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Paddy Powers Stoke City to Aston Villa Shock

Celebrations abound for the game winner.Picture from The Telegraph via Getty Images.

Maybe Tony Pulis was right.

Mamady Sidibe’s header gives Stoke City a shock 3-2 win at the Britannia Stadium.

If you heard me this week on The Third Half, I pretty much mocked the fact I pulled this game out of the hat to do as one of my two full match reviews. Next time I do that, I need to have the first rule of football tattooed across my first forehead…any side can win on the day.

Stoke City were everything you expected in a team that recently came up. They were scrappy, feisty and just about everything else in between. Above all, they were the most fortunate.

This game can’t be talked about unless we take a look at the two key decisions in the first half. Twenty seven minutes in, I was convinced Gabriel Agbonlahor should have been awarded a penalty. From my vantage point, Agbonlahor was simply pushed down. Despite the bodies in Mark Halsey’s has to be able to see it and call the penalty.

The other call comes just two minutes later. Rory Delap was the fortunate recipient of a little ping pong action in the penalty area. Martin Laursen stuck his leg out and was wise enough to at least pull it back. Delap though took full advantage and went over the leg, in the process being awarded a penalty. From the subsequent camera angles, I am still looking for the contact Laursen made with Delap and to me, it should be a yellow card for diving. However that wasn’t the case and Liam Lawrence gets his first goal in the top flight since his goal for Sunderland against Chelsea in 2006.

You knew Aston Villa was going to up the pressure in the second half and that they did. John Carew a key force in both Villa goals. The Villa equalizer thanks to Carew taking Ashley Young’s deft back heel and beating Sorensen one v one. The second thanks to Carew flicking onto Laursen off what was in honesty a poor free kick from Ashley Young.

However two performances for Aston Villa have to be called out to task, those of Martin Laursen and Gareth Barry. Laursen was a part of all three Stoke City goals and despite getting the second equalizer for Villa should have been subbed off immediately after getting it. I know he’s a key player at the back, but when you are having that poor of a day, you don’t need to be punishing the team based on how one is playing. Gareth Barry on the whole looked disinterested or fatigued from his England call up, I’m still trying to figure out which it is. However his touches were just that bad, a bad pass the catalysis for Stoke City pulling ahead 2-1. It was Barry’s missed sitter three minutes after pulling level at one though that told me how off his game he was.

However at the end of the day, it was Rory Delap’s long throwing ability that proved the ultimate difference. His long throw to Mamady Sidibe looked to be one that could be easily cleared. But both his markers mistimed their jumps and Sidibe was able to get the back of his neck to it (at least that’s what it looked like to me) and change the direction on it just enough to put it far post and in. An unlikely winner to what was on the whole an unlikely game.

When it’s all said and done, I think Aston Villa fell victim to taking their opponent too lightly. That is simply an attitude you can never have. Tony Pulis still has a few holes at the back to sort out, but I bet if you asked him before the season how many points he honestly thought would come out of this fixture, Pulis would have said zero and at best one. While I still see them still fighting for survival this season, Stoke City put on a performance that I don’t think anyone could have expected save maybe the diehard Stoke City supporters.

A Few Other Observations:
* Did it look to anyone else that Gabriel Agbonlahor was too tentative in his play today? If his groin was bothering him that much, should he have even started?

* I was surprised that Martin O’Neill only used one of his three available subs. It was obvious to me his side needed shaking up, epically at the back.

* Stoke City to me wasted their third sub in bringing on Richard Cresswell for Ricardo Fuller. With the way Villa were playing at the back, I think Fuller still had something to offer.

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  1. Beto

    August 27, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Jonathan is a loyal Chelsea fan and the first to one to call a spade- in regards to his team.

    You’ve got to miss those hilarious comments during the EPL game chats while the microphone was on…

    Hey- what happened to last weekend’s chat?

    OK- how will Gerrard’s injury affect England’s next two games?

  2. Johnathan Starling

    August 27, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    starling hater, if it will make your life to know who I support, it’s Chelsea. And before you go off on your horse about ‘eh just typical big four jibberish’, ask anyone who has followed this blog from day one too tell you who I’m harder on than anyone and if they have any sense that answer would be Chelsea.

    West Bromwich Albion deserve to be nailed right now as their attack could be the most inept in the Premier League right now (besides Arsenal’s which always seems to be the case).

    I’ve always liked a player who can take a long throw and be accurate with it as I think it’s more effective than any corner kick can be. When you are dealing with angles, being direct can be a team’s best friend with a long throw. Everytime Rory threw one into the penalty area last Saturday, at least a half chance came from it.

    In a way I do hope Stoke City stay up if only to make Paddy Power eat their words about paying out on relegation after week one…just like I’m still secretly hoping for a brokered Democratic National Convention and Hilary Clinton somehow taking the crown after Paddy Power started paying out on Obama winning the nomination back after the Iowa Caucus in January.

    I think we’ve taken this conversation about as far as we can on here. If you would like to continue this conversation, please do not hesitate to email me at

    All the best!

  3. starling hater

    August 27, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    So come on then starling who do you support ???? It doesnt say in your write up that but you might aswell of put it the thing that annoys me is we arn.t allowed to enjoy are season because every time we browse the internet or pick up a paper there is negative stuff about stoke and i dont know why wba havent won yet and they dont get ripped but stoke get hammered for the way we play im sure that if whoever you support had rory delap they would make use of his long throw why shouldnt we and as we saw on saturday it works so for once it would be nice to see some positives instead of negatives yes we probably will struggle but who cares if we can pick the odd win hear and there im sure we can ram paddy powers actions and a few journos actions right down there gobs .

  4. Johnathan Starling

    August 26, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    starling hater, again I ask a simple question…where do I say that Stoke City weren’t allowed to score against Aston Villa.

    And by the way, I am not an Aston Villa fan. You’re about the only one here with sour grapes.

    All the best!

  5. starling hater

    August 26, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    sorry i forgot that stoke wern.t allowed to score against villa what were they thinking at the end of the day we won fair and square. dont tell me your a villa fan says it all sour grapes i think enjoy the season because i for one will all the best starling hater.

  6. Johnathan Starling

    August 25, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    JLay, I’m surprised you forgot who I support. I know we haven’t talked in ages, but I’m a little shocked…okay not really.

    They don’t bug me, this is more amount to swating away flies than anything else. Their calling out tic for my calling back out tac…pity they don’t seem to have the answers when I start asking the questions.

  7. JLay

    August 25, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Please come back and visit us when Stoke are sitting 19th on 8 points in March…

    Just messing with you.

    People (journos and otherwise) assume that newly promoted teams will go back down because… uh, they almost always do.

    It’s not about teams outside of the top 4 (or even the top 10) not belonging in the Prem, it’s about being relevant. Stoke isn’t there yet. Sunderland are just starting to get there, aftermany upsets and a couple of years up. They get a great deal of positive press, here and elsewhere.

    I think that anyone, neutral or otherwise, would have to agree that this result was a huge surprise – and that’s exactly how it was presented. If Johnathan is a Villa fan (don’t recall whether he is), of course his view would be affected by that – but this is an opinion blog, not the BBC. Don’t get your bloomers in a bunch.

    I gush about United when I post here, and give other teams’ fans a hard time, but I also try to give an honest account of the games I watch. I think everyone here does too.

    If you’re a Stoke fan – enjoy it, ’cause this is what it’s all about! Congrats on the surprise result. Three points is, indeed, three points – and I’m sorry, but you’re probably going to need every one of them come the end of the season!

    Don’t let em bug you, Starling – keep calling them like you see them.

  8. Johnathan Starling

    August 25, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Starling Hater,

    I’m going to ask you a simple question…where do I say Stoke City have no right to be in the Premier League?

    If truth be told, I’ve probably watched the three promoted sides the closest in the first two weeks, and of the three, Hull City in my mind are the only ones that look like they have a prayer of staying up in the Premier League.

    Starling Hater, maybe you can beat JT to the punch and explain what was crap about this piece? If you want to mention not mentioning Fuller’s goal…sorry it wasn’t the game changing goal, the late game winner was.

    Now will I discuss Fuller’s goal on my show this week, yes I will.

    And yes northstokie, I’m still waiting for your reply. You guys sure as hell love it when you call us out but you sure as hell hate it more when we call you right back out. I anxiously await your replies.

  9. starling hater

    August 25, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    This is just the kind of tripe journalism that is killing the game if you aren,t man u chelsea or liverpool you have no right to be in the prem then you wonder why we have local kids walking around in chelsea tops who have never seen london.Give the smaller teams a chance or are you scared to jump off the top five band wagon .crap write up by the way and yes FULLERS GOAL WAS TOP DRAW so put that in your pipe and smoke it all the best from starling hater.

  10. StokeCity FC

    August 24, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Why is it just because we came up to the Prem are we automatically doomed? Just because other teams in the past are inept in showing the Prem we are here to stay does not mean we can’t! I honestly think we will beat most of the top half teams either home or away. It will be the lower teams which we will stuggle the most with apart from WBA!

  11. Johnathan Starling

    August 24, 2008 at 5:55 pm


    Please tell me where I make any reference to ‘unfashionable stoke’? I’m still looking for said reference?

    Yes Fuller’s goal was well taken. And if you actually read, I felt he should have played the ninety. He shouldn’t have been subbed off.

    Yes when it’s all said and done you got three points. However you’re treating this win like you’ve already guaranteed Premier League survival. A bit premature don’t you think?

  12. northstokie

    August 24, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Yet another hack playing the ‘unfashionable stoke’ card..

    It doesn’t bother us and the likes of your own biased reporting only fuels the spirit in the dressing room.

    The fact is a team is only plays as well as the other lets them and we were all over Villa, our passing was better, our movement off the ball was better and in Fuller we scored the goal of the day and most likely of the month – funny how you never described that one in any detail isn’t it?

    3 points – thank you very much

  13. eplnfl

    August 24, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Good to see your post here BC. While Stoke City played well and I must admit that at this point in time I have only watched a few minutes of the game, it appears to me Villa was taking this one a bit lightly and Stoke City wanted badly that first Prem victory.

    Well done to Stoke City and hope you win many more.

  14. Johnathan Starling

    August 24, 2008 at 9:11 am


    Diluted, hardly. Stoke City get their due in the piece and were worthy winners. Maybe it’s your axe to grind about me spending time talking about how bad Aston Villa were that you failed to see it.

    And please, tell me what you think is crap, because it sure as hell was the Aston Villa performance.

    Sorry, but I don’t take credence in winning one game after playing so horrifically the week before. When it’s all said and done they will probably be relegation fodder.

    This game in a way mirrored Hull City from last week. The promoted side had their fun at home in front of their supporters but are still going to have it all to do over the long haul.

    I agree with you Chris and I would also have to say with last week as well, Stoke City probably had the noisiest ground of all the games I watched yesterday.

  15. The Gaffer

    August 24, 2008 at 7:09 am

    It was a fantastic performance by Stoke City especially in defense. The team prevented Villa from playing their usual fluid style of play.

    Full marks should go to Stoke’s fans too who were vociferous and up for the match.

    By the reaction of the Stoke players after the full-time whistle blew, you’d have thought that City had won the FA Cup! Classic.

    The Gaffer

  16. JT

    August 24, 2008 at 12:12 am

    The questiong is: Is Johnathan Starling totally deluded? He has obviously got an axe to grind because how he read this game is so one-sided – and incorrect – that it is almost untrue. I'm actually a Yeovil fan who was visiting a friend, so I have no real passion either way in this tie, so would like to think I am slightly more objective than the writer here. Stoke played very well on the whole and deserve to be congratulated as such. Villa were beaten by the better team on the day. Some of the critisism I'd heard about Stoke's style of play also seem rather harsh too. Sure, some of their play is direct but no more than I tend to see from other teams on Sky or MOTD. They also played some rather neat one-touch passing in this game. I hope they do well and start to get the credit they deserve if they keep getting good results as this one definitely was against a team with top-five finish aspirations. So come on, Starling, start saying it like it is and not making up crap like you've dredged up in this review. Surely you must be better than that…?!?

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