Match: Stoke City v Aston Villa
Date: Saturday 23rd February 2019
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Venue: Bet365 Stadium
Attendance: 27, 975
Steer; Hutton (Adomah) (Green)), Elphick, Mings, Hause; Elmohamady, Whelan, Hourihane, El Ghazi; Kodjia, Abraham. UNUSED SUBS: Kalinic, Taylor, Jedinak, Bjarnason, Ramsey.
Story in brief
Albert Adomah’s second-half strike earned Aston Villa a point at Stoke City, having fallen behind to an early goal in the first half.
The hosts were in front with barely five minutes on the clock - Charlie Adam’s raking cross-field ball was picked out James McClean on the Stoke left and his low cross in was flicked over the line by Sam Vokes from six yards.
Villa’s best chance of a cagey first 45 fell to Anwar El Ghazi shortly before the break. After Stoke skipper Danny Batth had headed straight at Jed Steer, Villa’s quick break upfield ended with a slip by a defender presenting El Ghazi with a clear sight of goal. The Dutchman shifted the ball onto his right-hand side but could only blaze over the bar.
Villa came flying out of the traps at the start of the second half with plenty of possession and intent although it was Stoke who saw a half-chance come and go when Tom Ince’s snapshot on the turn was well held by Steer.
Just beyond the hour mark, the visitors were rewarded for their bright start with a goal which started inside their own half.
Tammy Abraham’s neat chest-off to El Ghazi manufactured some room for the Dutchman to skate away down the left flank. Leaving three opposition players in his wake, he laid an inviting ball across the box which was tucked home by Adomah.
Minutes later, Villa could have taken the lead but for a fine intervention from Jack Butland.
Kortney Hause’s perfect ball in from the left was powered goalwards by Abraham and looked destined for the net but Butland’s smart stop denied him.
Sandwiched in between was an effort at the other end from Charlie Adam who tried to catch Steer off his line with an effort from distance but the Villa stopper was only forced into a routine save.
As the visitors pushed for a winner, Conor Hourihane’s free-kick whistled over the angle of bar and post, while in stoppage time, Butland was forced into another smart save, diving full-length to push a looping header from Tyrone Mings over the bar.
It was a return to the scoresheet for Albert Adomah, having been pressed into an early appearance from the bench with Alan Hutton leaving the field injured in the opening minutes.
The winger was perfectly placed to confidently side-foot Anwar El Ghazi’s cut-back into the corner of the net.
Not the best of circumstances to return in but a positive contribution, nonetheless.
Goodbye to Gordon
The Bet365 was awash with emotion, particularly prior to kick-off, as the Potters paid a touching tribute to Gordon Banks who sadly passed away earlier this month.
A pre-match minute silence was impeccably observed before wreaths were symbolically laid in the centre circle.
Members of the former England goalkeeper's family laid a wreath before City’s Jack Butland, dressed in a plain green shirt similar to one Banks would have worn, and Villa’s Jed Steer placed floral footballs decked in their respective team colours either side.
It’s a clash with Derby County next up.
We face the Rams on Saturday 2nd March, with a 3pm kick-off.
The corresponding fixture was one of the highlights of our campaign to date as goals from John McGinn, Tammy Abraham and Conor Hourihane earned us a very impressive three points.
Same again, please!