Well all pantomimes need a comedy villain. This weekend’s game against Newcastle United certainly gave Joey Barton the perfect opportunity to show any talent scouts just what he could offer the theatre when he hangs up his boots. That said the manner in which he fell to the ground on a couple of occasions and the lovely gesture he gave to the Boothen End late in the game suggested Widow Twankey may be more his thing.
As for the game itself, Stoke came out determined to show the Potter’s faithful that their minds are still “on the job” and not dreaming of Wembley just yet. A fairly even first half burst into life after the Newcastle defence failed to clear a Rory rocket effectively. The ball was played forward to Ryan who had stayed up front; he in turn found JP and our busy winger sent over a peach of a cross for the very impressive Jon Walters to head home.
In truth it had been a half devoid of much quality or efforts on goal from both teams and it certainly didn’t prepare anyone for the action that was to immediately follow the interval. Some suicidal goalkeeping and defending from Harper and the hapless Sol Campbell allowed Jermaine Pennant to tuck home a routine chance to gleefully open his account for the red and whites.
Shortly afterwards KJ was dumped to the ground by a combination of three Newcastle players (one of which being Tiote who was fortunate to complete the 90 minutes.) The clumsy foul gave Danny Higginbotham the chance to put his foot through the ball from 20 yards – and he certainly did just that with Harper rooted to the spot. It was a great strike from Danny and it really is brilliant to see him back in our defence.
If I’m honest at 3-0 we looked like a team who weren’t accustomed to being in such a position as we didn’t seem to know whether to stick or twist. Subsequently our visitors enjoyed their best spell of the game, forcing Asmir into a couple of smart saves.
Late on in the game TP gave Ricardo the chance to come on for Kenwyne Jones (who had probably looked livelier than he had done for a while) and it didn’t take long for the magic man to have an impact. After his little (and highly amusing) tête à tête with the very deserving Mr. Barton, Ric went on to put the cherry on the cake for the Stokies in attendance. A long kick from Begovic was flicked on by the ever willing Walters and our Jamaican talisman finished with great aplomb.
I’m sure the final whistle was a lovely sound for Joey Barton who had a miserable afternoon that in truth, his infantile display probably merited. As a supporter it is your job to not only back your team but also unsettle the opposition and that is something us Stokies can do very proficiently. We don’t do it to everyone but we tend to single out those individuals that we know not only deserve it but will be affected by it as well.
We now have to suffer a two week break just at a time when we seem to be turning the corner. Chelsea will be our next guests at the Brit and they will of course provide a huge test. Along with Fergie’s lot the Stamford Bridge outfit have probably been the team that we have struggled to make any impact on since our return to the top flight. After two straight wins our confidence will be high and hopefully we will give a good account of ourselves.
Clearly the Boothen End will have a different target to try and ruffle the feathers of in a fortnight’s time and I imagine if Joey Barton thought he received a bit of stick it will be tame indeed to what the newly re-appointed England captain might be expecting to get given our F.A. Cup game last season.
Here’s hoping Mr. Terry will be politely being asked what the score is by the massed ranks of Potters fans!