Andy Munro has finally calmed down after watching Blues’ epic cup tie with Stoke.
If it’s true that the British like glorious sporting defeats then this was in the Rule Britannia class, although I suppose that technically it could even be said that we drew the real game. Certainly it was an attractive tie on paper so the attendance in terms of Blues fans was poor but the volume of noisy support belied that fact as the Stokies definitely lost in the Delilah v Keep Right On battle for supremacy.
The Blues line up was sensible in their hard-pressed circumstances and, great player though Murphy is, resting him against his nemesis Pennant and bringing in the energetic Hancox was a good shot. Obviously the twinned forward partnership of Ziggy and Novak was not going to beat land speed records but Lee Clark had few options with his only game changers of Burke and Lingard unavailable.
Early on it was fairly nip and tuck but it was Stoke who took the lead through the hugely impressive Assaidi who was a bundle of tricks (unfortunately in more than one sense) throughout. To their credit, Blues continued to plug away and equalised in equally impressive manner when Adeymi started and coolly finished off a five man move. Just when it seemed that things were back on track, Wade Elliott stupidly reacted with a raised elbow to a sly nudge from Assaidi . The latter then proceeded to collapse like a pack of cards as if he had been hit by a ten ton truck. Elliott’s fate was sealed, helped by lineside grass Kenwyne Jones and Blues were down to ten men.
Predictably in the second period Stoke took the lead with a text book Crouch header and soon afterwards added a third. However , amazingly, the Blues weren’t done yet as some fine work and a shot by Demarai Grey led to Lovenkrans rifling in the rebound. As Blues surged forward, egged on by their fans, they incredibly took the game into extra time when the same player netted from close in following further Blues pressure.
In the second period, Jones sprung the Blues’ defence offside trap at the second time of asking and coolly rounded Doyle to slot home. Blues kept the score line to 3-4 until they turned around to face a passionate Tilton. Amazingly they eventually got the equaliser when Ollie Lee fired home with a couple of minutes to go. They could have even won the match when Demarai Gray weaved his way across the Stoke penalty area before firing just wide of the post with the keeper beaten. It would have been a fairytale ending but was not to be as we cruelly lost on penalties.
Hopefully this will now inspire the fans as well as the players and suffice to say the match will livelong in the memory of those present, placed firmly in the ‘I was there’ reminiscing category.