Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Saturday December 13 2008
0-0, it`s got a familiar ring about it now hasn`t it?
A 0-0 draw at the Britannia Stadium this afternoon gave us our third 0-0 away result on the trot. Our failure to score also means that our talky of two goals on the road is the lowest in the league seeing as that lot up at Loftus Road managed to score at Plymouth today.
But, despite my cockiness beforehand that today would be the day we`d get our first away win of the season; it`s not all bad news. After all the 0-0 draw gave us our sixth unbeaten game on the trot and illustrated that, under Roy Hodgson, we`re becoming harder and harder to beat.
Also when you consider that our London rivals, Spurs and Arsenal both came unstuck at the Britannia Stadium, it`s easier to see why, tonight, I am a little chuffed.
The team took o the pitch without Bobby Zamora. Our signing from West Ham wasn`t in the starting eleven or on the bench and we can only assume he picked up a slight knock or was taken ill. Zoltan Gera filled the gap as Andrew Johnson often looked to plough a lone furrow up front with Roy Hodgson keeping it tight in midfield.
So what of the game? To be honest it was nothing special. As expected Rory Delap started, after having an injection in his shoulder, and Stoke looked to take advantage of his long throw-ins. In fact as the afternoon was to unfurl, long throws and set pieces were all that Stoke could muster in an attempt to knock us out of our comfortable stride.
Perhaps the home side were not helped when very early on Sidibe had to be carried off, in agony, after injuring his knee. Elsewhere, Jimmy Bullard and Danny Murphy bossed the midfield but the crux of the matter was that both teams lacked that little extra something to break the deadlock when the ball was moved into the final third of the pitch.
There were the occasional chances though. Stoke will rue a Sonko header that was off target and Fuller will be a little miffed he curled his shot wide when well placed. As for Fulham, whilst Murphy and Bullard bossed the midfield we missed the enterprise of Zamora alongside him.
Stuart Atwell, the much-maligned referee, had a decent game and was quite right in turning down a late Stoke penalty appeal when a Murphy tackle deprived Fuller. He was also honest enough to recognise that a clash involving Pantsil and a Stoke player was nothing more than handbags at ten paces.
So it`s on to next week and the visit of Middlesbrough. Can we make it seven games unbeaten and keep our great home record going?
This hack reckons we can and that we will!
Date:Saturday December 13 2008
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