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Stoke City 2011

There were gusty Footballing conditions in Stoke when the excited Potters fans arrived for Football Aid's first ever game at the impressive Britannia stadium. The players were thrilled to have the chance to pull on their personalised kits and march out of the tunnel to grace the same hallowed turf as their heroes. To add to the excitement the fans were delighted to hear that Potters heroes Denis Smith and Carl Beeston were managing the sides and Wayne Biggins and Andy Cooke were playing legends for this momentous occasion. With the wild cheering and applause from their fans it was certainly a rousing reception and one that would have helped to dispel any last minute nerves.

Thursday 26th May 2011
Stoke City Home vs. Stoke City Away
Kick Off: 18:30pm
Legends: Denis Smith, Carl Beeston, Wayne Biggins and Andy Cooke
Match Officials: Adrian Waters, Mark Mellor, Thomas Mellor and Andy Stevens

The Home team, playing in the famous Red and White stripes, won the toss and got the match started at The Britannia stadium. Managers Denis Smith and Carl Beeston gave direct tactical patterns of plays for both sides to follow and it was shaping up to be a classic.

It was a quick start to the game as both sides wanted to gain early control to this game. Denis Smith's Home side created the first half chance of the game, with Dean Thorpe slotting a pinpoint pass between the Away defence. Captain Craig Millward was through on goal but Jojo Putnam rushed out, pouncing on the ball.

The deadlock was broken 5 mins in by Denis Smith's side. Striker Brian Kennedy held the ball up on half way but a quick turn and through ball sent Thomas Kennedy through on goal. Cooke tracked back well but stood off the No 8 who lifted the ball over the keeper from 30 yards. Great link up play by the family relatives with an excellent opener! (1-0)

Next up Dave Taylor picked up the ball and drove inside before passing to Andy Stovell, defenders Paul Pugh and Steve Swanwick came crunching in and putting the No 11 up in the air earning the striker a free kick on the edge of the box. But the set piece was hit straight at the goalkeeper and came to nothing.

Minutes later Cooke picked the ball up in the right back position and passed the ball to John Porter, the No 7 stepped over the ball leaving the closing Wayne Biggins stranded. The crowd rewarded this bit of skill with a massive cheer and it was certainly a proud moment for Porter!

Both sides were playing some fantastic free flowing football and the end to end game highlighted the passion being shown by both sides. The equalizer duly arrived when Captain Nathan Moore sent the ball far into the left channel towards the impressive Dave Taylor; the No 8 expertly played the ball through the defenders legs (Ole!) and with his next touch curled an unstoppable shot into the far top corner. A truly brilliant equaliser! (1-1)

Shortly after Swanwick had a long range effort but it was comfortably saved by Putnam. Then Stovell collected the ball and played a long ball into the left channel over Taylor's head. Pugh started to slow as the ball was rolling out but out of no where Jimmy Rae came bombing down the line and driving into the box, where he fooled 3 defenders before rolling the ball into Taylor's path, who the dribbled past two defenders himself but the goalkeeper pounced on the ball to snuff out the chance. Moments later Putnam pulled off another save when Stovell found himself through on goal but the No 1 stayed strong, picking up the ball comfortably.

The Red and White army then found themselves through on goal on more than one occasion but unfortunately the linesman kept halting their progress by raising his flag for offside. However they were to take the lead soon afterwards when Irvine played a ball through that shouldn't have come to anything. A mix up between the Away defender and goalkeeper led to the defender receiving the ball and trying to play a pass along to the backline to his right back, however Thomas Kennedy nipped in to intercept and rolled the ball into the net with ease to enable his side to take the lead. (2-1)

Shortly after the Home side came close again, good build up play took them forward and Captain Millward found himself in plenty of space looking to pull the trigger. However he scuffed the ball and toe poked his next attempt, allowing GK Martyn Barnett to push the ball away well. Simon Mason got onto the end of it but the keeper was victorious, pulling off another top save. A corner followed and a free header by Mason should have been nodded in but over the bar it went.

Captain Moore then came close with a left footed strike but it just rose slightly over the cross bar. 2 mins before the half-time whistle a similar opportunity fell to his right foot and this time the excellent effort rattled off the bar. Team-mate Dave Taylor then also had a stinging effort but the shot was straight down the throat of the goalkeeper.

The half-time whistle blew with the Home team on top with the Red and Whites retaining a narrow lead on the score-sheet.

Half-Time: Stoke City Home 2 - 1 Stoke City Away

The Away team must have received a few harsh words at half time from manager Carl Beeston, as they had a lively start to the 2nd half. Both teams made substitutions hoping to have an immediate effect on their teams. The Dark Blues got the second half underway and they had the first opportunity from sub John Denley, but the ball drifted over the bar. Buglass then played the big No 9 in on goal but Mollart pulled his effort past the post. The Red and White stripes were struggling to get out of their own half in this first 5 mins.

The Away team's determination almost paid off with Cooke swinging in a cross to John Denley but the sub's first time volley was somehow tipped away by the goalie. The Defence couldn't clear properly and Moore smashed a shot off the inside of the post which rolled across the face and was finally cleared away by Swanwick. Porter picked up the high clearance, dribbled into the box and won a corner. However with a goal looking likely for the Away side nothing came of the set-piece.

The Away team kept piling on the pressure and Stovell had another chance with a header that glanced past the post. It took the Home side 15 mins to break into the box, but they failed to threaten the goal, with a Biggins cross drifting on to the roof of the net by the wind. Straight afterwards a route one ball from Buglass put Mollart through; he held the ball up well, rolled it back to the No 17 Andrew Denley but from outside the box his shot was just to high and also hit the roof of the net.

Following that effort Moore should perhaps have scored when he had a free shot on goal, however the goalkeeper tipped his effort away. The Home team were delighted their keeper was keeping them in front at this stage. However Home No 1 Martyn Barnett was showing signs of frustration at the amount of efforts that were getting through on target. A long ranger from Porter was saved for a corner and another brilliant save from the corner followed again. You had to think there would only be so many times the goalie could keep his side in the game.

It took 25 mins for the Home side to get a shot on target, however No.17 Ian McNicholas' first time strike was straight at the goalkeeper and posed no real threat. At the other end Jimmy Rae had several dangerous in-swinging corners that were placed on top of the goalkeeper, but his Away side just couldn't convert any of them.

Against all odds it was the Home side that opened the 2nd half scoring with 5 mins left on the clock. Wayne Biggins picked the ball up on half way and off he went on a mazy run, Cooke stepped out and tried to play offside, thinking Biggins was going to pass but he only left the clinical striker with a free run into the box. Putnam came charging off his goal-line but the Away team's legend slotted it comfortably under the keeper to kill the Away side's hopes of a comeback. (3-1)

Moments later a cheeky cross from Mason drifted towards the goalkeeper's near post, however luckily his quick reactions enabled him to tip it round the post. However the goal was to follow soon after when Irvine played in Ian McNicholas whose his shot went under the goalkeeper and across the line for his team's fourth goal. (4-1)

In extra time the Away team finally scored a much deserved goal, Cooke's front post cross met the head of No 11 Andy Stovell who nodded it past the goalie. (4-2)

That ended the scoring in what had been a thrilling game in very difficult rainy and windy weather conditions. However this didn't stop both Potters sides from producing one of the highest standards of Football Aid games in the 2011 season.

Full-Time: Stoke City Home 4 - 2 Stoke City Away

Man of the Match Home: Martyn Barnett
Man of the Match Away:
Nathan Moore
Moment of the Match:
Thomas Kennedy

Home Team: Barnett, Pugh, Wayne Biggins, Swanwick, Robert Thorpe, Irvine, Mason, Thomas Kennedy, Brian Kennedy, Dean Thorpe, Millward, Hughes, Cartwright, McNicholas.

Manager: Denis Smith

Mascot: Thomas Hodkinson

Away Team: Putnam, Andy Cooke, Rae, Jones, Buglass, Foott, Porter, Taylor, Mollart, Moore, Stovell, Denley, Donald.

Manager: Carl Beeston

Mascot: Molly Porter