Albert Adomah cancels out Sam Vokes as Aston Villa salvage point at Stoke

Stoke City 1-1 Aston Villa: The Potters honoured Gordon Banks with a moving tribute before kick-off

Matt Murphy
bet365 Stadium
Saturday 23 February 2019 21:59
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Albert Adomah's goal saw the spoils shared at the Bet365 Stadium
Albert Adomah's goal saw the spoils shared at the Bet365 Stadium

As a video montage played out minutes before kick-off, Stoke City fans were reminded once again what an incredible keeper they had in Gordon Banks. It’s just unfortunate that the archive footage was more exciting to sit through than most of the live action that followed.

The Potters started strong, and offered glimpses of guile on the break, but eventually let their guard slip and Aston Villa were allowed to snatch a point in the second half, in what was a dull afternoon starved of quality.

When the Football League fixture list was released last summer, many could’ve pictured this as a high-calibre, season-defining affair. With Aston Villa’s attacking style, and both clubs possessing a wealth of talent and Premier League experience, it will have left many questioning what went wrong – today and throughout their campaign. Dean Smith may have had numerous injury headaches, with eight missing today alone, and there have been managerial changes for each side, but the reality is they are both slowly sinking into mid-table.

It was a day though that belonged to Banks, as this was the Potters’ first home fixture since his passing. There was everything from a minute’s silence to a mosaic of his shirt number in the crowd and a picture of his young face adorning the programme. Jack Butland wore a plain green top in tribute and today’s No 1 made two excellent saves the England great would have doffed his cap to.

It only took four minutes for Stoke to open the scoring, Sam Vokes popping up for his first goal for the club. Though the striker is a man known for using his head, Sam Clucas’s ball in from the left saw Vokes use his heel instead, flicking it at goal on the turn. Jed Steer got a glove to it, but it trickled over the line – for the home side’s second goal in six games. It spurred Stoke forward for a short spell, but petered out, and Vokes lasted just another 12 minutes before limping off clutching his groin.

Villa’s luck had already suffered a bludgeoning moments before the goal though as Alan Hutton was forced off with a knee problem, adding another name to the list on the sidelines. His absence at right-back meant there were 10 men on the field when Stoke scored.

Midfield scraps and misplaced passes followed for the remainder of the first half and much of the second. Though Joe Allen was named man of the match, he was the best of a poor bunch. There was little to be entertained by – had Ray Winstone magically teleported any of those bettors from the bet365 advert into the stadium today, they’d have been frantically looking for the undo button.

Anwar El Ghazi looked lively for Villa down the left, and should’ve stuck away an equaliser headed towards the break. The midfielder had time as he was allowed through on goal, courtesy of a Danny Batth slip, but those blushes were saved as his shot came too early, and flew high and wide.

Sam Vokes celebrates with teammates after putting Stoke ahead (Action)

It was just after the hour when the game suddenly rose to life once more. After bounding down the left, a ball in from El Ghazi ran right across the box – similar to Voke’s goal – with substitute Albert Adomah queueing up with others on the edge of the box to lash his shot into the far corner; and Villa were level.

The visitors tested Butland again shortly after as they looked the more in control, with a header from Tammy Abraham palmed away dramatically, and a free-kick from Conor Hourihane flying narrowly wide. Villa’s star man Abraham had a particularly quiet afternoon.

A draw means Stoke have still only won once under Nathan Jones after nine games in charge. And just four points ahead, Villa are suffering a similar bout of dreary form – their one win since Boxing Day was at home to Ipswich. All signs, especially the performance here, are pointing towards a flat end to the season for the both of them.

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