Feature by Dan Buxton
Updated Monday, 14th February 2011
Rich James looks forward to a ruck of home games for the Potters
After another disappointing defeat on our travels this weekend we now find ourselves on a run of four home games out of the next six and that has to be good news to our travel-weary fans and players alike.
It has been tough viewing in our away fixtures since the turn of the year (as well as being bloody expensive) so a few games at the Brit should hopefully bring us some well-deserved cheer.
Next Saturday’s cup game against Brighton will not be easy. The Seagull’s are having a superb season under Gus Poyet and look a good bet to be playing in the Championship come August. While we will of course show our opponents the utmost respect, it has to be said that a home draw against lower league opposition should be a game we are looking to win and reach the quarter-finals for the second season on the bounce.
I certainly think our continued presence in the cup could revitalise our league form and give us that bit of zip that has been missing of late. We did superbly well to get to 30 points as quickly as we did but it looks like it has almost knocked some of the fight out of us. I wouldn't say we have become complacent but with points in the bag it appears the mind-set is to start to get the draws that our season has so far missed and that can be a risky strategy.
This apparent quest for draws was evident at St. Andrews on Saturday. Nobody in the ground could have said that we were not worthy of at least a draw but there was an air of disappointment (even before that last minute heart-breaker) that we didn’t build on our very solid first half showing. The game was crying out for a player to stretch the Blues’ back-line and in Ricardo Fuller we had the player to do it. Only TP knows why we didn’t bring Ric on earlier but instead we gave him a paltry nine minutes to win the game.
It would be unfair to go overboard about this latest away defeat as there were some very decent individual displays from quite a few of our lads. The major issue for me is the lack of clear cut openings we are making and the difficulty we have in taking the ones we do get. To look at the stats after the game it looks like we pummelled Ben Foster’s goal but in truth he was rarely tested at all.
Another aspect the game highlighted was a worrying lack of strength in depth as we went into the fixture without Wilko, Higgy and Ethers. To be fair to the lads who came in, they all did pretty well but despite the efforts of Jon Walters, he is not in the same league as Matty Etherington and we certainly missed his direct and pacey runs. In my more greedy transfer window moments I was hopeful we might have managed to get a player who could cover both flanks as we definitely don’t look the same threat without one of our “wing twins."
Hopefully we will have a full complement in readiness for this week’s 5th round tie against our guests from East Sussex and we will show some real intent. It is a big game for the Potters and one the fans will be looking for a positive outcome from.
Our primary aim is still survival but with that only being a couple or so home wins away, the F.A. Cup could well provide us with some real excitement for the latter stages of the season.