Stoke City match recap and analysis – 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough
To the credit of Michael O’Neill, I’m now getting into the habit of saying this – Stoke were clearly the better side and dictated much of the play. It’s become a theme to see the Potters slowly gain complete control of the game, go up, and then play structured football for the rest of the match and secure points. Today was no different. Oh, and how about Joe Bursik with 3 clean sheets in row? So much for doubting the young keeper. With today’s victory Stoke move into 5th place in the Championship table, just three points from the top spot. All good things today despite Neil Warnock’s insane post-match comments.
Stoke lined up with a 4-2-3-1 again. A single change from Wednesday evening – Jacob Brown came in for Sam Vokes. James McClean occupied the left wing while Tyrese Campbell moved over to the right.
An early blow for Stoke as Sam Clucas had an injury and came off in the 8′ for Josh Tymon.
The first 15 minutes were incredibly sloppy, tons of fouls and zero flow or momentum. Morgan Fox assisted on the lone goal of the match as he placed a perfect cross which found Nathan Collins, putting Stoke up 1-0 in the 19′.
In the 37’ Middlesbrough started to generate some sustained pressure for the first time. Bursik made a save on a deflected shot, but left a rebound that had to be blocked by Danny Batth.
Players of the half – Nathan Collins and Morgan Fox. Fox continues to make consistent quality crosses and Collins was impressive on defense as well as going forward.
Great start to the second half for Stoke as they came out energized and looking to add to their lead.
Collins fought his way into the box to send a dangerous cross in but was unable to find anyone. Morgan Fox and Tyrese Campbell both had clear chances to put Stoke up another goal but each couldn’t find the net.
Then the injuries started to rack up for Stoke as Middlesbrough continued to lay on tough challenges. Danny Batth was forced off in place of Ryan Shawcross who made his season debut.
Nick Powell also had to be replace due to an injury. Tashan Oakley-Boothe came on as a replacement.
Touchy chance for Middlesbrough in the 81’. Great block by James Chester on close chance that would have surely been a goal.
- Nathan Collins, once again, looked amazing at right-back. Similar to Souttar early in the season, he’s giving MON no choice but to keep playing him. This is even more impressive when you realize he’s most likely taking minutes from Tommy Smith who is close to the club lead in minutes played.
- Joe Bursik – though not tested that much, he was solid again.
- Back line was very impressive, Stoke continue to be incredibly hard to break down. Before coming off, the combination of Batth and Chester were fantastic. Chester had a great night, enough to have me think about changing my rating on him from a few days ago.
- Injuries will be concerning going into next week. We’ll have to hope for positive news on Clucas, Batth, and Powell.