Home »  Sport

Pulis draws no comfort from stalemate

Sunday, 28 October 2012 - 3:26pm IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
The clue was in the statistics. On paper, there had been nothing to separate Stoke City and Sunderland before this game and so, too, it proved on the pitch as the division's draw specialists served up a stalemate.

Stoke 0 Sunderland 0

The clue was in the statistics. On paper, there had been nothing to separate Stoke City and Sunderland before this game and so, too, it proved on the pitch as the division's draw specialists served up a stalemate. It left the teams level on nine points apiece, separated by a solitary goal, having both drawn six games.

The outcome, then, came as scant surprise. The undisputed man of the match, though, was Sunderland's Simon Mignolet, who made a clutch of saves late on to frustrate the Potters - a reflex save to repel Robert Huth's bullet header the pick of them.

"I thought the keeper played really well, but we needed a break," Stoke manager Tony Pulis said. "It was always going to be a tight game, Sunderland are a good side and we don't look down our noses at them. But I think only one team was going to win the game and that was us."

The biggest concern for both Pulis and counterpart Martin O'Neill will be their over-reliance on one individual. Steven Fletcher is still the only Black Cats player to score in the league this term and Peter Crouch is Stoke's sole top-flight goalscorer on home soil.

"It was a difficult game played in difficult conditions. Eventually a point away from home isn't too bad," O'Neill said. "We have drawn a lot of games, we have just been unable to turn them into victories."

Michael Kightly saw a curling effort cleared off the line by Carlos Cuellar who, at the opposite end, saw a glancing header flash past the post from Seb Larsson's pass.

Stoke were dealt a blow when Marc Wilson was forced off after appearing to strain his knee stretching for the ball, with Pulis confirming afterwards the player was taken to hospital but that he was still awaiting firm news.

The game improved marginally in the final quarter. Stephane Sessegnon squared to Fletcher, but the Scot's curling effort was blocked by Huth's hand.

It was a rare moment of controversy. "I thought that if it had been given against us I might have been none too pleased," O'Neill said. "If it misses him it's in the net, that's the thing. But I don't think it was deliberate."

Mignolet, 24, emphasised his importance again to Sunderland's cause when he demonstrated superb reflexes to keep out Huth's thumping header from Kightly's free kick. It was Stoke's best chance. "The goalkeeper made a good save," O'Neill said. "Simon has been fantastic for us this year. He has age on his side and really should be a fine goalkeeper."

Huth and Crouch were still to be denied again by Mignolet and not even eight minutes of added time could provide a goal. Considering the statistics, it was hardly surprising.

 


Jump to comments