With Leroy Fer`s absence confirmed for a “number of weeks” and Wes Hoolahan seemingly back in favour, the only change to the side that was thumped at Aston Villa last week, was Ricky van Wolfswinkel in for Hooper who dropped down to the bench.
Prior to kick off, a number of City legends were brought onto the field in support of ex-City Captain, Duncan Forbes who has been struck down by Alzheimer`s disease. Particularly loud cheers and rounds of applause were reserved for Martin Peters, Ken Brown and Dave Stringer.
It`s no exaggeration to say that City could`ve been 2 or 3 nil down at half time – they were that poor. Only weak finishing by Crouch and Walters as well as good goal keeping from John Ruddy kept things level at half time as the home side clearly struggled with the low sun at the Barclay End.
City spent the first 25 minutes or so, being cut open by the visitors without really mounting much of an offensive threat. Redmond danced about a bit, Snodgrass fluffed a couple of decent crossing opportunities and RvW glanced a header wide.
City`s best chance of the half came when Wes Hoolahan bamboozled the Stoke defence on the edge of the area and slid Snodgrass in and his first time shot was parried by Begovic.
0-0 at half time though, and we were lucky to have that!
City started the second half with a lot more purpose and took just eleven minutes to open the scoring when Bradley Johnson headed in a Snodgrass free kick.
After that, City kept things reasonably tight and frustrated a Stoke side that huffed and puffed with Crouch and Walters but never really threatened. That was until the 73rd minute, when Bassong challenged substitute Guidetti in the area and fouled him.
It was quite soft but still looked a penalty, another example of Bassong being a shadow of the player he was last season. Guidetti was facing away from goal and I`m not sure that he really needed to make the challenge but it happened and the ref pointed to the spot.
Home fan favourite, Jonathan Walters scored from the spot to level thing s up but lasted just five minutes longer before lunging at Tettey with a knee high challenge, showing his studs.
Andre Marriner reached for his back pocket and showed Walters a red card, who then left the field to a merry song from the City fans.
Ten minutes to go and RvW was replaced by Hooper, and Tettey, who was unable to continue, was replaced by Elmander.
The final ten minutes was a nail biting but dull affair as Stoke shut up shop and City found it impossible to break them down. Bradley Johnson`s late shot went wide and that was it.
Two points dropped, I feel.
A lot of the talk on Canary Call after the game was about RvW and whether or not he is a waste of money.
Darren Eadie said that he feels he can`t really judge Ricky as he is an eighteen yard box player who never gets given a chance. This is all very well but if that is the case, why can`t that be altered?
The wingers don`t ever seem to supply him with a chance and both struggled at times today as the age old problem of right and left sided players on the wrong wing cost us crossing opportunities. It`s not just Ricky – Hooper hasn`t exactly been given loads of chances either so it is clearly a problem with either personnel or tactics.
Redmond had a patchy game. He promises so much but was not consistent enough in his end product today. I think I would be inclined to give Pilkington a go as his delivery and ball choice are more dependable but he is a little more predictable. He does however hit the target more regularly when he shoots.
The bottom line in all this is that we just can`t score enough goals, and as Eadie pointed out – if you are only able to score one goal, then any mistake by a defender that leads to a goal against you is amplified.
We will obviously have to go with what we have until the end of the season but this worrying goal drought has been ongoing ever since Chris Hughton took over. No coincidence, surely?