Team: Kenny, Hill, Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Young (Orr), Traore, Barton, Faurlin, Wright-Phillips, Mackie, Helguson.
Subs Not Used: Derry, Buzsaky, Smith, Hewitt. Murphy was originally named but got injured.
A great trip to the Potteries. My brother is a Stoke fan and regularly sees them play away from home, but he had not been to a home game since they lost 8-0 to Liverpool in the Worthington Cup eleven years ago. Rangers visit to Stoke was therefore another unhappy occasion for him !
I was pleased to see Peter Crouch get a good, well deserved reception from the 1,311 Rangers fans at the Britannia Stadium. After 8 minutes though, he laid on a good pass to Jonathan Walters who scored with a strong finish. Stoke then threw a lot at Rangers, but they weathered the storm and gradually started to out-pass the home side.
After 22 minutes, a Traore cross to Helguson resulted in an excellent long range header that flew into the far corner of the Stoke net. Rangers started to control the game just before half-time and a superb move resulted in Jamie Mackie crossing for Luke Young to score his first Rangers goal with a flick of the ball into the net, much to the delight of the Rangers players plus the R’s supporters gathered behind the goal.
The game was littered with some bizarre decisions from referee Mike Jones who really wound the Stoke fans up. Early in the second half, their anger was intensified by Joey Barton as he sat on the edge of an advertising hoarding and posed for the home fans. The loose change donated to him was handed to the Stoke stewards ! The early stages of the second half were controlled by Rangers and after 54 minutes, a Barton cross was turned in by Helguson.
A few minutes later it looked like Helguson had grabbed a hat-trick and sealed the game for Rangers, but his effort was ruled offside. The game turned when Crouch’s header was turned in by Shawcross after 64 minutes. Rangers defended well from this point onwards though and their 3-2 win was well deserved.
This was a contest that brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “throwing in the towel”. Queens Park Rangers arrived under instructions to demand a towel from the ballboy each time they took a throw-in, mimicking Stoke City’s Rory Delap. Luke Young looked embarrassed about doing it so early on in the game, but by the break QPR were making such use of the hosts’ linen that the ballboys were sent out empty handed in the second-half.
“You either have the towel or you don’t; you can’t take them away at half-time, because you’re team are losing. So I went and fetched my own towel,” said Neil Warnock, whose coaching staff were chastised by the referee for doing so. When a towel later emerged from the home dugout, the ensuing row ended with the Stoke physio Andy Davies being sent off.
The denouement of this amusing absurd subplot was the least of Tony Pulis’s complaints, however, after the referee ignored two Stoke penalty claims. When Joey Barton stepped across Jermaine Pennant in the seventh minute the contact appeared minimal, but when play was waved on after Barton’s clumsy challenge on Robert Huth in the closing minutes, crowd and bench leapt as one to protest.
Georgina Turner – The Guardian
After we completed our quick pre-game warm up drink in ‘The Congress’ in Longton, we parked the car in an impromptu industrial estate car park and made our way to the ground. The Britannia is reasonably impressive but, by virtue of having three completely open corners, it still looks somewhat incomplete. The away end entrance, patrolled by stewards and police, looked decidedly uninviting and the dodgy burger van immediately outside the turnstiles even more so. Once inside there was a smallish area with two kiosks which at a first glance looked closed because of a chicken wire-type barrier separating the staff from the punters – I’ve never seen this before !
Our seats were pretty central within what seemed to be about one-third of the entire end. By the time we got in Brian Murphy, the sub R’s keeper had already injured himself and was out of the match. Rangers eventually had only five subs because Jason Puncheon was sent home with tonsillitis. I can’t remember that happening before either.
Rangers played well on the Stoke mini-pitch – perhaps it suited them better than Stoke !? The first Stoke goal came following a mix-up, but the R’s re-grouped and started passing it around really well. Traore’s whipped-in cross for Helguson’s unstoppable bullet header from distance was a true classic. The second saw some intricate play on the right and a great finish by Luke Young. I couldn’t see much of the Helguson third goal except on TV later, but it was a good finish.
Stoke’s second came after a period of sustained pressure including throw-ins and corners. At the end it was all hands to the pumps as balls were launched in from all angles as City became increasingly desperate for the equaliser. A resolute display all round with particular mentions for Barton, Mackie, Traore, Wright-Phillips and Helguson.
Those amusing chants of “Hooooofff” from the R’s fans every time Delap launched another bullet throw-in into the R’s area.
My mate Lee, a City fan, who was sat behind the R’s dugout, said that there was a good deal of banter going on with Warnock.
Was the Stoke City mascot a dog or a hippo !? We couldn’t decide.
And the ‘Best Moustache of the Day Award’ goes to….Jamie Mackie for a Mexican-style tache that Nick Cave would be proud of.
Several R’s supporters to the left of us arrived in fancy dress, including an Elvis in Las Vegas era get-up who made it onto the Match of the Day highlights. Fortunately I didn’t make it onto TV this time, unlike the Spurs game where I was caught looking a bit miserable !
A very, very good performance, it could easily have been another drubbing after conceding the early goal, but Rangers were brilliant. Mackie ran his heart out and his presence of mind to pick out Young instead of shooting was very, very good. Helguson took his first goal brilliantly and his ability to annoy teams in general play is second to none. Traore looked much better playing further up without the worry of defending. Three vital points, but it was the way that Rangers played that was the most encouraging. Very pleasing. YOU RRRRSSSSS !!!
Scott Adams – editor of ‘Metal as Fuck’ magazine, resident of Canberra, Australia, life-long Rangers fan and former resident of Willesden and Marlow. Enjoying the ability to view every Rangers game this season via the internet !