Stoke City 1 (Richardson)
Bristol City 1
A late equaliser gave Bristol City a share of the points after a solid start to the season from the Potters. A Jordan Richardson strike early in the second half gave Stoke a vital lead but the West Country outfit fought back into the game and grabbed a vital equaliser deep into the game.
The Potters were favourites going into the game, although the Bristol side weren’t going to roll over, especially after their 2-0 pre-season win over Nottingham Forest last weekend. Bristol City included midfielder Kris Scott in their starting line up, son of Stoke City’s recruitment manager Kevin Scott. Scott was close to a move to Stoke this summer, but a mix up over his age kept him at Ashton Gate.
The tension was building around Stoke’s state-of-the-art training complex on this opening day and the players were feeling fairly confident ahead of the match. Manager Dave Kevan was also quietly confident having an almost full strength side at his disposal. The trio of goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann, Karim Rossi and Smajl Suljevic were all forced out of the game because of a FIFA International paper, which could see them miss the first few weeks of the season. Jordan Richardson and Jordan Galloway had both fully recovered from injury, and were both in the 18-man squad.
It was a slow start at Clayton Wood, with both sides being rather cautious, keeping bodies back. The first real attack of the game came in the eighth minute, with a corner that eventually fizzled out and came to nothing. However Bristol City gained possession and went on the counter-attack, the chance looking promising but Richardson put in a crunching tackle to put a stop to the play.
Stoke kept possession nicely, passing well, captain Lucas Dawson being the main man in the middle of the park. Bristol City came into the game though, firing crosses, free kicks and corners into the box but Stoke and in particularly Dale Eve, dealt well with anything chucked in at them. Stoke were putting in an assured and mature performance. Slowly building attacks through the back and through Lucas Dawson, who was as level as the two centre halves when Stoke were in possession. Dawson is the one to watch for me this season, the only Stokie in the team and an all round good, Tony Pulis-like midfielder. He put in tackles, sat back, and played intelligent passes all across the pitch.
The game was killed and then brought to life around the 30minute mark. The ref stopped the game for a good minute or so as the shoelaces of the number 7 came undone after a tackle. Bizarre, however the players were woken up when a smart and tactically worked throw-in gave the #7 space on the edge of the box. A weave and a turn found him space inside the box but his drilled shot only found the side netting. Stoke had to reply and a corner provided multiple attacks. Tunji headed into the box and the opposition keeper dropped the ball into his six-yard box before quickly gathered. Another chance came before half time when a long ball by Dawson found Tunji on the right hand side, some smart play saw the forward drift inside and get a powerful shot on target but the ‘keeper saved well.
Within a minute or two of the second half kicking off, Bristol City had a chance to go in front. The Bristol #11 glided through the middle but was met by the oncoming Dale Eve. The Robins forward hit high over the bar as Stoke escaped an early second half scare. Bristol City pushed on and were on top for the first 10/15 minutes of the half. An attack down the left nearly produced a Stoke own goal when a cross was whipped in and Parry slid the ball inches wide of the post. A corner was then floated into the box and the resulting header was seen over the goal after a nice save from Eve. Another corner but again, Eve was equal to it and caught well. The Bermudan was slowly becoming man of the match and his form showed when Bristol’s #9 volleyed hard from outside the box, Eve dived, saved and the recouped the shot.
Then, out of nowhere, Stoke took the lead. A smartly played through ball was met by midfielder Clarkson, who found himself onside and more importantly one on one with the Bristol goalkeeper. The shot was saved but Jordan Richardson, back from injury, followed up to rocket the ball into the empty net. It was the goal that Stoke needed and ‘Rico’ calmly slotted away when it could have flown over the bar. Stoke added even more pressure and the chance to add a 2nd came when big center half Immanuel Parry headed from a corner. The ball flew past the keeper and into the goal. The crowd gasped but the man on the line used his chest to deflect the ball away.
After Jordan Richardson fired the Potters into the lead, the next twenty or so minutes fell short of what had been an exciting game and went flat. The play was bleak and both teams looked settled on the score line. However five minutes before time, Bristol City crept up the pitch and surprisingly the Bristol City striker Gordon swung an unexpected shot around Eve and into the Stoke net. The Stoke players gutted, 3 points turned into 1 just like that. With only a few minutes left, Stoke pushed everything they had in to getting the winner. A few throw-ins, a few crosses but Stoke couldn’t break through. The last chance of the game came when Ryan O’Reilly floated a long pass across field and into the box. Tunji’s neat run gave him a chance but he could only shoot straight into the goalkeeper’s arms from such a tight angle.
Overall this was a game where Stoke could and should have grabbed all 3 points from with the players certain to look back at this performance and strive to improve. A win would have been a dream start, but in a league with some fantastic youth prospects, some solid opposition and some great academy setups a 1-1 draw will surely be a worthwhile point in the long run and in no way shrouded by a poor performance thanks to some intelligent play from some of our own exciting prospects.
Stoke City XI
Connor Roberts-Nurse Immanuel Parry Ryan O’Reilly Andrew Hall
Michael Clarkson Jordan Richardson
Tunji Jordan Marcel Barrington Andrew Musungu
Subs: Allen Bossman, on for, Jordan Richardson
Unused subs: Jordan Galloway