Fan Focus - Stoke City (A) Post-Match Views

Now for the second part of our brilliant Fan Focus feature. We caught up with our Stoke City fan, Mark Holmes from TeamTalk.com, to give us his thoughts on Saturday's action packed game...

Hi Mark, I bet you’re delighted with the result, as you can guess, I’m not! How did you see things?

Mark: You asked me before the game whether there’d been a shift from the long ball game we were noted for, and my answer was ‘yes and no’. In many respects our football against you was terrible – our distribution from the back and two centre midfielders was appalling – but we made the most of our two wingers.

I was really, really impressed with Sessegnon for you and thought you played the better football throughout but, by hook or by crook, we made more chances and thankfully we made them count in the end. And we don’t always play like that... honest... but we really needed to win this one and I don’t really care how we did it! But you’ve got every reason to feel hard done by.

I have to say, I found the referee to be a massive homer today, how would you assess his performance?

Mark: I thought the referee had a good game but then I would say that, wouldn’t I? Seriously though, I didn’t spot the offside (which is the linesman’s job anyway) or the alleged handball so I think it’d be harsh to criticise the referee on those counts. He did give us more of the 50-50s to be fair but I’m sure you get more decisions at home too – and I haven’t forgotten Cattermole’s juggling act on the line at the SOL!

It might have been because I was in the away end as opposed to watching on TV, but I didn’t hear much of Stokes ‘Famous’ atmosphere, well until it was 2-2 anyway. Just the effect of being on Sky/less in attendance?

Mark: Not at all. Much was made of our atmosphere in the first season and rightly so because it was fantastic. Unfortunately – and I’m sure you’ve experienced this yourselves – fans become more expectant over time and, with respect, the majority of people will have turned up expecting us to beat you. There’s not so much of a siege mentality anymore.

The performance obviously didn’t help either. We stood off you far too much and that never goes down with the natives down here. But you saw how we can affect things after it went to 2-2 – we dragged our lot over the line after that.

Who was your stand out man from each team? I’d highlight Sessegnon for us, and for your lot I thought Matty Etherington. His crosses were spot on all game.

Mark: Sessegnon was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch. He’s strong and can tackle but he’s got a great turn of pace on him too and can pass the thing – are midfielders meant to do that?!

I actually thought Etherington was poor for us at times but he was brilliant in the last 20 minutes, as were most of our lot. I’d give our man of the match to Pennant purely for his crossing – he put so many good deliveries in we were bound to capitalise eventually.

Do you think this result will kick start your season after a few down results? Nothing beats a last minute goal for confidence.

Mark: Absolutely, yes. We’ve not been playing well recently and looked short on confidence again today but this result should get us back on track and hopefully we’ll start playing good football again – we were playing some excellent stuff earlier in the season, believe it or not.

Pulis is a safety first manager and has clearly been worried we could get dragged into the relegation scrap but we look a lot healthier now and hopefully that’ll give him confidence to send the players out to play a bit more expansively in the coming weeks.

Where do you see our two teams finishing this year?

Mark: I said on the TEAMtalk Podcast recently (shameless plug) that Sunderland were my favourites for sixth place this season but I think Liverpool will probably get that now. You’ll be there or thereabouts, though, and I hope we will too. If we finish above you again, we’ll have had an excellent season. Good luck.

Thanks for taking part Mark, I hope we can do this again next season!


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