Match Report: Stoke 1 - 0 Boro
Boro potter to defeat
A trip to the Potteries and the bet365 Stadium this afternoon for Boro saw take on Michael O’Neill’s Stoke City. Like Boro, they have dragged themselves out of the sorry Relegation mire that they found themselves in last season and are now jostling with us (and ten others) for a place in the promised land or at least the top six.
The clash saw a surprise reunion with ex-Boro keeper Andy Lonergan who had joined the Potters on a short-term deal this week due to injuries to regular Keepers Adam Davies and Angus Gunn. Niki Maenpaa had previously been brought in to ease their goalkeeping crisis but ended up suffering a hand injury himself on the first day of training that required surgery. To compound matters, Nathan Broome, their youth keeper was undergoing shoulder surgery. As the last man standing, twenty year old Joe Bursik was likely to continue between the posts.
There were no fresh injury worries for Neil Warnock or at least certainly none of that magnitude with just Hall, Fletcher, Browne and Dijksteel all still missing. Perhaps most importantly the Ginger Messi came through his midweek exertions unharmed and was declared fit.
For Stoke their injury troubles didn’t end with Keepers, Joe Allen was still out with a long term injury stretching back months after rupturing an Achilles tendon but Ryan Shawcross was nearing a return after being on the bench for their midweek game. To add to Michael O’Neill’s woes another ex-Boro Player JOM was to miss the clash along with Stephen Fletcher and Jordan Thompson. Lee Gregory was also doubtful for this one.
The Team news saw one change for Stoke from midweek with James McClean coming in for Sam Vokes, who dropped to the bench. O’Neill was putting his faith in youth with 20-year-old Joe Bursik in goal along with Tyrese Campbell, 22-year-old Jacob Brown and 19-year-old Nathan Collins. The disappointing news for Boro fans was that Watmore was on the bench. Spence continued at RB in Dijksteel’s absence. Tavernier and Johnson were providing the width for Akpom up front. Saville returned to the team to beef up in the middle of the park in place of Watmore. Why we needed three defensive midfielders for this one was anybody’s guess especially given both Saville’s and Howson’s fatigue issues, let’s hope that didn’t become a factor in the game today.
Stoke kicked off in their traditional Red and White Stripes with Boro in their dark Navy away strip. An early free-kick for a Morsy challenge on Clucas gave the home side a chance to launch the ball into Bettinelli’s goalmouth. McLean’s kick was poor and cleared by the villain Morsy. In fairness, the Stoke captain Clucas looked to be very sore and struggling with his ankle after a nasty twist.
Johnson was then seemingly struck in the face off the pitch but only a throw was given from which Johson himself collected and invited Campbell into a foul. McNair sent the free kick in but McLean volleyed it clear of danger. Clucas meanwhile was sat disconsolately on the turf as O’Neil was forced into his first substitution with Josh Tymon coming on in only the eighth minute. There hadn’t been much football played due to the stoppages so we could expect a few added minutes at half time already.
A low cross from Spence was cleared by ex-Boro defender Danny Baht as Boro showed a little endeavour after a dour start on eleven minutes. With an instant reply, McLean crossed after eluding Tavernier but saw the ball land on Bettinelli’s net for a Boro goal kick. Thirteen minutes now gone and very little quality from either side but Boro were at least keeping their shape albeit dreadfully negative and lacking inspiration.
A cross into the Boro box saw Fry leave it for his Keeper who this time unlike midweek came out and claimed the ball with Brown closing in on fifteen minutes. That was a warning! Johnson then conceded a foul on Nick Powell. The Stoke free-kick was sent in from the right, laid back cleverly by McClean for Fox to swing in a cross to an unmarked Collins centrally to loop a simple header past Bettinelli. Bettinelli looked suspect in his decision making but in the build-up to the goal, Akpom had let the ball bounce instead of attacking it. Poor from Boro so far, one-nil down with twenty minutes gone.
Boro were struggling to clear their heads and in frustration Fry was booked for catching Brown giving away a free-kick. Substitute Tymon sent it into the Boro box and this time Akpom nearly put it into his own net with a bizarre direct header straight in the middle of his own goal, Bettinelli came to the rescue with a diving save and then a quick near post recovery, this was looking like a disaster waiting to happen. Maybe those rounds of Golf had created a false sense of entitlement and misplaced arrogant belief?
Approaching the half-hour mark now and Boro had been suspect defensively from the off. Apart from some occasional Spence and Johnson runs we hadn’t shown much of threat. Tav attempted to remedy that on thirty-one minutes but his touch was heavy, stumbling in the Stoke box as Bursik collected.
A quick launch upfield from Bursik meant Spence had to be fleet of foot to chase Brown, getting a challenge in and winning a goal kick in the process. Thirty-three minutes gone and apart from a looping header Bursik had had nothing to do so far. We were desperately crying out for some craft and creativity. So far Akpom hadn’t imposed himself in the game in the opposition half at all. Johnson and Tav linked up to create at times but our front line were not on the same wavelength.
Fry set Johnson through but Collins intercepted, as the ball came back in Bursik had to seriously work for the first time with Johnson ‘s ball inviting a Navy shirt to get a toe on it. In Boro’s best move a strike from Johnson just outside the box saw Bursik parry away the ball and then Saville following up hit the post.
Stoke were finding plenty of joy with McLean getting crosses in and Boro’s defending not helping themselves. Morsy had to come to the rescue with clearance with two minutes of the first forty-five to go. Nick Powell was sat on the turf looking dejected after a collision with McNair but after some magic sponge treatment, he managed to rejoin the game. McNair had to be strong to remedy a Bola back pass compounded by a very poor Bettinelli clearance. The word “Poor” is becoming overused so far but not without justification.
Surprisingly a cut-price, budget three minutes came up on the fourth Officials board which seemed at least four minutes light. The half ended pretty much the way it had begun with a distinctly average Stoke looking the more dangerous (but not by much) and Boro struggling to string passes together. Stoke were out-Warnocking Warnock by closing down and reading balls far better than those in Navy blue shirts. Bettinelli had looked nervy, Akpom was a non-event as an attacking threat with only a last minute ball from Bola finding him caught offside as he finally broke through on Bursik. Our midfield was pedestrian and there was no zip or pace in the side. In truth, it was a hard watch.
Warnock seriously needed to up the ante in the second half, the only saving grace was that the deficit so far was a single goal. Ref Jeremy Simpson and his shiny overused whistle got the second half underway but incredibly Warnock had made no changes. Boro started the opening few seconds looking a little more up-tempo with the emphasis on “little” but then a Johnson error nearly allowed Stoke to double their lead after only two minutes of the half. Optimism ended almost as quickly as it had begun. Boro were looking just as poor as they had in the first half. That old definition of repeating the same old things but expecting different results came to mind. Boro looked just as lethargic as the side that had meandered through the opening forty five minutes.
Stoke worked the ball into the Boro eighteen-yard box with a series of one-two interchanges ending with a finish as poor as a typical Boro one. Surely Warnock must have seen enough already, to make no Subs at halftime was foolhardy but since we kicked off if anything we looked even worse. Fortunately, Bettinelli made a great save with his feet to save Warnock and Jepson’s blushes as the pair dallied over their Substitution options with fifty-three minutes now elapsed.
Saville conceded a free kick for a foul on Cousins allowing Stoke another set-piece opportunity that was eventually headed clear by Spence but the ball still stuck with those red and white striped shirts and at this stage Boro looked punch drunk.
If the changes didn’t come quickly Boro were nailed on to be two or more down. Another Stoke free kick came into the Boro area that Morsy cleared and was adjudged to have been fouled in the process giving us some momentary respite with the game approaching sixty minutes. Why on earth had Warnock waited so long to remedy a glaring fault. It was concerning in that it’s the first time in his tenure that his logic and timing has been seriously questioned. Stoke were not a great side but we were rank bad and clueless with it.
Johnson had put a couple of crosses in but that was the extent of any Boro threat. Akpom had looked detached from his teammates but having said that there was little to no quality service to him. Finally, Watmore Britt and Roberts were all stripped and ready to come on.
Fifteen minutes of the second half had been totally wasted and much worse the lack of decision-making from the Manager had threatened to surrender the game beyond reach. Johnson, Akpom, and Morsy now all belatedly made way for the three Subs. Personally, I’d have left Johnson on and taken Tav off.
Watmore went right, Tavernier moved out left and Roberts just ahead of the midfield with Britt in front. Thirty minutes remained for some desperately needed spark from Boro. Roberts almost immediately sent a ball through for Britt from the halfway line but it had just too much pace on it but at least it was some grounds for optimism. Danny Baht now took the fashionable Stoke sitting position, apparently injured and eventually making way for Ryan Shawcross to come on.
Yet another free-kick was awarded to Stoke which was cleared with Spence breaking, barged off the ball by Campbell who earned a yellow for throwing the ball away. Saville sent the kick in but nothing came of it and as a consequence, Boro were fortunate that Stoke didn’t break away. Saville then earned a yellow for a challenge on Powell which looked hard but unintentional but Jeremy Simpson was just loving his new whistle.
As Powell made the most of his time in the Stoke injured spotlight Howsosn hit an air kick on the edge of his own box and Campbell had a great chance that deflected of either Fry or McNair but Bettinelli reacted quickly getting down to save Jonny’s blushes. A quick counter-attack saw Tav nearly force a Stoke own goal. Powell then went off formally for Oakley-Boothe to come on in his place. Since the substitutions, Boro still didn’t look any more likely to get anything from the game. This entire Boro side looked lack lustre, below par, needing a really special moment from an individual. As a spectacle, really poor fayre and a tough watch.
A Bola ball into the box saw Tav just not being able to connect as Boro finally exerted a little bit of pressure with twelve minutes remaining. Howson was then on the receiving end of a Brown challenge after McNair played him a little short. Campbell then had a half-chance but the ball was hit wide from outside the box.
Ten minutes of the ninety now remained and still, Boro struggled to get into gear. A free-kick for a foul on Roberts saw McNair send the ball in to the back post to Fry then via a Spence header down to Howson whose swivel shot was blocked and then Fry’s follow up effort hit Chester’s arm but the whistle had gone for an offside with Britt looking the culprit.
McLean did well to clear the ball out from a teasing far post Bola cross to concede a Boro corner. Tav sent it in but it was a terrible delivery which summed up the abject lack of quality from Boro in stark contrast to the performance that we saw on Wednesday night. Stoke had now started to hang on to what they had with Boro forced to take some risks with just five of the ninety minutes remaining.
We were passing the ball around but the possession was passive and the passing slow and predictable. In the last minute of the ninety Wing and Folarin came on for Tav and Saville to exit in a double Sub. Seven added minutes came up on the fourth Officials board. Stoke immediately broke but Fry was on hand to avoid the catastrophic second killer goal.
A throw-in saw Fry put Wing through only to be manhandled twenty-five yards out. Perfect territory for Lewis Wing himself but Captain Britt took charge and sent it straight into the wall (my expletives were loudly sprayed all over my keyboard as the blindingly predictable occurred once more). If the manager puts on a Player in the ninety-first minute whose specialty is exactly that type of free-kick and from that type of distance what on earth was the supposed Captain thinking. It absolutely beggared belief!
Seconds later Wing caught a half-chance from a Robert's head back but leaning back, sent the ball well wide with only three of the added minutes remaining. Bola was then booked for a mystery foul on Oakley-Boothe after venting his frustration at the whistle happy Ref. Folarin put in a late cross but it sailed over the bar summing up Boro’s afternoon.
It ended one-nil and Boro could have saved themselves a lot of time and effort by simply not bothering to travel down to the Potteries. Effectively they hadn’t turned up in any case. Tactically we surrendered those points before even a ball was kicked. We offered absolutely nothing against an injury riddled opposition side littered with kids.
Poor team selection psychologically gave out the wrong message from the off. NW was apoplectic with Jeremy “the whistle” Simpson at the end. Yes, his officiating was infuriating and spoiled what spectacle of a game that it may have been but the blame for our abject showing lay squarely on the Manager’s shoulders. Once again in recent weeks, too many Players had simply underwhelmed.
My MOM was Bola who was steady throughout but he was by no means a standout. Johnson was a threat before he came off in that he did actually attack and put some crosses in. Both their performances normally would maybe earn a five or a six out of ten at best but it's indicative of just how bad this afternoon was from the rest of them. If Warnock is missing booing he came very close this afternoon to getting a virtual chorus.
Agree RR. My impressions on the previous thread are identical to yours.
Thanks RR for the report appreciated as always but very disappointed in the performance and result
Many thanks for your report of a game that sounded like a game of torture. So much for handling a cold day in Stoke but I suppose that at least it wasn't a Wednesday evening. Was it a bad day at the office, weary bodies or the 'Manager of the Month' Curse. Whichever it was it sounded like real rubbish.
Now, dare I look at the highlights? Maybe Sky will provide a blank screen to relieve the pain.
Stay safe everyone,
Thanks RR for a detailed report on a dismal and disappointing performance all around. 😎
Thanks to Redcar Red for his accurate assessment of not only the worst display of the season, but a reminder of how bad Boro were in the days under Malcolm Allison’s tenure. I’m beginning to ask myself which is the typical Boro, last Wednesday’s or yesterday’s! I had this feeling that we would lose this match after watching Neil Warnock’s flippant pre-match press interview. Usually his interviews are great, but this one seemed to me as if he knew beforehand that this was a match Boro would lose, so threw in the towel and let his players have a day off and play golf or do what they want instead of train. Then his post match comments stating that Boro were the better team was absolute bilge. One cannot defend the indefensible and as the Gazette reported Stoke did a Warnock on the Boro. It’s fine giving a team confidence, but to make them actually think they are better than they are after a decent performance against Swansea who probably had their worst performance of the season against Boro anyway, can instil arrogance. There’s a fine line between being confident and over-confident.
The next few matches will determine which way Boro’s season will unfold. Preston’s away form has been exceptional but their home form abysmal, rather like Boro’s towards the end of last season. However they must be due a home win soon, so will probably relish facing Boro on Wednesday. Millwall are draw specialists having drawn half their matches so far, and have a good record on Teesside in recent years. Boro are now 7 points behind Norwich, but only 7 points ahead of 19th placed Coventry but fortunately 13 points ahead of Derby so shouldn’t be worried about relegation. However Boro often slump in the New Year, so I’d suggest that the sooner Boro get 52 points the better than concern themselves with obtaining 70+ points and a playoff place against teams who are better than Boro anyway. Heaven forbid that by some fluke Boro actually get promoted this season, they’ll probably be relegated with one of the lowest number of points ever recorded in the Premier League.
This might sound like defeatist talk, but it’s much too early to think about promotion. A possible playoff place next season or the following one, and promotion the year after that is a possibility, but I wouldn’t want Boro to be an embarrassment in the Premier League although it’s unlikely I’d be around to witness it anyway. If given Boro’s current position now at the season’s end I’d welcome that, but suspect it’s more likely to be 12th/14th. The future might be bright but all this talk of promotion this season fills me with dread of what might happen in the Premier League.
@ken I dont think there is much chance of us being in the premier league next season, I know this league is totally unpredictable but I expect Norwich, Bournmouth & one other, but not us. Our strike force is poor and has been for years. I think we are a being typical football fans getting carried away after a few good results, not surprising really given what we put up with last season.
An awful match. Both teams were terrible so it should have been 0- 0 yesterday. Surely, Akbom should have been able to head a ball more than two yards away inside our box before we conceded. And earlier he nearly headed an own goal but Bettenelli made a great save.
Ok, Britt was not much better when he came on, but still I think we should start with Britt. His record at Boro is as good as Slaven's was.
I would prefer to play two strikers up front but perhaps we need to wait before Flecher is back. After January, I would like to see a front three of Fletcher, Assombalonga and Watmore.
Up the Boro!
Bernie Slaven’s goalscoring record with Boro was 118 in 307 matches (35%) whilst Assombalonga’s is 31.6% and dropping. Considering Britt is reported to have cost £15m and Bernie’s transfer fee was a paltry £25,000 in 1985, and allowing for inflation I know which striker I’d prefer.
Very sad to hear of the death of raconteur and BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss at the age of 89. He maybe was outspoken at times, but also had the charm and wit of the late Terry Wogan. Known as ‘the voice of golf’ and a legend in the BBC’s coverage of golf for over 50 years he was to golf what David Lloyd is to cricket with his humour, and although live golf is rarely shown on the BBC today some of his witticisms will be sorely missed. My condolences go out to his family and friends and may he rest in peace.
Serious question, when was Britt last a candidate for MOM? How many games has he provided a stand out performance during his time here?
I can recall lots of horrible penalties and mountains of horror misses but I'm really struggling to recall a game where he stole the show. I'm sure there will be one or two games but therein lies the problem, one or two if that.
Putting his price tag aside, whether he cost £15M or £25K his performances are inept. Based purely on recent performances he shouldn't be anywhere near the team or even the bench come to that.
What year it was when a Boro stricker was the MoM? 🤣
Perhaps Scott McDonald after scoring a hat trick ...
Up the Boro!
I know few Boro fans like Leeds (neither do Cas fans for that matter) but to see Kevin Sinfield ex Leeds Rhinos stand off half raise £1,000,000 for Motor Neurone Disease after 6 marathon runs in 6 days with one more marathon to come around the City of Leeds, to be met by his ex scrum half partner Rob Burrow (who like Boro’s own Willie Maddren suffered from this awful disease) and Rob,s family and greeted with a hug was such an emotional occasion. If any deserves a knighthood in the New Years Honours List it’s Kev. As for Rob it makes me reflect how lucky I’ve been to just have prostate cancer and a tortuous colon to contend with.
Arise, Sir Kev!
A bit of positive news as NW is seemingly intent on making sure young Players at the Club (and the Golden Oldies like Howson) are here for a while or at least won't walk for free.
Who’s never done this, usually it’s headed over the line, hardly worth a booking.....
Will I never learn? I probably went overboard in my praise for Boro’s team ethic and resilient midfield after the Swansea game. I should have known my comments would come back to haunt me. We can only hope for a better performance and result on Wednesday.
@clive-hurren I hope NW has stopped the relaxed "trusting" approach and fired a few Rockets up a few Jacksies and exchanged a few home truths with a fair few of them.
I expect to see a response and one that doesn't depend on whether the toilets are blocked up or a generator is running outside a pee laden, sopping wet floor. Most blokes would have been angry and fired up about that, determined to get revenge. I've witnessed more competitive aggression and determination at a Brownie Jamboree than I did on Saturday.
I expect to see the Preston Keeper leaving the pitch on Wednesday night with an orthopedic aid to ease his bad back from picking the ball out of his net. More chance however of him leaving the pitch with a fresh coat of nail varnish the way our Strikers are playing.
Oh no not again! I posted an article on Rachmaninoff and it was complete at 11.35 pm so I then searched this part of the forum to check on Boro blogs, but now find my Rachmaninoff article has disappeared with a message of ‘0 Revisions’. Looks as if this is the problem as there must be a maximum of only 3 revisions allowed so I’m guessing this post will be lost as the ‘Save Draft’ option had disappeared.
So it is Preston next tomorrow.
What does the "PP" stand for in their badge?
And North End is more exciting than United or City etc. I know they are one of the founder members of the League.
Up the Boro!
Sorry Ken I've got nothing in my databases. I did a few tests on the save draft just to check what happens - when you click on save draft it adds an entry to the 'Post Revision' data table in the Diasboro database. As you mentioned, you are currently allowed to save up to three drafts - plus there is an automatic save every minute.
However, when you click on the 'Save' button to post your comment, these drafts are then removed from the 'Post Revision' data table - otherwise this table would ultimately contain three times as many entries as there were actual posts on Diasboro, which would soon take up lots of server space.
If you for any reason leave the Diasboro page before posting then these entries in the 'Post Revision' table remain - which is why I've previously found a lost post of yours. As to why your post disappeared after you had posted it I cannot determine - it could have caused either at your end or the Diasboro server end or indeed at some other point.
I would still recommend that you and anyone else writing a substantial post should do so in a third-party word processor (such as I mentioned last time) and then copy and paste the text when you have finished - you will then always still have all your text should anything go wrong for any reason. Indeed, I often when making a largish post first copy the text to the clipboard before clicking post (save) just in case. You can also try clicking on the back button of your browser if you lose something during posting as that also can retrieve the page with the unposted text in the reply text box.
Thanks to the internet, which contrary to popular belief is not there primarily to source conspiracy theories for the increasing number of gullible people with no concept of either science or common sense, I have solved the PP mystery...
The lamb on the logo of Preston's badge is the ‘Lamb of Saint Wilfrith, the former archbishop of Kent. Even though the distance between Preston and Kent is 264 miles, Saint Wilfrith has still been the patron of the city in central Lancashire since the seventh century. The letters PP are short for the Latin term ‘Princeps Pacis’ (meaning: Prince of Peace), a title of Jesus Christ.
btw I'm really busy at the moment with some pre-christmas decorating projects so if anyone wants to start a pre-match thread feel free as I'm probably unable to write more than a few paragraphs.
Nowadays, the PP has been used to mean Proud Preston. I live very near to England’s wettest city and seem to have to share its levels of rainfall.
There’s an expression locally: “once every Preston Guild” meaning something that happens very rarely (a bit like a goal from our club captain) - it’s based on an event held in the city every twenty years. More info here:
Thanks, Werder and Martin. I know that a canoe is more handy in that part of Lancashire than a car. Been there once when the Blackburn vs. Boro was called off having travelled all the way from here, Finland as I told recently.
Apparently North End just meant that they moved their home from the Ashton area to the Norhern End of Preston just before moving on to the Deepdale Farm. All the changes of places happened in 19th centenary already.
Let's hope the lion will be stronger than the lamb. We used to have Lamb, too but he was never very clever with fax machines apparently.
Up the Boro!
You think you have some sort of handle on football (in general) then someone like you shatters those illusions. I would happily bore some innocent victim for hours about Bernie Slaven, him being about goals, anticipation, speed , (of thought and action), the man to score when it was really needed, and not afraid to score a few. Oh! And let's not forget, for many seasons. Then you produce statistics which show that they were about the same players, on stats at least, hhhhm! One of them was great, the other was rubbish, there will shortly be a vote on which was which, wonder how that will pan out?
It’s a shame I haven’t got statistics of how many misses each player made. I’m guessing that would prove your point.