It is good to know that there is still room for light entertainment in the deadly serious world of the Premier League; all the more so when any other sort is in such short supply as at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday. Those whose faces had not been frozen rigid in the fog were grateful to Hull City's Dean Windass and Paul McShane for supplying a reason to smile.
The veteran Windass, "angry and upset" at being denied a single start this season after scoring the goal that took his home-town club to promotion, decided to do his bit for the cause by warming up on the touchline precisely where Rory Delap was starting his Steve Backley run-up to spear a throw-in. The first time he got away with it; the second cost a yellow card and any chance of being brought on. "It affected you putting me on, didn't it?" Windass asked his manager, Phil Brown. "Yes," Brown replied.
By the second half Delap was having to use strategically placed red towels instead of his sodden shirt to wipe the ball for his throws. Hull, who have refused to be intimidated ever since stepping up into the big time after 104 years, retaliated when their right-back Paul McShane grabbed one to follow suit for a throw-in fully 80 yards from goal. Both managers were able to laugh about the incidents later from the security of a position that no one at either club could have confidently predicted when the teams last met, on New Year's Day in the Championship.
Only six outfield players from that 1-1 draw started on Saturday, among them Mamady Sidibe and Michael Turner, who were the outstanding performers for their respective sides.
Sidibe, a force of nature, flicked on the enormous hoof downfield that enabled his striking partner, Ricardo Fuller, to win and then convert a penalty as his team improved in the second half. Turner, once given away by Charlton, put in what Brown called "an England performance" that included heading down a free-kick for Marlon King's well-taken goal just before the interval.
Goals: King (45) 0-1; Fuller pen (73) 1-1.
Stoke City (4-4-2) Sorensen; Griffin, Cort, Abdoulaye Faye, Higginbotham; Soares (Tonge, 62), Amdy Faye, Diao, Delap; Sidibe, Fuller. Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Dickinson, Sonko, Olofinjana, Whelan, Cresswell.
Hull City (4-4-1-1) Myhill; McShane, Turner, Zayatte, Ricketts; Marney, Ashbee, Boateng (Cousin, 78), Barmby (Halmosi, 69); Geovanni (Garcia, 89); King. Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Mendy, Giannakopoulos, Windass.
Referee: K Stroud (Hampshire).
Booked: Stoke Griffin, Diao; Hull Windass, Myhill, Zayatte.
Man of the match: Sidibe.
A tale of two cities – Hull and Stoke met for the 55th time at the KC Stadium on Saturday. For the fourth successive meeting the result was 1-1, although,
unlike in the previous three games, Stoke had to come from behind to level.