Ahead of Stoke City’s Championship restart on December 10th, The Potters tested themselves against Nottingham Forest in a friendly on Friday — Thanks to two second half goals against Forest, The Potters passed an early second half of the season test.
Alex Neil stated on Thursday, that the goal of Friday’s friendly was to work on both areas of the team’s attack and defense. Well, if those were the boxes Neil was looking to check off, then Neil has to be happy with what he saw from Stoke City.
Although the club gave up a first half goal to Morgan Gibbs-White, Stoke City overall were able to mostly hold down Forest in attack — Considering Stoke City were missing their best defender in Souttar as well, that only bodes well for Stoke City defensively moving forward.
Then in attack for The Potters, they were able to check that box by finding the back of the net twice. Even though one goal was counted as an own goal, it was Stoke City’s pressure in attack that stood out.
Due to decent to good pressure in attack, Stoke City were able to test Forest defensively and ultimately find the back of the net twice — after Tyrese Campbell pushed the ball through into goal, late in the second half.
The 2-1 friendly victory for Stoke City will now give them even more building blocks as the team gets set for Cardiff City on Saturday.
Breaking Down Stoke City’s Starting XI From Friday
For Friday’s friendly, outside of center-back Harry Souttar who had been away at the World Cup, Stoke City had almost their entire first team available for selection.
At least for Friday’s friendly, Alex Neil came out of the World Cup break with a starting XI of Jack Bonham, Aden Flint, Ben Wilmot, Connor Taylor, Dujon sterling, Lewis Baker, Jordan Thompson, Will Smallbone, Josh Tymon, Jacob Brown, and Dwight Gayle.
With Souttar away, Neil figured to rotate his center-backs a bit. So Taylor and Flint starting on Friday wasn’t a huge surprise necessarily. Maybe the biggest surprise for Stoke’s lineup on Friday, was Bonham starting over Josef Bursik.
Does that mean there’s a goalkeeping switch brewing from Bursik to Bonham? Maybe or maybe not. With any friendly, there’s going to be some rotation as a manager tries to give some minutes to different players. But on the same hand, a friendly is also used to get a team ready for regular match action.
So it’s very possible that new goalkeeping coach Jonathan Gould and manager Alex Neil agree that a goalkeeper switch is needed.
Notable First Team Inclusions
Other notable inclusions in Stoke City’s squad on Friday were youngsters Emre Tezgel and Tom Sparrow who were named to The Potters bench. Both U21’s who have been lighting it up this season, saw minutes late in the second half of the friendly.
Could that be a sign of things to come, could Alex Neil start to push more youngsters into Stoke City’s matchday squads? Like the team’s goalkeeping situation, it might or might not mean anything.
But one would think that Alex Neil will eventually this season push more young players into his matchday squad — Even if that move starts to come later in the second half of the season.