Crucial 3 points for Stoke City in 2-0 victory against managerless Birmingham

The Potters took a major step towards Championship safety by dismissing managerless Birmingham in a similar performance to the Barnsley home game. City really look like a side that can only perform at home (particularly after the 0-5 debacle at Leeds last Thursday). Two first half goals bled the life out of Birmingham, and that was enough. Here was how the vampiric Stoke’s game unfolded in real time:
As-important-a-game-as…well, any relegation game you can think of. Reading 2003? Stoke’s remaining games are against Bristol (chasing playoffs), Brentford (chasing direct-promotion) and Forest (needing to assure playoff spot). With bloomin’ Nathan Jones’ Luton on our tail, Stoke know it’s win at all costs today. But which Stoke City will turn up today? Weird spooky music swirling around the stand before kickoff, probably recognising the absence of Jack (neck injury) with Adam Davies in as keeper…and Sam Clucas as captain. And, oh look, Scott Hogan starts up front for managerless Birmingham. What could possibly go wrong…?
2.30 Hogan (ex Nathan player) takes a feeble free-kick that even Davies turns his nose up at.
4.35 Ref plays on as Powell & Tyrese crumple in a heap. Poor tackles, ref wrong to not stop action. More shocking is that McClean playing without a hairband!
5.25 Vokes header hits bar, from a Powell cross from the right. Intent.
7.11 Curling Powell shot brings out decent save from Lee Camp for a corner. It’s Camp who needs the hairband. Dear-oh-dear.
11.28 1-0 !!! Batth slides in at the back post, and the ball goes in off Camp. Sky accredits the goal to Vokes, who was the one distracting everyone, and being fouled in the process. If it hadn’t of gone in, would the ref have given a penalty? Cross from Powell after a quick corner on the right.
16.04 Tommy Smith makes great tackle to prevent a cross, but then remarkably saves it going for a corner. Making up for that dreadful penalty at Leeds.
25.25 Roberts is taking ages to take a long throw…and then goes short. What a disappointment, thinks Rory Delap on the sidelines.
28.48 After McClean’s shot is turned away for a corner, Campbell’s shot is blocked. It’s the same move as the Barnsley goal, only much more confused.
32.10 Powell is clattered AGAIN. Two yellow cards for two fouls on Powell. Targeted.
34.22 Great save by Davies, although he made it look easy – right place right time.
35.12 McClean clips top of bar. James’ haircut & no hairband is really working!
38.20 Davies diving at Hogan’s feet. Brave.
44.12 2-0 !! Captain Clucas floats the ball into the corner! Beautiful! One to remember! Sam is back!
45+2 Powell AGAIN flattened by Gardner.
45+4 Chester almost pokes in an own-goal. Boy, would he be incinerated at half-time by MON!
HT Stoke 2 Managerless Brum 0
49.20 Bela is a lively sub, but his elbow of Clucas in the face is not pleasant. Birmingham have 3 players on yellow cards, and a red isn’t too far away.
64.01 Ince replaces the tired Tyrese. It’s McClean who has to be careful, picking up a yellow card.
66.35 Bela’s shot goes wide, but ref sees a deflection that wasn’t there. Corner.
68.30 Davies getting a battering now as the corners rain in. Chester makes a clever header to concede a corner in a dangerous situation, but Powell then gets his regular clattering, collapsing in the back of his own net.
72.12 Linesman’s foot keeps ball in play, but he still gives Stoke a throw-in. Nice bloke.
74.55 Battered & bruised Powell is finally relieved as he and Vokes are replaced by Jordan Thompson & Lee Gregory. Powell immediately gets an ice pack on his left thigh. Might he be rested at Bristol?
80.20 Camp tries punching a corner clear, but his hair is obviously in the way. Somehow he gets away with it.
83.28 As Jordan Cousins clumsily loses the ball, Tom Ince of all people charges in and wins the ball! If only he could have done that every week.
90+2 Is sub Nathan Collins actually going to get on to the pitch…? He’s ready to go…
Final Score: Stoke with MON 2 Birmingham with no manager 0