Stoke City 2 Bristol City 1: Pottermouth's clarion call heeded by Sidibe
Monday 21 April 2008
It may have barely been audible over the Britannia Stadium PA system but "Pottermouth's battle cry" says it all about Stoke's push for the Premier League and can also serve as a useful guide to the feature writers who are likely to descend on the Potteries over the next couple of weeks.
The two-minute address, written and performed by an anonymous fan on a local radio phone-in a couple of weeks ago when Stoke were wobbling, implores Tony Pulis's players to "do it for Sir Stan, Gordon Banks, Wright's pies, oatcakes, the blokes that call each other duck" and, with two games left and a three-point cushion, it looks like they are going to. An impressive performance saw the striker Mamady Sidibe double his goal tally with two first-half efforts before Dele Adebola's header midway through the second period set up a tense finish but Stoke came through the final quarter of the game without conceding again to move up to second in the table.
Just a trip to already relegated Colchester and a home game against struggling Leicester on the final day stand between Stoke and a return to the top flight following a 23-year absence. However, Pulis has remained cautious and his captain, Rory Delap, was also leaving talk of the Premier League to Pottermouth, while older Stoke fans will remember the three wins from 42 matches that meant their team were relegated with 17 points in 1985.
"I don't really want to comment on how we'd do in the Premiership," Delap said. "We just want to get there first and if we get there next week or the week after, you can ask me then. We just need to carry it on now and there's strength and character in the team to do that."
They showed plenty of that on Saturday after Sidibe headed his team in front from Liam Lawrence's free-kick and then calmly finished off a quick break to double the lead before half-time. Bristol City rallied after the interval and piled pressure on the hosts, with Adebola thumping in a header from Michael McIndoe's corner.
Ryan Shawcross had to clear off the line from Adebola but Stoke held on to leave the visitors, who were promoted only last summer, looking at a place in the play-offs. Their manager, Gary Johnson, said: "There's still two games to go and the play-offs. If the team's not ready, the table will tell us so."
Goals: Sidibe (14) 1-0; Sidibe (36) 2-0; Adebola (67) 2-1.
Stoke City (4-4-2): Nash; Riggott, Cort, Shawcross, Dickinson; Lawrence (Wilkinson, 90), Delap, Whelan, Cresswell (Pearson, 82); Sidibe (Ameobi, 88), Fuller. Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Pugh.
Bristol City (4-4-2): Basso; Orr, McCombe, Carey, McAllister; B Wilson (Noble, h-t), Elliott (Vasko, 88), Skuse, McIndoe; Byfield (Trundle, 46), Adebola. Substitutes not used: Weale (gk), Fontaine.
Referee: M Riley (West Yorkshire).
Booked: Stoke City Lawrence, Fuller; Bristol City McIndoe.
Man of the match: Sidibe.
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