Stoke looked to continue their record breaking unbeaten run and duly extended it to 10 games after a well drilled performance against a club who may not exist this time next week. Pulis started with Whelan again, pitting him alongside Whitehead in arguably our favoured middle two, Tuncay came in on the left for the injured Etherington and Fuller and Sidibe continued up front.
The game wasn’t too bad and we were lucky not to go 1-0 down, ironically it was us who were favoured by the linesman on this occasion as Pompey had a perfectly good goal chalked off for offside when Wilko played Piquionne onside. The young right back had a torrid time again, this the third game in a row where he has been rightly targeted by the opposition, and it has to be said, were it not for Faye’s suspension, Wilko would be warming the bench watching Huth back on the right.
Manager Rating – 9 – Not much more Pulis could have done given injuries and suspensions, 3 strikers on the pitch from the start and Whelan was a surprise to most and I applaud the more evident trust he seems to have got from our great run. Sensible sub by bringing Diao on, he was as surprised as any of us though when he found out it was actually him that scored instead of Mama! He also cleverly ear marked Finnan as a weak link in their defence aerially, and as such a lot of our set pieces were sent out wide for Collins or similar to head back across goal.
Sorensen – 7.5 – Tommy didn’t have much to do but is still showing signs of being below par. It might be unfair to suggest he could have gotten up quicker from the initial parry, he seemed to take an age to find his feet, but that could equally have been down to the appalling state of the pitch.
Wilkinson – 4 – Sorry, another poor performance from Wilko, he hasn’t been the same since his whack to the head and was again targeted as the weak link and was given a torrid time by both Quincy and Dindane. His first booking was because he got in too close and turned (again) and his second which lead to the Red was perhaps a little unfortunate as it seemed to be six of one and half a dozen of the other in a tussle with Dindane.
Huth – 8.5 – Another good game from the big German who is looking better and better with each game he gets in the middle and next to Shawcross. A well taken and strong header to equalise capped off an impressive performance.
Shawcross – 8 – Seems to enjoy playing with Huth and also played well save for a couple of dicey moments, was good to see Ryan leading the team out, I hope the arrangement is formalised next season at least in a Vice Captain capacity as it will only aid his development further.
Collins – 7 – Not too bad a game from Collins, did better than I hoped but still struggled positionally, he really doesn’t have the discipline to play in a Stoke back line, certainly not at LB anyway.
Delap – 7.5 – Another good game from Rory, full of energy but clearly lacking in any pace whatsoever as he struggled when isolated out wide. Did all that was asked of him though and filled in as it was required, which is all he can do.
Whitehead – 8.5 – It’s nice to have Deano back in the middle and his partnership with Whelan looks to be a fruitful one, again having to fill in at Right Back for the second time in a week following a sending off – the boy just keeps on going.
Whelan – 9 – Man of the Match – I’m glad to see Glenn getting in on the action and he put in another impressive performance in the middle which will only help his cause for a prolonged run in the First XI. Got the ball down and used it sensibly, there are still one or two longer passes that go astray but it seems the more game time he gets the less we see these – well done Glenn!
Tuncay – 6 – Struggled out on the left on a difficult pitch, looked ok when he got the ball in forward positions but players seemed to run though him whenever he tried to tackle back, his challenges being somewhat, not half hearted, but soft? I think he will do well in a wide position more at home than away.
Sidibe – 7.5 – A solid performance from Mama, he won his fair share of flick-ons but he and Fuller struggled to get any momentum going really on a difficult day for the forwards.
Fuller – 8 – Another good game for Ric, though if the FA choose to investigate one of his more questionable challenges we may be without the talismanic Jamaican for a few games – I personally don’t think anything will come of it but common sense rarely prevails in such instances. He struggled on a poor pitch with the experienced Hreidarsson all over him but to be able to conserve the pace and show the skill he did in the last minute has to be commended.
Diao – 7 – Yes, he scored his first goal in 8 years but the number of fouls he gave away was alarming and all in dangerous areas too, he claimed his goal celebration was in response to getting a bit of stick from our own fans, thing is, he probably deserves it – I hope this doesn’t lead to more pitch time for the spent force from Senegal.
Kitson – 7.5 – Yes, I know he wasn’t on the pitch long at all but it was nice to see Dave back and in the 1.5 mins he was on he shielded the ball excellently, won a corner and got one of their players booked and for that impact alone deserves a mark. I wonder if we will start seeing more of him, his inclusion of late though more likely to be down to needs must as opposed to a change of attitude.