For the first time this season, Stoke City was able to find the back of the net three times, coasting to a comfortable win against Hull City on Tuesday. Not only did The Potters break out offensively, but they also played great defensively with a clean sheet victory on the road at MKM Stadium.
Outside of the three points Stoke City needed in the game to give themselves some early-season breathing room from a relegation position, they also needed this win to give the team confidence and momentum. Going into this match against Hull City, there was a sense of unease within the team because of some mistakes made in recent weeks. But, after a convincing win that unease should dissipate.
Both momentum and confidence can be big factors for successful teams and Stoke boss Alex Neil will be hoping that’s what this win does for his squad. We might look back on this win at the end of the season and say this win didn’t mean much at all. But there’s also a good chance we look back on this game months from now and say this was the game that launched Stoke City up the Championship table.
Who stood out for Stoke City against Hull City?
Baker was easily the player of the match after scoring two goals and adding an assist. Baker’s first goal came in the first half on a deflected free kick. His second goal came in the second half just outside the box after making a great run towards the box and helping link up play with Liam Delap/Dwight Gayle. His assist was a beauty too as he placed a cross from a free kick perfectly far post for Wilmot.
Baker showed everything you want to see in an attacking midfielder. He’ll be a huge key for Stoke City moving forward.
Gayle didn’t pad the stats as much as Baker, but he did add an assist in the game and looked explosive throughout. He made some great runs beside Liam Delap and looked fantastic on the ball with every touch making some great one-touch passes and even a dangerous flick-on at one point in the first half.
Delap had the weirdest performance of the game. In the first half, Delap was very ineffective, to say the least. He failed to link up with Gayle by electing to shoot on one occasion that would have led to a scoring chance for Gayle had he passed.
The second half he redeemed himself a bit. He was a big part of the buildup on the team’s third goal giving it quickly back to Gayle after receiving the ball from him moments before. He additionally held up play down the stretch and other points of the second half nicely. An up and down game for the Manchester City loanee.
Jack Bonham was supposed to start in goal Tuesday but ended up getting scratched last second. Bursik took his opportunity and ran with it. While Bursik didn’t have to make a ton of saves, he made the easy ones. However, Bursik did make one difficult save near the end of the second half that kept the team’s clean sheet intact. He also did a great job getting off his line constantly and securing the ball when needed with crosses/loose balls in the 18-yard box.
Bursik would have been my choice to start Tuesday after Bonham’s hiccup against Reading. Neil didn’t see it that way initially. Could this put Bursik in the net again Saturday? I think there’s a good chance it does. He could also be forced into starting if Bonham is out for any time with an injury.
Brown was a bit of a defensive liability in the first half at wing-back. You have to feel for him as he’s not necessarily a first-choice wing-back every game. It showed in the first half.
Brown was continually too far up in the play when Hull City would win back possession. This allowed Hull City a ton of room to run behind him with weighted passes. A credit to Brown that he did play more conservatively in the second half.
Honorary mentions: William Smallbone, Jordan Thompson, and Aden Flint – Smallbone should have scored on a break in the second half. We’ll give him a break though as the rest of the game he was very effective in the press.
Thompson also did a good job clogging up the midfield for Stoke City. He played the deepest of all midfielders and was steady when needed.
While Wilmot scored the header in the first half – if you watch the play closer – it was Flint who made that play happen (outside of the cross from Baker). Flint did a great job using his size to take Hull City defenders with him to free Wilmot. Flint also won countless other aerial duels in the match, clearing his lines defensively.