What The Gaffer Said
In speaking wit the club's official website post-match, Paolo Di Canio said:
When I hear the fans I feel as though I have my family in the stands, they are amazing. They were so loud for the whole game - they are something unique.
This is why I say with the combination of these fans and the players' fighting spirit we deserve to stay up.
Craig [Gardner] has said sorry to everyone in the dressing room. I would prefer it that players do not get themselves in a situation to have to say sorry for their actions, but we know Craig, we know he has a big heart but he has to learn, he has made a mistake.
I can't defend his challenge, it was very bad, but it's done and it's possible that it [Gardner's sending off] gave us the motivation to go on and get something from the game.
Spot on again from Di Canio in the post-match comments. The fans were unbelievable and Gardner is an idiot. Speaking of which...
Craig Gardner has been taken to heart of late for his antics off the pitch and some ok-ish performances on it, but last night was just another blot on what was becoming an improving copy-book for the former Birmingham midfielder.
The red card he received for a potentially leg-breaking lunge on Charlie Adam was thoroughly justified, and he can't have any complaints at all. It was dangerous and uncalled for in today's game.
The sort of silver-lining to this is that he will miss the final two games, and we played pretty well in the two he's already missed under Paolo Di Canio, and abysmally in those he has played.
Johnson Steps Up
I had my doubts about Adam Johnson playing behind the main striker, and for a frustratingly long period in the first half it seemed I was destined to be right as he spent most the time miles away from Danny Graham.
In the second half, a man down, he was possibly the last player you thought would knuckle down and put in one hell of s shift - which he certainly did as he teased and tormented the Stoke City defence for the remainder of the evening. A standout performance for the expensive summer signing, and much more like what we wanted from him in the first place.
N'Diaye Continues To Impress
Obviously nowhere near the level Johnson was, who was ahead of everyone on the pitch, but Alfred N'Diaye had another good game in midfield, breaking play up well and generally being a tower of power in the heart of the engine room.
At this rate he's going to look an absolute snip at a reported £3.5m we paid in January for his services.
Jack Colback Of All Trades
Strangely it wasn't Jack Colback at right-back, or left-back even but left-wing. Unfortunately that little experiment didn't really work out too much, but when shifted to right-back in place of both Gardner and Phil Bardsley he was once again a revelation.
Whether you like him or not as a footballer, he does have a very good consistency at a reasonable level which is hard to come bay and could be invaluable moving forward.
Graham Can't Do It Alone
In general it's been said that Danny Graham has been a poor signing. I'd agree too, barring a couple of hard-working performances against Newcastle and Everton. It seems thought the problem is he can't do it alone.
Stephane Sessegnon is/was looking pretty good in partnership with him and that looked like it would eventually bear fruit. Without him though he's looking abysmal.
Graham's going to have to be the man for the remainder of the season, but we also need to find from somewhere, someone who will stand within 20 yards of him or else he's going to continue to look worse than he really is - which is all we have seen really.
No Place Like Home
Final word goes to the fans. A man down they stepped up and made the place feel like the extra man we were missing. A magnifcent effort which needs to be replicated next weekend against Southampton.