Despite the disappointing result, for large periods of today’s game Stoke were the better side. For the first half hour we were definitely no worse than Bolton, although our forward line seemed to lack a cutting edge and the defence survived a few shaky moments.
Â It was unfortunate to concede the first goal the way we did, from what was surely an attempted cross. However what happened in the ten minutes between that and half time was inexcusable. For both goals the Stoke marking was poor, you’d hope not to see Ryan Shawcross and Leon Cort losing in the air to the shorter Nolan. Thomas Sorensen also seemed indecisive as to whether to come and claim the cross for theÂ second goal, something whichÂ can force defenders into taking risks and losing their cool.
Â Â In the second half we were better, and it was nice to win the half, but I can’t help but feel Bolton could have pushed on harder if they’d wanted to. We put together the best move of the game for the goal, and it was good to see quality delivery from Dickinson and a good headed finish fromÂ Fuller. Ricci is a real confidence player, if he scores once, he may well bang in a couple more next time out, but if he goes a while without scoring hisÂ performanceÂ qualityÂ starts to dip, so it’s good for him and the side to get a goal in the first Premier league match.
Â Seyi Olofinjana, who startedÂ many of our best periods of possession,Â also looks a good buy, assured on the ball, yet strong and good in the air.Â
Â Once Lawrence and Fuller were brought on it was clear that we had the incisiveness we had lacked. It is a shame that the two have struggled to be fully fit for the game, and I hope they will fast return to peak form.
Â The problems in the team are clear though. Griffin is just not good enough for the Premier League any more, and is also too small and slow. Bolton had a lot of joy attacking down that side through their pacy wide players. Contrast that to Stoke’s lack of width. A new full back (Andrew Davies looks very likely to join from Southampton) a new winger are a must.
Â As for the new signings, Olofinjana impressed me, Kitson worked hard and tried to be creative but had little success and Sorensen could possibly have claimed a few more crosses that he left, once at our great cost but apart from that had a reasonably solid debut despite conceding three.
Â The sooner Abdoulaye Faye comes into the side the better and I hope the Davies signing is completed, as the defence looks very weak for a Premier league side, which is what we gladly now are. Investment is a must if we wish to remain that way.
THOMAS SORENSEN – 6
Â Thomas had a reasonably sound if not spectacular debut. He could possibly be held to blame for their second goal for not coming to claim the cross. He looked pretty decent at claiming crosses both high and low though and saved well from Matt Taylor in the second half. Disappointing for him to concede three though.
ANDY GRIFFIN – 5
Â Griff looks like the weakest link in a weak defence. He looked out of his depth at right back and lacked composure on the ball. he should be played at left back if he is to be played at all.
LEON CORT -5
Â Had an okay game, lost a few aerial challenges though and at times left their players unmarked for which we were punished. He should really have done better with the chance he had in the second half when he header over Lawrence’s cross.
RYAN SHAWCROSS – 5
Â Much the same as Cort. He didn’t pose as much of an attacking threat as I’d hoped.
ANDY WILKINSON – 5
Â He had a quiet game at left back, which wasn’t easy for a right footer. he didn’t get forward very well, something that Dickinson did better when he was brought on.
RORY DELAP – 6
Â We rely too much on Delap’s long throws, which just make our game too predictable and today did not work very well. Aside from that he did okay, making a few good challenges and getting forward quite well. He did better when he was switched to the centre, which is obviously his best position.
GLENN WHELAN – 6
Â Whelan did reasonably well, looking quite assured when he was on and delivering some good crosses. I don’t think he deserved to be substituted when he was but the attitute he showed when he was taken off, refusing to acknowledge Pulis and throwing down his training top, is not what you want to see.
SEYI OLOFINJANA – 7
Â Seyi had a good debut, looking very good on the ball and winning a lot in the air, he helped the defence out at times and also linked up well with the strikers. He started the move for our goal with some nice play in the centre.
RICHARD CRESSWELL – 5
Â A largely anonymous showing. He looked out of his depth, which can’t be helped by the fact that he’s a striker playing on the left wing.
MAMADY SIDIBE – 6
Â Mama did his job well in winning headers and holding the ball up but never looked like scoring or creating a goal, something a striker has to do.
DAVE KITSON – 6
Â Kitson looked alright, particularly in the second half when Fuller and Lawrence were on, linking up with his fellow attacking players well. He did though be a bit slow to get his shot away when he got himself into good positions, and seemed prone to taking a touch too many. I hop there’s more to see of him yet.
LIAM LAWRENCE – 7
Â Provided the much needed width, creativity and quality of delivery when he came on. We are simply better with him that without him.
RICARDO FULLER – 8
Â Caused the Bolton defence problems when he came on, running at men well and showing off his pace, bear in mind he’ still not fully fit. He took his goal very nicely too, his heading is not his strongest point and today’s goal was his 27th for Stoke, and only the second with his head.
CARL DICKINSON – 7
Did well when he came on, made a couple of good challenges and got forward quite well. He provided a very good cross for Fuller’s goal.
TEAM RATING 6.00
My man of the match: Seyi Olofinjana
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