Yesterday, i took my second trip to Stoke On-Trent this week when travelling to the Bet365 Stadium for Stoke’s encounter against Birmingham City. Both sides came into Saturdays game in fine form with the hosts unbeaten in their last 3 while Birmingham are unbeaten in their last 8. The Potters have won their last 2 matches, winning comfortably 2-0 against Bolton 3 weeks ago before picking up a fantastic 1-0 victory away to Norwich before the international break. After Saturdays result, the Blues are now unbeaten in 9 ( Drawing 6, Winning 3), and are only 4 points off of the play off positions. It was expected to be a fantastic game and atmosphere with over 28,000 expected to be at the Bet365 Stadium with Birmingham selling out their 3,221 allocation. The attendance was a bit of history as it was Stokes highest attendance outside the top flight for 55 years.
Stoke had 9 players away on international duty last week and manager Gary Rowett says there are ” One or Two little knocks but they will be given late fitness tests”.
The Potters made one change to the squad who were trying to win 3 consecutive games for the first time since 2016 with Bojan taking the place of Etebo Karo.
Gary Monk has Craig Gardner back in full training after recovering from a knock while Issac Vassell is back running on the grass after a hip injury but wont make Saturdays game. David Davis is still out with an ankle injury.
The Blues made 1 change from the side that defeat Rotherham 2 weeks ago with Jacques Maghoma dropping out to be replaced by Connor Mahoney
The game got under way in the very noisy Bet365 Stadium, with both sets of fans signing their hearts out. It was a very slow start to the game with everything being cancelled out in midfield. The first sight of goal didn’t come until 15 minutes and it was the away side who went close. Connor Mahoney won a free-kick on the right-hand side of the box. Jota delivered the ball into the box before it met the head of Michael Morrison who headed over the crossbar. Stoke nearly took the lead after 21 minutes, when Cuco Martina delivered a low ball into the area which Birmingham defender Kristian Pederson took a swipe at and it nearly ended up in his own net as it clipped the top of the bar. The Potters had another chance to open the scoring after 27 minutes. Joe Allen wormed his way into the box before claiming for a penalty for a push. It was waved away by referee, Roger East before the ball broke to Bojan, who drilled the ball towards goal which was fantastically tipped around the post by Lee Camp to deny what looked like the opening goal. The final chance of a very tight opening 45 minutes came just before the break when Jota broke free on the counter-attack before playing in Che Adams, who got the ball and had a shot at goal from a difficult angle but wasn’t able to test Jack Butland in the Potters net.
Half Time- Stoke City 0-0 Birmingham City
The second half got underway in Stoke On-Trent. After 48 minutes, Stoke were awarded a free-kick in dangerous territory after Tom Ince was tripped by Morrison, however Ince seen his effort strike off the wall. Jack Butland was called into his first serious bit of action after 61 minutes. when Mahoney done brilliantly down the left, before cutting inside onto his right and firing towards goal, which Butland saved well. The rebound fell for Che Adams but the English international saved Adams efforts also. The best chance of the game by far came after 66 minutes, when Maxime Collin darted down the right before wriggling past 2 Stoke defenders and unleashing a thunderous effort at goal which smashed off the underside off the crossbar. The rebound fell to Lukas Jutkiewicz who’s acrobatic overhead kick went over the bar, however he was flagged offside. Tom Ince was inches away from an equaliser after 70 minutes, when some nice play between himself and Bojan led to a curling effort which just deflected by Lee Camps post. The Blues broke the deadlock 9 minutes from time when a pass was worked out to Jacques Maghoma on the left, before sliding in Jutkiewicz . The striker drilled an effort across goal to the free Che Adams, who slammed the effort home, sending the sold out away end behind the goal into madness. Stoke starting sending bodys forward in search of an equaliser. There was a huge goalmouth scramble after 84 minutes when a Cuco Martina cross found the head of the giant, Peter Crouch, who headered the ball back across the face off goal, which led to penalty claims, 4/5 blocked efforts and an injury or 2 but somehow the ball didn’t cross the line. There is no doubt that Birmingham got a bit of luck after 85 minures when referee, Roger East missed a clear handball in the blues penalty area when goal scorer Che Adams handled on the line to stop an equaliser from Crouch at the back post. Their was another huge penalty claim which should have been given from the resulting corner. The corner found the head of Crouch who headed it down to Berahino, his shot was cleared off the line to Joe Allen, who’s effort was going in until Michael Morrison clearly handled it off the line again. It got very heated down at the technical area, which led to Stoke boss Gary Rowatt being sent off down the tunnel. It was a fantastic ending to the game in Stoke, which was full of drama. Birmingham did just about manage to cling onto all 3 points as it finished, Stoke City 0-1 Birmingham City.
Stoke City XI
Butland, Martina, Williams, Martins-Indi, Pieters, Woods, McClean(71), Allen, Bojan(71), Ince, Afobe(80)
Subs- Federici, Adam(71), Berahino(71), Crouch(80), Edwards, Fletcher, Shawcross
Birmingham City XI
Camp, Collin, Morrison, Dean, Pedersen(72), Jota, Kieftenbeld, Gardner, Mahoney(62), Jukiewicz, Adams(87)
Subs- Trueman, Cogley, Harding(74), Lubala, Maghoma(62), Roberts(87), Solomon-Otabor
Referee- Roger East
Assistants – H Lennard & M Scholes
Fourth Official – A Holmes
Attendance 28,16- (3,221 Away)
Yellow Cards- Pedersen(33), Williams(45), Jota(90)
Red Cards – 0