Stoke City 1 Swansea City 1 match report: Chico Flores turns hero as he pinches a point for Swans at the Britannia Stadium
Draw keeps visitors at head of 11-strong group involved in Premier League relegation fight
the britannia stadium
Thursday 13 February 2014
Despite the treacherous weather responsible for postponements elsewhere, these sides conspired to produce a match that was full of intensity and some quality, in which a second-half header by Chico Flores cancelled out a first-half goal for Peter Crouch, who was aggrieved not to win a late penalty for a trip by Flores.
Replays proved inconclusive, although this - draw which keeps Swansea at the head of the 11-strong group that constitutes this season’s Premier League relegation fight - was a fair result. Swansea are a point ahead of Stoke, who remain three clear of the bottom three after winning only once in their last nine league matches.
There had been serious doubts over whether the match would go ahead at a stadium perched on the side of a hill and noted for its draughty characteristics even in August. Early inspections took place with the corner flags leaning at 45 degrees and the players’ tunnel threatening to take off, but referee Jonathan Moss, aided by a local forecast for an easing of the gale, resisted the temptation to call off the game, although the kick-off was delayed because falling trees had caused problems on the road network.
There was a time when Stoke’s game plan would have been seriously compromised in such conditions, but keeping the ball on the ground comes far more naturally since Mark Hughes took charge.
And the home side took the lead in the 17th minute after Charlie Adam, winning the ball from Jose Canas, powered towards the penalty area, tumbled, but still managed to release the ball to Peter Crouch, who in turn fed Peter Odemwingie.
Peter Crouch celebrates giving Stoke the lead (AP)
His diagonal shot from the right hit the left-hand post but rebounded to Crouch, who found the net via a slight deflection. The former England striker has now scored in all three of Stoke’s home matches against Swansea since the Welsh side returned to the top flight.
Marko Arnautovic almost doubled the lead within three minutes with a shot Swansea’s keeper Michel Vorm did well to push over the bar.
Swansea tried to play their way back into the game and Wilfried Bony’s neat turn opened up a chance for Pablo Hernandez, whose shot was charged down, then Nathan Dyer’s cross found Canas, who fired over the bar.
Eight yellow cards were shown as these sides fought out a 3-3 draw at the Liberty Stadium in November, and tempers flared before half-time after Adams had caught Dyer late, not for the first time. Adams was booked, but after leading a protest delegation on Dyer’s behalf, Swansea captain Ashley Williams was also cautioned after a spat with Stoke’s Jonathan Walters.
Swansea’s patience in retaining the ball left Stoke chasing shadows at times and they found the equaliser their play merited on 52 minutes.
Swansea's Nathan Dyer falls spectacularly as Marko Arnautovic comes away with the ball (Getty)
A corner on the left taken by Hernandez was repelled, but the Spanish forward was allowed to float the ball back into the Stoke box where Chico glanced the ball into the corner, past Begovic, for his third goal of the season.
Chico has been no stranger to headlines recently, first for a reported training ground clash with Swansea’s now interim head coach, Garry Monk, and more recently for his part in West Ham striker Andy Carroll’s controversial red card. The goal at least cast him in a better light, although Stoke fans just booed him more.
Swansea then went close to taking the lead when Bony’s effort, partly blocked by Begovic, was hooked off the line by Ryan Shawcross, and substitute Jonathan de Guzman drew a fine save from Begovic. At the other end, Crouch went down with Flores and was so incensed with the lack of a penalty he talked his way into the book.
Man of the match Dyer.
Match rating 7/10.
Referee J Moss (W Yorks).
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