Stoke bag a point as keepers thwart poachers
Blackburn Rovers 0 Stoke City 0
Sunday 29 November 2009
In some respects, Stoke City are becoming victims of their own success. Picking up points is no longer enough for some of their supporters, they want opponents to be out-played as well as out-fought, so there was a certain irony in the fact that on a day when Stoke's manager, Tony Pulis, gave a start to Liam Lawrence, probably the most creative player at the club, the game should have finished goalless.
In fairness to both teams, however, it was not for lack of ambition that it did so. Both created four or five good chances, but two in-form goalkeepers, bad luck and poor finishing combined to produce a scoreline that will probably have those who were not present nodding cynically.
The first chance came early, when Franco Di Santo beat the offside trap but not the City goalkeeper, Thomas Sorensen. Dean Whitehead, played through by Ricardo Fuller at the other end, brought an even better save from the excellent Paul Robinson, and Lawrence, having already warmed Robinson's hands with a long-range effort, combined with Fuller to create the space for a close-range volley, which the goalkeeper blocked instinctively.
Stoke continued to look the more likely of the sides to break the deadlock after theinterval, Andy Wilkinson, played clear by Matthew Etherington's lay-off, slicing wide from an angle. But Rovers too continued to create, and Sorensen was required to push a Ryan Nelsen bicycle kick past the post before seeing Steven Nzonzi drive a shot against the outside of his left-hand post.
Neither side was prepared to settle for a point. Whitehead diverted Fuller's pass away from Etherington just as the winger seemed certain to turn the ball past Robinson, and James Beattie, on for Mamady Sidibe, scooped over from close range before the Rovers defender Chris Samba headed just wide at an injury-time corner.
"Our away performances have been better this season, we've learned a lot since last year when at times we were pretty dreadful," Pulis said. "At the same time, people mustn't get greedy, they forget we were out of the top division for 24 years and have to build step by step. To have 20 points after 14 games is first class for us."
Blackburn's assistant, Neil McDonald, deputising for manager Sam Allardyce, agreed the result had been a fair one. He confirmed that he had spoken to Allardyce earlier in the day, and that his boss expected to be discharged from hospital late yesterday after a successful angioplasty.
Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the match: Fuller
Match rating: 6/10
Latest in Sport
Arsenal vs Manchester City: With Arsene Wenger missing a number of key players, who could start the Community Shield clash?
Chelsea transfer news: Didier Drogba returns to Stamford Bridge on one-year deal
Manchester United: Five things we've learned so far about Louis van Gaal, including his ability to accommodate Juan Mata, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney
Liverpool transfer news: Reds 'in talks' to sign Benfica winger Nicolas Gaitan as summer spending threatens to exceed £100m
Manchester United transfer news: Angel Di Maria set to choose between Old Trafford and PSG in next few days
- 1 Calum Chambers: Southampton's latest example of Generation X-factor
- 2 Crash victims in car flattened by shipping container emerge with just minor injuries
- 3 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Joey Barton and Yossi Benayoun become involved in Twitter row over Israel-Gaza conflict
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains