Shock for Stoke

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Huddersfield Town 1

Prudhoe og 73

Stoke City 1

Sheron 48

Attendance: 15,071

A FARCICAL blunder by the Stoke City goalkeeper, Mark Prudhoe, deprived his team-mates of the victory they richly deserved in this meeting of sides with Premiership pretensions.

There was no threat to Stoke's lead when the goalkeeper went to kick clear a back-pass from Kevin Keen. Although he appeared to have sliced it into his net, Prudhoe was adamant afterwards that it had bobbled on the pitch and that he had not touched it.

"That's the trouble. He should have done," said his manager, Lou Macari, who was not about to absolve him from blame over a detail like that. Macari's opposite number, Brian Horton, called it "the most bizarre goal I've ever seen.

"We've nicked it," continued Horton. "We didn't deserve anything from the game." It was indeed the first time Huddersfield Town had looked like scoring and terribly rough justice for a Stoke side that had made all the running, despite losing both of their first-choice strikers with injuries during the game.

Their usual dangerman, Paul Peschisolido, limped off early and Mike Sheron was carted away on a stretcher with a hamstring problem in the second half.

By then, however, the former Manchester City and Norwich forward had put his side ahead, meeting a cross from Peschisolido's replacement, Simon Sturridge, with a clinical side-footed volley three minutes after half- time.

All the other clear opportunities also came Stoke's way.Their left-winger, the appropriately named Graham Potter, was also an important contributor, teasing Huddersfield with his close control and ability to get in the telling cross. It was a fragment of Pottery that should have brought Stoke a second goal to put the game beyond doubt, but Sturridge could not force the ball past Steve Francis.

Huddersfield could not blame the conditions for their ineptitude. The McAlpine Stadium is not only the Building of the Year, it also surrounds the Pitch of the Week, but on that near-perfect playing surface it was Stoke who showed all the appreciation.

Prudhoe's glaring error was a cruel blow for his side. He tried to make up for it, producing three good saves in the time remaining as Huddersfield, inspired by his generosity, at last sparked into life.