Stoke City 2 Blackpool 0

Last updated : 01 January 2002 By Rob Stanway

A very cold day at the Britannia Stadium, as everywhere else but our undersoil heating helped to keep the game on, with grit all over the roads and paths around the stadium.

Stoke were playing marvelous football though did allow Blackpool to attack for small periods before regaining control. Stoke's defence was just too strong for the Blackpool attack who have recently lost Ormerod (The guy who caused us all the problems when we played them away) to Southampton.

The Pace of Goodfellow added new qualitys to Stoke's game. Play was must faster and he created alot. Clive Clarke was fantastic down the left, combining with Goodfellow but also making chances by taking on players himself and bringing the ball all the way ready to cross.

Gudjonson had a good game, which he hasn't been recently, also all strikers did well and Thomas was much better in the Centre of defence than on the right. Henry had good and bad parts. The bad parts were because of inexperience which he will get better on in time.

CUTLER 8/10 Good Saves kept us in the game
HENRY 7/10 Getting Better With Experience
THOMAS 7/10 Better Game today Thommo
SHTANIUK 8/10 The Usual Best from you Stan!
CLARKE 9/10 Fantastic, Man Of the Match Display MOTM
GUDJONSON 8/10 Good game for you today Bjarni
O'CONNOR 9/10 Fantastic, Worked hard, Well taken goal
VANDOERZEN 8/10 A good game today
GOODFELLOW 9/10 You caused havoc in the Blackpool defence
IWELUMO 7/10 Another game well played
COOKE 7/10 Good Running
DADASON 6/10 Didn't really touch the ball
ROWSON 6/10 Also didn't really touch the ball, a good slide tackle at the end

-------------SPORTS.COM MATCH REPORT-------------
With all but two Nationwide Division Two games called off because of the weather, Stoke took advantage of their undersoil heating by beating Blackpool to move to the top of the table.

Belarus international Sergei Shtanyuk set them on their way to three points when he headed home a 13th minute opener.

Although well on top for most of the game the Potters were forced to wait until the 82nd minute before James O'Connor made sure of the points with their second goal.

The Potters started slowly but Blackpool skipper Ian Marshall needed to be on his toes after nine minutes to keep out the threat of Stoke striker Andrew Cooke.

But four minutes later Stoke were a goal up when skipper Shtanyuk rose unchallenged to head Bjarni Gudjonsson's left-wing corner into the net.

The visitors were finding the pace of Marc Goodfellow difficult to deal with and the youngster almost burst through for a second goal but lost control just outside the box.

Stoke were now playing football fitting of their league position but they were coming unstuck in and around the Blackpool 18-yard box.

And when Gudjonsson sent a deep cross behind the visiting defence on the half-hour Chris Iwelumo was denied a certain goal at point-blank range when Phil Barnes dived bravely at his feet.

Blackpool threatened to get back into the game winning a series of free kicks shortly before the interval but they found the Stoke backline too strong.

Then on the stroke of half-time Gudjonsson came agonisingly close to adding City's second when he stretched to meet Cooke's low cross but could not quite get enough on the ball.

The second half started very much where the first half left off with the home side doing most of the attacking.

But Blackpool, who had come back from 2-0 down three days earlier against Brighton, gave Stoke a reminder not to drop their guard when Martin Bullock flashed a shot wide of Neil Cutler's upright.

Again Stoke attacked. Iwelumo missed a chance when stretching to reach yet another right-wing cross from Gudjonsson and two minutes later the Icelandic winger was himself guilty of poor finishing.

Cutting inside from the right he sidestepped two defenders but his shot from just outside the box flew well wide.

Although well on top City looked slightly edgy on the rare occasion the Seasiders pushed forward. And they looked in need of a second goal to steady their nerves.

Stoke survived a mad scramble as Blackpool surged on to the attack eight minutes from time but they then managed to break and score themselves.

Goodfellow ran the length of the pitch before pulling the ball back for Gudjonsson and his cross was headed home from eight yards out by O'Connor.

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