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Match Report: Bolton 5-0 Stoke (Stoke Fan's Perspective)

Monday 7th November 2011
Before today's game, Stoke have lost all three Premier League games after mid-week European games, while Bolton have lost all of their home games so far this season. In any case one series would have been ended today or the two of them.

Stoke in total and Asmir Begovic in particular overslept the first minutes (or should I say the whole game?) completely. There was also controversy with that kick which was meant to be a change of side in defence by Glenn Whelan but was mishit so Begovic thought he could collect the ball with his hands. But referee Howard Webb judged it as a back pass so consequently gave a free kick within the penalty box. Now it was time for another Begovic error as he handed the ball with too much haste to Ivan Klasnic. As he now dropped the ball to the ground Howard Webb restarted the game, Klasnic passed to Kevin Davies who finally scores far too easy. The Stoke defence still argued about the free kick when the goal was already hit. At least Begovic should have kept the ball as long as his team mates were back in goal to defend the free kick.

So in the end it was a schoolboy error throughout the whole team at the lowest level at the worst possible time. Because from now on Stoke looked never to be able or even tried to get anything out of this game. Plus: Begovic made another error when he tried to clear the ball but slipped and went to the ground while the ball directly fell to Chris Eagles. His goal was perfectly hit – straight into the net from around 20 yards but it could have been gone anywhere.

For Stoke today both came together: an awful all-round display and bad luck. Four years ago when Stoke were back in the Premier League they played their first game on this very ground in Bolton, lost 3-1 but today they played like they were back in the Championship. Begovic made two costly errors within the first 30 minutes and never got back confidence. The centre back pairing with Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew Upson was abysmal and their other team mates ran around the place like nervous chickens.

With getting a pause from the abysmal Stoke football after the first half, I just wanted to believe that there is just another half right around the corner and that this half could be better. But deep down I knew: it would get worse and as expected, it got worse.

If you were watching the game without any idea about the two clubs and what they have done so far, you wouldn't think that Stoke has played some good football in the Europa League while Bolton is second from the bottom of the Premier League table. There was no formation recognizable in the Stoke game; their passes only a few times met their target not to mention their goal scoring opportunities. For sure there were some Rory Delap throws again but after some nervy ping-pong header game in the penalty box as a result, the ball was always cleared in some way or another.

Bolton scored a third goal after Robert Huth decided to join in the awful display with a sloppy header finally lead to Ivan Klasnic's first goal of the game. Then Tony Pulis decided to make a triple change with Andy Wilkinson, Glenn Whelan and Jermaine Pennant were subbed for Danny Higginbotham, Dean Whitehead and Kenwyne Jones.

But on the pitch there wasn't any change – not to the positive. Two more goals finished Stoke with 5-0 and left them with much to think about. I wasn't happy when Tony Pulis said that it was a bit of an unlucky decision by the FA that the Premier League game against Newcastle was scheduled on Monday while Stoke had to be play their Europa League game in Israel on Thursday and then again today against Bolton. I wasn't happy about this statement because there was already an excuse in case of any failure or awful play.

Stoke did play well in Tel Aviv. There were seven changes in the starting XI for the game in Bolton so Europe can't be an excuse for this display. Maybe Pulis should start his Europa League starting XI also in the Premier League.
Seamus Kennan

Total articles: 4

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