Tuncay’s winner five minutes from time is all the difference as Middlesbrough win at the Riverside 2-1.
First off it must be said that Middlesbrough were pushed to the limit. Despite being a man down for seventy minutes (if you add both first and second half stoppage time), Stoke City were resolute at the back, but two breakdowns proved to be all the difference in this one.
For the first thirty-five minutes, this was a very balanced game with both sides getting up the field. However with the two footed lunging challenge of Amdy Faye, the game completely changed. I agree with the red card entirely. Shawky was trying to collect a poorly weighted pass and was trying to collect the ball. Amdy Faye raced in trying to take the ball, but what he ended up doing was lunging in two footed with studs up right into the lower legs of Shawky. Yea he got the ball, but only after taking Shawky out of the play. Amdy Faye knew he was in trouble and Afonso Alves’s free kick promptly made it 1-0 with a free kick that was simply perfectly taken. Stoke City set the wall perfectly, Sorensen was correctly on his line, but with the bend and curve of Alves’s free kick, no keeper was going to stop it.
Despite being at a severe disadvantage in the second half, Stoke City was resolute at the back though it wasn’t easy. Even with Ricardo Fuller up front, he didn’t get too many opportunities to create. Even when Stoke was able to push forward, most of the time it was Liam Lawrence, Ricardo Fuller, and from time to time Dave Kitson.
Stewart Downing had the perfect opportunity to put this game away in the sixty-forth minute. Carl Dickinson knew he was beaten by Afonso Alves and just gave him a shove. It’s an inexcusable foul to concede. Downing though from the spot though was poor. Sorensen guessed incorrectly, but Downing put too much power into his shot, and saw the crossbar for his trouble.
For all the defending Stoke City did, and the numerous missed chances Middlesbrough had, it was almost inevitable Stoke City was going to equalize. Liam Lawrence put in good crosses all day, and Middlesbrough’s fatal error was giving him any space. Boro’s failure to close Lawrence down gave him the opportunity to find Dave Kitson on the far post. Justin Hoyte marked him well, and you could even argue even too well. Lawrence’s cross in was pin point accurate and Hoyte was unable to clear. Instead his attempt to chest the ball down failed as he lost his balance and using the arm, put the ball in his own net.
The final ten minutes though Stoke City looked fatigued, and it proved the difference in the end. Stewart Downing made up for his penalty miss by setting up the game winning sequence. Taylor’s pass to Downing on the wing was weighted well and Downing did well to cross into an area where the clearance wouldn’t be easily cleared. Didier Digard did well to collect, and found Tuncay who was kept on by Andy Wilkinson. Tuncay one v one with any keeper is going to always end badly, even when the far post is exposed.
Middlesbrough made hard work of this game and you could even argue they were extremely fortunate to get out with a win. However when it’s said and done, they did what was required when a man up to get the three points. Stoke City are showing they are no pushovers and will make most match days interesting. Rory Delap didn’t have many chances with the long throws, but after a couple of shaky ones early on, made things interesting. As long as Liam Lawrence has target men up front, he will get balls into the mixer. They were unlucky in the end, but when you have to defend a man down for any length of time, most times it will result in zero points.
A few other observations:
1) How stupid was Andy Griffin for picking up a yellow card by trying to be cheeky before a throw in?
2) Did Jeremie Aliadiere look off his game today?
3) Middlesbrough look a little light in numbers whenever Stoke City pushed forward. Had they defended properly, I don’t think Stoke City gets the equalizer.