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The Season In Pictures

  As this season’s come to an end, I’ve put together a compilation of all the best Stoke City pictures, hopefully capturing the highs and lows along the way, and the overall essence of what has been a very successful 2008/09.

 


The Stoke fans descend upon Bolton for our first ever Premier League match


Forty-five minutes and three Bolton goals later we feared the worst


At least Ricardo Fuller added a little credibility to the scoreline with our first top flight goal in 23 years


Emotions changed from despair to delight as Fuller sublimely put us ahead against Aston Villa a week later


After Villa had equalised, Mamady Sidibe’s last minute winner sealed a priceless first victory


Rory-mania reached fever pitch after the next home game, a 3-2 loss to Everton


At which point we still had high hopes for Dave Kitson

Football - Liverpool v Stoke City Barclays Premier League
A hard fought draw at Liverpool in mid-September announced our aspirations to compete with the big boys…but we remained in the bottom three

 
The contrasting faces of the fans tell the story


About this time a new Stoke hero came to prominence


Our second win, against Tottenham, finally arrived in mid-October


With Thomas Sorensen’s blood and guts performance epitomising our season


A heavy defeat at Manchester City summed up our travel-sickness


But a home win over Sunderland put us back on the right track


It was Delap’s turn to shine again as we out-thought and out-fought Arsenal


Fuller nodded the first of our two goals from the Delap throw, while Kolo Toure forgot that you can’t be offside from a throw in


Robin Van Persie then saw red for losing his temper with Sorensen, capping the perfect day for Stoke


Arsene Wenger, the definition of a bad loser, pathetically accused Stoke of deliberately injuring his players
after the game


We saw off Rotherham to continue our League Cup run


We were thumped by the enemy

But at least we managed to wind up Cristiano Ronaldo


A vital win over West Brom was our fifth in a row at home

But our dreams of Carling Cup glory were dashed by Rob Styles and Derby

2-0 down at Newcastle we feared the worst

But a second half comeback was gloriously sealed when Abdoulaye slammed home in injury time

Football - Stoke City v Manchester United Barclays Premier League
Christmas defeats to Blackburn and Manchester United saw us slide right back into trouble


Disaster then struck at West Ham, Fuller being dismissed after striking teammate Andy Griffin in the face

This without doubt the darkest day of our season


It got worse before it got better as we were horrifyingly dumped out of the FA Cup at the hands of Hartlepool


Things looked up as we gained our first point of 2009 a week later, with another draw against Liverpool

Perhaps the defining moment of our season, James Beattie signed in mid-January

The next weekend we astonishly led at Chelsea until the 87th minute

Only to lose the game 2-1

After the devastating loss at Chelsea, and the one that followed at Tottenham, we could have caved in at home to Manchester City, especially after Delap was sent off in the first half

Instead we kicked on, Beattie scoring a superb header to win the game

And announcing himself as a Stoke player

We were still deep in trouble though, as despite Danny Pugh’s excellent save, we lost at Sunderland

Our luck seemed to change as February became March at Villa Park

Our spirits soared and we all roared when in the last minute…Whelan scored

Thomas Sorensen, Stoke City goalkeeper takes a goalkick as the snow starts to fall at the Britannia Stadium
Four days later we put paid to Bolton at a snowy Britannia Stadium and survival suddenly looked on the cards

And with a win over Middlesbrough two weeks later we were a mid-table side

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We had to wait until April for it, but our first Premier League away win followed the next Saturday at West Brom, as we hit our best form of the season at just the right time

West Bromwich Albion's goalkeeper Scott Carson rues a missed chance for his team
Scott Carson rued his decision to move to the Baggies

A Stoke City fan in fancy dress, in the stands prior to kick off.
This Stoke fan was sadly wrong though as we conceded late to squander two points against Championship bound Newcastle

Liam Lawrence’s goal gave us the win against struggling Blackburn the next week though

Stoke City's goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen (back) and team mate Abdoulaye Faye celebrate their sides win
Abdoulaye and Sorensen knew survival was close

John Pantsil and Stoke's Danny Pugh duel in the sun at Craven Cottage
We could have secured safety at Fulham, but a 1-0 loss added to the nerves

Stoke City's Liam Lawrence (left) reacts after being booked for unsporting behaviour
Before a frustrating home defeat to West Ham, our first of 2009, saw us stutter again

We needn’t have worried though, as Lawrence’s sublime goal helped us to a win at Hull and gloriously confirmed our Premier League status for next year

The Stoke fans were understandably overjoyed

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Abdoulaye and Lawrence showed what survival means to them

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis gestures on the touchline
While Tony Pulis pointed to the future

Hull City manager Phil Brown holds his head in his hands after a missed chance
Defeat was painful for Phil Brown, making Stoke’s achievement all the sweeter

Stoke City's James Beattie celebrates scoring his sides second goal
We finished a fantastic home season in style, seeing off Wigan 2-0, Lawrence and Beattie demonstrating how well they’ve got to know one another

Stoke City fans in the stands
The Britannia Stadium was bouncing for the lap of honour after the final whistle

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Heavy defeat on the final day at Arsenal did little to dampen Stoke spirits, and we could celebrate a successful 2008/09. and look forward to an even better 2009/10

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