RAMBLE: Stoke City 2-0 Wednesday

RAMBLE: Stoke City 2-0 Wednesday

It’s not often you look forward to spending a December evening in Stoke, but being one win away from a two-legged semi-final in a major completion is definitely reason enough.

There also wasn’t much to lose from a Wednesday point of view as fixtures can start piling up as new year approaches.

A win would be beyond exciting but we’ve had a good run and a great win over a Champions League team on the way. A defeat, though disappointing, wouldn’t be a total disaster.

I’m off work this week, so instead of the usual running around you do for an away mid-week game, I had a lazy afternoon watching films and then met the others for the journey to Staffordshire.

I announced in the car that I was on ramble duty again, at which point James pointed out that he gets accused of things he didn’t do in my rambles.

Apparently I got him and Mark mixed up in the Blackburn ramble – apologies Jimbo!

Before long we were well on our way and there was nothing but darkness and Derbyshire country lanes. James, yes it was DEFINITELY James, was navigating with the help of his TomTom app. Except Mark wasn’t happy with the instructions:

James: OK, Mark, you need to take a left at these crossroads.

Mark: Left? I’m sure it’s a right here.

James: Well, this is what TomTom is telling me.

At this point we’d reached the crossroad and mark was SURE we needed to go right. Like Luke in Star Wars, he turned off the nave-computer and opted for the force. And it worked a treat and cut the journey time!

Mark doesn't carry the Beastie 'sense of direction' gene

Mark doesn’t carry the Beastie ‘sense of direction’ gene

Mark 1 – 0 TomTom.

The next problem was that the beer we were guzzling was going to require a pit stop. These were narrow country lanes and it was pitch black. Suddenly I feel the BRAKES. Here you go, says Mark, who’s spotted a lay-by. We all get out to water a nearby field, with one problem. It was WINDY.

James, Will, Tom and I stood with good distance between us as we relieved ourselves into the wind! Luckily the we managed to aim without any damage being done.

Soon enough we were almost at Stoke and we find a decent spot to park. There’s no time for getting into a pub but too much time to go the ground so we sit in the car and finish our beers, while checking team news.

Wildsmith was in net (no surprise there) with Joao and Hooper up front. We were happy with that.

We set off for the ground. We had no idea how to get there but we just followed the crowds, around the back streets of Stoke and then over a footbridge above the motorway. I thought these new grounds were supposed to be easy to get to?

Joe Wildsmith retained his cup place

Joe Wildsmith retained his cup place

We got to the ground to find that it’s not one of the grounds that you can just walk around. As we had to walk back onto the road for what seemed like an age and finally at the away turnstiles, then passed the now standard, post-Paris searches. Except they ask you to open your coat but not check the actual coat. That makes sense?

Anyhow we were there just as the teams came out.

THE MATCH

Stoke dominated the possession early on and looked to find Crouch’s head. Despite the possession, we looked strong at the back but continued to keep the ball. It was clear that Stoke were up for this in a way that Arsenal never were and such more of a team than Newcastle.

Before long Crouch was limping. He was really struggling but carried on.

The guy to my left was sure it was a hamstring and would be off. I’m don’t know why he was so sure but despite his best efforts to carry on, he was replaced by Joselu.

Could this be a stroke of luck, like Chamberlain and Walcott going off in the Arsenal game?

Stoke continued to dominate but a good save from Wildsmith kept the game level. Then we seemed to get a bit more confidence and Lee was coming into his game.

Suddenly he broke into their box to find Hooper, he was going to score …but he never connected and the chance was gone. And soon after Joao did some good work and another chance just fell behind Hoops.

Were we getting back into it or would we regret these misses?

Hooper had a good chance to give Wednesday the lead

Hooper had a good chance to give Wednesday the lead

Unfortunately Stoke continued to dominate the ball as they got dangerous, if over hit, free kicks.

Then another Stoke move, a good ball and a great volley passed Wildsmith. SHIT.

To make matter worse, Tom Lees went down and had to go off. Pudil was on and played at centre half.

After this we barely got back into the game and Stoke looked comfortable and professional at 1-0. It also my turn to get the half time pints so went down on 40 minutes.

HT – Stoke City 1-0 Wednesday

The choice of beer was incredible. It was Carlsberg … or Carlsberg. And at £4.20 a go … to be expected. Half time and pints passed, well just short of a pint as that’s all the Carlsberg I could stand. And we felt that we didn’t need to panic and keep it at 1-0 for as long as we can. If we can get a chance we can push for extra time.

What we couldn’t do was concede early. The second half started with Hunt going off for McGugan and Sougou moving to right back. For the first twenty minutes of the half we were into the game a lot more and the players heads didn’t drop. Yet, Jack Butland still didn’t have much to do.

Joao battles for possession

Joao battles for possession

Wildsmith, however, was holding his own and Pudil had a volley that just went wide. This isn’t over yet, we thought!

Then it was. They got a free kick and it was brilliantly taken by Bardsley. 2-0 and game over. Carlos took off Loovens and put Nuhiu up front, you couldn’t say we weren’t trying.

But it was clear, this game was over. And the fans started streaming out. Wave after wave of fans, to the extent that the stands were half empty.

Except it was the home fans! Here they were, winning a good game well and about to reach the semi finals of a major tournament, in which some of the biggest teams are already out and they’d rather get home a little early.

This was disrespectful, not just to the competition, but most of all to their team, who have a good chance of silverware. How many trophies have Stoke won in recent years? How many semi-finals? Show some respect to your team!

FT – Stoke City 2-0 Wednesday

Almost all the Wednesday fans stayed, clapped the team off and sang ‘Carlos had a dream’ as they went down the tunnel. We left and found that the short ten minute walk to the ground turned into an endless and slow trawl. It was just so slow! Again, how is a new ground so bad to get away from?

Eventually we were back in the car and hoping for another beer. Except we’d run out. Oh well, at least I don’t have to get up in the morning.

It’s time to “concentrate on the league” etc etc.

A Sunday afternoon at home against Derby beckons…

JP
Owls Alive
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