Match Review: Stoke City 2-1 Swansea

A very nervy afternoon at the Bet 365 but a huge 3 points nonetheless. This wasn’t particularly pretty but the lads got the job done. A feeling of relief at the final whistle was widespread such was the importance of this result.

Mark Hughes had opted for a 4-4-2 formation selecting Bruno Martins Indi in the centre of defence and dropping the unconvincing  Wimmer to the bench. Zouma slotted in at right back and Diouf started as a centre forward alongside Peter Crouch. Oh and Jack Butland was recalled replacing Lee Grant following his speedy recovery from a broken finger. This was a positive formation and pretty much what most people had been calling for.

Despite this, we were all stunned to silence after just 3 minutes when typically a former Stoke man Wilfried Bony scored a great goal in front of the Boothen End. The mood was low inside the stadium and the crowd was quiet. For the next 35 minutes we huffed and puffed without creating any real openings to score.  It therefore came as a welcome surprise when our man of the season Xherdan Shaqiri scored a great opportunist goal on 36 minutes. Just 4 minutes later  Mame Diouf finished well to give us a crucial 2-1 half time lead. It had been a tough watch for most of it if I am being completely honest.

The second half was also a scrappy affair. It started badly when Bruno sustained a bad groin injury delaying the game for some 7 minutes until he was stretchered off. After this we didn’t show enough quality to get the all important 3rd goal to calm our nerves. Swansea did have spells of pressure and possession that made things feel uneasy for large parts. There was a heart in the mouth moment when a Ryan Shawcross header flew towards his own goal forcing Jack into a world class save.

Despite 7 minutes of injury time at the end of the game, we stood firm to claim a much needed 3 points. It wasn’t pretty and certainly won’t be enough to convince many of the detractors but like I have said – they got the job done. The win even helped my Acca to come in but admittedly, I had to cash out early such is my lack of confidence in us at the moment.

A special mention must go to Erik Pieters too. I thought Hughes might have left him out of the side after some recent poor performances. Despite some early unconvincing touches and sections of the crowd on his case, he dug in and showed great character to put in a committed performance.

I hate to see our own fans on players backs even if it is understandable, we must of course all stick together.  The atmosphere is not so good at the moment, it is full of tension. We must put personal opinions to one side and unite from 3 pm. Raise the noise levels and support, after all, we can be amongst the best around when we are on it too. The Bet 365 doesn’t feel so intimidating at the moment.

Anyway it’s onto Spurs and Wembley next. Now that will be a tough assignment but I’d love to be surprised and take something from the game.

Keep the faith.

By James Lockett

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