A Level Playing Field?

By Dan Buxton
Last updated : 26 October 2010
Well I wouldn't say I'm exactly calming down after today's game against Manchester United but given the fact my deadline approaches I thought it best to throw a few words together!   It is fair to say that the Stoke support is once again absolutely fuming about yet another referee who has performed abjectly and was very unwilling to keep things even.   When we play the top four clubs it is hard enough to get near them without the likes of Andre Marriner giving them far more than the "benefit of the doubt." To say that Gary Neville's two cynical scythes on Matty Etherington combined to produce possibly the most obvious red card I've ever seen is massively under playing things.   I genuinely can't believe a single person in the ground (including the away fans and even Fergie himself) other than the woefully inadequate Marriner didn't think that Neville Neville's lad should have walked today. As the Stoke faithful duly pointed out to our "Premier" official; "He plays for Stoke, you send him off…"   How long must the supposed lesser lights in the top division suffer these wrong doings? How can the two most obvious yellow cards you'll ever see not end up with a red for the offender?   Stoke City have been battling hard for the previous two seasons to establish ourselves at the top table of football but it seems our successful negotiation of the trials and tribulations of the elite division mean little where being dealt a fair hand is concerned.   In today's match we fought gamely against our more illustrious opponents and had a really good go at Manchester United for decent spells. We played some nice football at times (not that it will be recognised by the media) and I'm sure most Stokies were well pleased with the lads endeavour.   After getting on level terms with a wonderful goal from Tuncay, we did lose our heads a little and started to creep further and further back against an Old Trafford outfit clearly desperate for the three points. The annoying thing is that after pegging them back with that bit of Turkish delight so late on, you have to wonder whether or not they'd have still pushed forward to try and win the game if they'd been correctly reduced to ten men?   Talking of our enigmatic Turk, it was great to see him get on the pitch and score a truly fantastic goal. It has been a source of constant bemusement to the majority of the Stoke crowd as to why Tuncay hasn't even been selected as a substitute for most games this season. One can only hope that whatever has gone on between him and TP can be resolved and we still could see the best of a player who clearly has the ability to help Stoke push on.   Today's game has certainly left a bitter taste in my mouth but the only medicine we as fans need is a good result at West Ham in the cup to take us to Goodison Park in a confident mood next week. Football can be very frustrating and the margins between getting a result and not are very fine indeed. We don't have the same resources as the more established clubs so the only thing we can hope for is a level playing field where the referees are concerned but as today illustrated, sadly that looks a long way off.

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