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Thread: Stoke 2 United 2 - report

  1. #1
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    Aug 2008
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    Stoke 2 United 2 - report

    Sorry for the tardiness in getting this out….I watched the match from the beam back and then had a few cold drinks down Eccy Road/London Road with mates before heading to the Railway and then the Car Park to meet my family and then the Cricketers and then the Beer Engine….you get the idea. I could barely see a computer screen let alone type anything. A superb day though – more on the scenes when the bus came in later on in the report…..oh and don’t forget I will be doing my traditional end of season report in the next few days…probably be out around Thursday/Friday – I may even do a review of the celebrations rate each player for their efforts over the last week or so! Will anyone rival Stearman and Egan for top marks?

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    United ended the season with an entertaining 2-2 draw at the 365 Stadium twice coming from behind to take a point. Norwich won at Villa Park making the result irrelevant in some ways but it was nice for United to ensure they took something from the game despite the Championship title evading them. In reality, it mattered little as United fans continue to celebrate a superb season and promotion. The fans were in party mood as Wilder’s team took the field at this level for the final time, hopefully for quite a while, but the performance was a little flat at times particularly in the first half. Maybe some players were still feeling the excesses of the previous week but as we come to expect, the superb fighting spirit was in evidence again as the side put in a much improved second half performance.

    Sharp was back in for Hogan as United started with arguably their strongest line up. Backed by a packed away end and thousands more watching on a beam back, United took to the field wearing their day glow shirt evoking memories of a final day on the same date some 29 years ago when they won promotion under Dave Bassett.

    The early stages saw United moving the ball about well and show the football that has earned them so many plaudits. They did not create much though other than an appeal for a penalty after Woods tangled with McGoldrick. Gradually Stoke came into the game with Etebo starting to become influential. McClean came inside and shot just wide and then Etebo went down as the ball went out but again the referee was having none of it.

    Etebo had an effort curled wide and the home side were now on top and took the lead soon after. United appealed for offside and indecision then followed and O’Connell did not get enough distance on his header and the ball dropped to VOKES who hit a dipping volley that flew past Henderson. It was a good goal from the home side’s perspective but a poor one to concede.

    Stoke came again soon after and Vokes then hit a shot over as Stoke continued to look the better team. Fleck was booked for a clear foul after Duffy had lost possession. United had a good chance though when Stevens overlapped and sent over a cross that Martins Indi could not clear and Sharp hit a shot that looked goal bound. Shawcross seemed to use his hand to clear the ball onto his own post and despite the appeals the referee made a poor mistake and missed the clear offence. Stoke raced up the other end and Ince came onto the ball and pulled a low shot that beat Henderson and hit the inside of the post and came out. The half time whistle came not long after and with Norwich drawing, United would need a big turnaround in results to win the title.

    Wilder made two changes with Duffy and Norwood withdrawn for Dowell and Lundstram. United instantly seemed to be more up for the challenge. Lundstram and Fleck both got on the ball in the early stages and a leveller came just three minutes after the restart. Fleck made the goal with a surging run and he played it inside to DOWELL who fired home will a well-placed finish.

    United now were on top. Fleck went on another mazy run before Lundstram then also broke through but opted to pass when a shot may have been better. Sharp then found Baldock who nearly got in on the angle.

    Afobe came on for Martins Indi for Stoke and then Woods was booked for bringing down McGoldrick. Stoke still looked dangerous on the break but it was the away side playing the better football now. It was ironic then that the home side then regained the lead.

    Egan sliced a ball behind that led to a corner and from McClean’s’ delivery the marking was slack and SHAWCROSS turned the ball home with a volley from close range for a rare goal.

    United made their final change with Basham coming off for Madine as United tried to get extra men at the top of the field and try and fight back again.

    United had a series of chances with McGoldrick’s header tipped over when he should have done better and then Fleck’s low shot nearly deceiving Butland who saved with his foot as he fell awkwardly in keeping it out. McGoldrick then curled well over but United did get back level with 13 minutes left.

    Sharp held it up well and played it across to STEVENS who came in on the angle and hit a low shot right into the corner. It was his fourth goal in six games. Some United players celebrated together but captain Sharp ran back to the centre circle wit the ball knowing with Norwich drawing, the title could still be back on.

    Bojan came on for Ince and then Adam made his final appearance for Stoke replacing Woods. The game became very open after this and both sides had opportunities with men over as defence went out of the window.

    News that Norwich were winning now meant the final moments were in affect meaningless but United were going for it and wanted to win. They had several chances but chose the wrong final pass or ball. Dowell had a shot that Butland nearly fumbled into his own net and then as McGoldrick beat two men on a mazy run shaped to shoot but was tackled. Stoke broke and the slipped pass found Afobe but Henderson came out and made a big save smothering the one on one chance on the angle.

    The final whistle came soon after and United’s players came back onto the field after Stoke had completed a lap of honour in their final home game of the season. John Egan led the chants once again and the team spirit was in evidence again. The players would then head back to Sheffield and the Bramall Lane car park to celebrate with the fans yet again.


    United – We did not play great at all. The first half we were shocking at times as we coughed up possession, sat off them and they could have scored more goals. The players still looked inebriated at times! We gave away a sloppy goal as players made mistakes in the lead up but they could have had more. Our flair players Didsy and Duff were not at it and we did not win the midfield and they had a lot of time on the ball. We had a spell towards the end of the half and of course they were lucky that it was not a penalty and a red card never mind the fact it hit the post after – they then hit the post.

    He made two changes at the break which was not a surprise although Norwood coming off was a bit – maybe had a knock but he had not played great either. Lundstram played well and he got into the Stoke players and then Dowell scored. So, the impact they made was really positive. After we scored, we looked the more likely but it was an open game and they had chances as did we. It became a bit Basketball-ey and they had a chance and then so did we. I felt we did look better but then a stupid goal where we did not stop the corner and then as it came in, we did not mark properly. I felt that might be it but we came again and McGoldrick had two chances and should have scored. We then did get a leveller with Stevens scoring yet again! After this we kind of went for it and left gaps at the back. Dowell nearly scored but then at the end they could have snatched it! The result did not matter really as Norwich won but it would have been annoying to have lost the last game so good, we managed to get a point and the second half was so much better and more like the team we have seen.

    I will say a lot more about the team and discuss individuals and the areas of the team in the coming week or so – so today I will not discuss the future. We should just enjoy the celebrations as the team did and with the town hall parade to come also, it will go on a bit longer yet!

  2. #2
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    Stoke – Deserved a draw and at times played some decent attacking stuff but also showed some deficiencies too and 2nd half I felt we were the better team and on top when they scored the second goal. First half they were much better and deserved to lead and could have had a few more. They got away with the hand ball

    They have tons of talented players and it is ridiculous they are where they are in the league. Even today against a team that has been on the ale most of the week, they did not exactly dominate although they scored two good goals (from their point of view) and had a few other decent efforts just wide, onto the post or saved. The sub bench alone has a player that cost over 10 million was it in Afobe, the Wales captain Williams, former Barcelona player in Bojan, Charlie Adam and Diouf. Every single one of them will probably be on double or even triple the wage of our highest earner.

    Jones has not seen much on an upturn in results. They have drawn a lot and been harder to beat but the real test will come next season as the crowd will expect them to be definitely in the top 6 and in around the automatic places. That is where they should have been this season but a disastrous managerial appointment saw Rowett make a right pig’s ear of it. Imagine Wilder with that squad?

    Not quite sure Jones has got what he wants yet at Stoke. He is playing a similar formation to the one at Luton and has two players supporting one front man and then a three in the middle. The side at Luton pressed and worked hard to regain possession and played attacking football. They got it forward quite quickly but then moved it about in the final third. Still not sure he has got his blueprint on this Stoke side yet and with a mixture of old players who lack pace and dynamism and some good ones who can play the way he wants; it will take a while to mould things together. They have parachute payments though so can still spend but think he may do it differently than the Ince/Afobe type of signings.

    They do have some players that probably need moving on and some older players are leaving I see in Fletcher, Adam etc. They need to actually sign some players at this level who are younger and hungry. Too many seem to have gone through the motions this year.







    Opponent man of the match – Etebo ran the game first half. Big, strong and powerful, he got on the ball and we struggled to hold up his runs and play. He faded a bit after the break. Vokes scored a good goal but was quieter after that. The lad at the back Bauer was decent too and got forward well. Butland is a very good keeper and although not troubled too much today; if we did not get Henderson, he would be a superb signing but probably on wages even at this level in excess of what we could afford and cost over 10 million pounds sadly.

    Weak link – No one was really awful but I will comment on some players who are very talented but seem to be very average now and have contributed to such a low placing. Woods is a player I loved at Brentford but seen him a number of times for Stoke and he looks nowhere near the player I remembered being one of the best at this level in his position. I think Wilder could really turn him back around and would love us to sign him to add competition in the midfield area as we do not have a like for like type for either Fleck or Norwood and he can kind of do a bit of both. Tom Ince cost a lot of money but today he showed that he is just sort of ambling along now after looking like he would go on and be some player. Still got talent (good run and shot that hit the post) but does not do enough

    Shawcross is a player that has been there for ages and seems to have regressed quite a bit when I have seen him this year. He was talked about as being an England player only a few years ago. He scored a good goal today and then saved (!) a goal and should have been sent off really and facing a ban for the start of next season.


    Henderson 7/10 – No chance on either goal even though the first one was from range. He was a bit slow down to a few other shots and the Ince one nearly beat him but hit the post when he seemed to take ages to react. Outside of this his handling was good and he came off his line a few times well. Made one ***** save right at the end to ensure we got a point as Afobe came in on goal.

    Baldock 6.5/10 – McClean was a tricky opponent for him and he got away from him and got a few crosses in. He was decent on the ball when he had it but could not penetrate much to begin with but gradually moved up the field and started to attack more. Won us a few corners with breaks down the right. His final ball still was not there again when in good positions but his energy levels were high again.

    Stevens 7/10 – Another good performance. He has been so consistent recently. He was caught out on the first goal a bit and seemed to be looking for offside (not seen it back yet so not sure if it was off?). He got penned back a bit by Stoke and could not advance like he normally does. Second half was much more like it as he got down the flank and played almost as a winger. Dowell helped as we had another player willing to run with it and create space/draw men. He took his goal superbly again and is on fire for a full back/wing back in terms of goalscoring with 4 goals in the final month and a bit.

    Egan 6/10 – Like the rest of the defence, not sure they were tight enough to the likes of Vokes and Ince and we sat off and allowed them to run at us – not helped by the forward players not keeping the ball and the midfield not pressing. He was just a bit slow to deal with things and I felt they moved off the defence and caused problems and could have scored a few more. After the break he was more into it and we were tighter and more disciplined. However, sliced out for the corner they scored from. He must be exhausted at all the singing he has been doing – on the pitch and on the team bus! Not quite McCartney but he really has penned an epic song that will always be remembered!

    O’Connell 6/10 – Caught ball watching a few times today. He made some clearances and tried to get forward but felt he was more reserved today. Poor on the first goal as his header lacked distance and width and the lad got on it and hit a good shot. After this I felt he lost his man on a few other occasions but was more forceful in his challenges and defensive play second half.

    Basham 6/10 – A bit up and down, literally! He got forward but sometimes stumbled when it came to the final part (he fell over his own feet in true Bash comedy style at one point). Defensively he was ok and kept it simple but lost his man crucially on the goal – you should never score a volley from a corner really and did not get tight enough. Came off for Madine as we went to 4 at the back for the final period of the game.

    Fleck 7/10 – First half I felt him and Norwood were passive in their play on and off the ball. We did not really get close enough to stop them coming through the lines and it was too easy the ball coming into the front men. On the ball he was a bit safe too and not really running with it. Second half, alongside Lundstram, he was so much better and like a different player. He ran with it, snapped at players heels and dictated play. If Etebo was the best player in the first half, he was the best player in the second half. Nearly scored with one low shot. One sublime ball to Baldock nearly made a goal. We need to see that every game and for both halves from him. He inspired much of the comeback and the good play after the break.

    Norwood 6/10 – His passing early on was kept nice and simple and he did not try too many adventurous balls. However, I felt him and Fleck sat off in terms of pressing and harrying and they had too much time on the ball and had runners getting beyond us. He tried to move it on quicker as the half went on but a game where he was quite ordinary. Surprised he went off though as we never normally take him off but heard reports he may be facing a hernia operation and that is why he is not making himself available for Northern Ireland – does seem to make sense with him not playing for them in recent games either as he probably wanted to not risk really injuring it and putting him out for a longer period.

  3. #3
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    Duffy 4/10 – Had a bit of a shocker. In many of the run-in games he has been poor actually (Ipswich was excellent last week) but found odd moments of quality to help us turn games (Birmingham, Forest) but today nothing worked at all. He gave it away, turned into trouble and just had one of those days and no surprise he was hooked at half time.

    Sharp 6/10 – Worked hard but not a lot of service really. Had one really good chance that was saved by a defender with his hand but Sharp should have scored anyway really. Second half he was a bit more involved and started to hold it up and link play a bit and worked harder for the team. Involved in the equaliser with good hold up and pass to Stevens. Did not get any other chances really other than one ball Lundstram played that saw him crowded out.

    McGoldrick 5.5/10 – Not his best game at all and the worst he has played for some time. His touch was shocking a lot of the game as it bounced off him or came away. He tried to come short and link things but it did not work first half. Second half he was a bit better but missed a really good headed chance and then shot over on the angle. Had one mazy run at the end where he put a player on his backside and beat another but then lost it and they broke and nearly scored at the death on the break. As the boys on the ‘Under the Cosh’ vlog remarked looked like he had maybe enjoyed the celebrations this week looking at his performance!

    Subs –

    Dowell 6.5/10 – Was not great but played much better than Duffy by the fact he scored a well taken goal, had another shot that Butland nearly made a mess of. The rest of his play was poor actually – he lost the ball a few times and played some bad passes behind men or into the wrong area. He has done well at times and given us a good option but sure he will go back to Everton now – as with only two loans (Henderson being one you expect) not sure he would use the other one on him.

    Lundstram 7/10 – Played well when he came on and we improved in the middle. We won more tackles, got about them more and he linked well too. Played a few nice passes and had one good run where he should have scored really.

    Madine – Came on at 2-1 for Bash as we went for a leveller. Won a few headers and had one shot well off target. Tried to link things when he could but not too involved. Be interesting if Wilder thinks he could be a plan B type striker even higher up. I personally feel we can do better than him.





    Wilder 7/10 – Made sure he earned his corn by making two subs and giving them a bit of a talking to at half time. First half was flat and we were off it and too many below par. He made the changes to give us a bit of new life and the team played higher up the field. We got closer to the Stoke midfield and pressed better. He went for it with his final change in bringing Madine on and loved the fact we still went for the win at the end.

    Referee – Geoff Eltringham. Missed a key moment with a clear handball and red card offence and that would have been a penalty and Stoke with ten men. It seemed quite clear cut even watching on the screens at the Lane! Both Woods and Fleck’s bookings were right. I felt he did not give us much all game and a lot of 50-50’s went for them including a few goal kicks they got that should have been corners.


    Day out / post match – As I said earlier, we watched it on the beam back at the Lane. Ironically, I could have got a ticket for Stoke but waited for my mate who was eligible day two and then it sold out quickly of course. I was offered home end ones in the lead up but only single tickets and I did not really want to go alone – also not fair on my family and a lot of my mates as they could not go. That is the problem with the loyalty points. There is no way I can take my son to all the big grounds next season which is a shame but then you have to have a system so I cannot moan as those who have been to the most games will always deserve tickets but hard for new fans like my son to catch me up. There will always be 2-3000 who mean he can never get a ticket for such games.

    Always a surreal event at the beam backs as there is never much singing and it more like going to the theatre/cinema really. It was nearly full though. There were three screens and the screen in the corner of course but they seemed smaller than the Northampton ones? The one in the middle was a bit bigger so you got lucky if you were nearer that one. The coverage was fine although you could barely hear the commentator. They did say we could take beers in the ground but that was then changed leading to lots of people necking beer just before they went in! Lot of odd characters there and it seemed many of my what I term ‘day trippers’ (see future Dem Blades fanzine!) and a lot wanted to eat and drink more than watch it. Indeed, many were just stood in the concourse watching.

    One of the biggest cheers was for the plane that flew over with the banner, ‘Mind the Gap – this City is Ours’. People literally pointing at an aeroplane! I am not sure about this sort of stuff personally but sure it wound quite a few Wednesday fans as it flew over Hillsborough a few minutes later. It then came back over the Lane of course on its way back.

    After the game went down Ecclesall Road to Champs/Sheaf Island for a few beers and then back to the Lane – we saw a huge flag and several flares with most in position already outside the Railway and loads in the car park. We had a few beers in the Railway and there was great singing and dancing to all the songs with Allez, allez, allez getting the biggest blast of them all! My lad loved mingling with the fans and did not seem to care about being buffered about as we leapt up and down. We went back to the car park as people said the bus was only 20 miles away. My wife had kindly bought beer and so stayed there for a period right near the barrier; although these were pointless as the team arrived past the Railway and then into the car park and down the side near the South Stand/Bramall Lane end. The players looked genuinely shocked at the amount down there and with flares aplenty being lit and songs being sang it was a great party atmosphere. The players came off and many crowds surfed into the ground – they went onto the pitch area and then I assume back into the executive suite where they had another party – complete with sombrero’s (search for Martin Cranie singing Wonderwall in his pants on social media – ‘Say Cranie – instead of Baby’). The rest of the fans continued to party either in the car park or many of the pubs around Bramall Lane, London Road and Eccy road. We went into the hotel and it was great scenes similar to the ones from last week but without the players this time! Tremendous stuff and we were all very drunk. My son was shattered and had been lifted shoulder high by strangers! They went home and I stayed with a few mates – we went to the Cricketers for another sing song and then the Beer Engine. I sat with a vodka and coke and might have even fell asleep as my mate never came back from the toilet – I assumed he had stumbled home. I recall walking into a sign on my way home and have a few bruises. I also have a really sore calf. Not sure what happened there. Been a memorable week and seeing everyone in the car park yesterday was superb. I seem to be permanently spending my time searching for videos or pictures on social media of different Untied related things. We still have the town hall parade to come too – I will write a few words on that and rate the players celebrations. Will then post my end of season review later in the week and release it in stages - it’s rather long and also, I have not finished it yet!

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