For Stoke City so far this season, any momentum is good momentum. And for The Potters on Sunday, the club definitely walked away with some positive energy after beating Hartlepool 3-0 at The Suit Direct Stadium.
Thanks to two goals in the first-half and one goal in the second half, Stoke City were able to eliminate Hartlepool and move on in the FA Cup — Stoke City’s next match/opponent in the FA Cup will come down to the winner of Aston Villa versus Stevenage later on Sunday.
A Win’s A Win for Stoke City
It would be easy for Stoke City fans and even to a certain extent the club to write off Sunday’s FA Cup win. After all, Hartlepool does play in League Two and might even be on their way this season to dropping down another league.
Plus, Stoke City were gifted two own goals on Sunday from Hartlepool. So the “it should have been an easy win” sentiment around the team would be understandable. But given The Potters rocky form so far this season, it’s important to take away any good momentum.
And that’s exactly what the club did on Sunday, which is to create some positive momentum and play well. Even on both own goals from Hartlepool, it was The Potters’ work prior in their build-up and balls into the 18-yard box that created mistakes from Hartlepool.
Additionally, Hartlepool’s second-half own goal came when Liam Delap slipped in behind Hartlepool’s center-backs and was awaiting the ball in the 6-yard box —That forced pressure on Rollin Menayese of Hartlepool to have to deal perfectly with the ball and ultimately led to the own goal.
Sunday’s win for Stoke doesn’t solve all of the club’s problems this season. Or even possibly launch the club in a better direction in the Championship or deep into the FA Cup — What it does do though, at least for the moment, is give the club some confidence going into the next week of the season.
What Stoke City Did Well Against Hartlepool
As written on Friday with the site’s prediction piece for the match, Stoke City’s goal in Sunday’s match should have been to control the game. And that’s exactly what the club was able to do against Hartlepool.
Stoke City for most of the 90 minutes were able to win the ball and retain the ball for the bigger chunk of possession (at one point up to 55% possession for Stoke). This led to The Potters being able to apply pressure to Hartlepool in attack and keep the pressure off of their own backline.
With that larger possession chunk, another key area Stoke City succeeded at on Sunday was their build-up and link-up play. It wasn’t perfect at times still (Alex Neil was shown many times frustrated at his team in the dugout), but overall it was successful for Stoke City in their 3-0 win.
On more than a handful of occasions, Stoke City were able to put together some quick passing combinations and work the ball deep into their attacking third of the pitch. Also on a handful of occasions, Stoke City was able to find that final quality pass to create chances for the club in attack.
You add all of that together with Stoke City’s solid defensive display, and it was a solid day for The Potters — A solid performance in which Neil and the club will be hoping to carry into next Saturday’s Championship match against Sheffield United.