penalty area. He had plenty of time to fire the ball past Jensen and into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
After that Stoke seemed to settle slightly and found some confidence, but Darel Russell was booked for lashing out after a tackle. It looked like he had lost his composure and would get booked again so it was sensible move to bring on Luke Chadwick for the final half hour and let Russell calm down on the subs? bench.
Chadwick showed what Stoke had been missing in the first half. He harried their defence at every opportunity and Stoke started to dictate the play. It?s a shame to see that Sam Bangoura is nowhere near his pre-Christmas form. He?s still playing with a cast over his broken hand and with his absences in January and February seems goal shy. It was therefore, no surprise to see Hannes Sigurdsson replace him with ten minutes remaining.
Still a win is a win and a vital one at that. It?s always nice to put one over on Burnley and in the process record our first victory against the Clarets at the Britannia.
Who was our manager today?
In the absence of Jan de Koning. Johan Boskamp rolled out Gerry Taggart and Academy coach, Noel Blake. At one point all three were issuing instructions to the team at the same time. Chaos!