16:51 23rd July 2016
Report and talking points from Saturday's pre-season friendly...
PRESTON NORTH END 1 (Johnson 8)
STOKE CITY 1 (Diouf 54)
STOKE CITY continued their preparations for the forthcoming 2016/17 Premier League campaign with a 1-1 draw against Preston North End at Deepdale.
Mame Diouf stepped off the bench at the interval and made an almost immediate impact as he rifled home a clinically taken leveller in the 54th minute.
The Championship side were in front at the break courtesy of midfielder Daniel Johnson’s fortuitous eighth minute strike, which deflected off Marc Muniesa, leaving Jack Butland helpless.
Both sides had opportunities throughout the encounter with Joselu seeing an early goal ruled out for offside whilst Marko Arnautovic clipped a couple of efforts the wrong side of the post after linking up well with Bojan.
Paul Huntington very nearly doubled the home side’s advantage right on the half-time whistle however with a header which clipped the outside of the post.
Bojan rattled the same part of the woodwork straight after the break after displaying sublime control and footwork to forge an opening for himself inside the penalty area.
At the other end England international Butland produced a stunning save to deny Joe Garner’s diving header, having made another good save earlier in the afternoon from the striker’s audacious attempt from50-yards.
Crouch, who made an impact upon his second half arrival, twice went close himself with powerful headers before the game drew to its conclusion moments after Diouf very nearly won it for the visitors with a rasping effort that flew just over the bar.
Stoke City: Butland; Johnson (Bardsley, 65), Shawcross (c) (Ngoy, 46), Wollscheid, Muniesa, Pieters (Taylor, 80); Adam, Imbula (Lecygne, 75) ; Bojan (Shenton, 65), Arnautovic (Diouf, 46); Joselu (Crouch, 46). Subs: Haugaard, Edwards, Waring, Telford.
RETURNING PAIR COME THROUGH 45 MINUTES.
Marko Arnautovic and skipper Ryan Shawcross both came through 45 minutes of action upon their return to first-team football.
Arnautovic, who featured for Austria at this summer’s European Championships, wasn’t expected to return to pre-season training until tomorrow’s trip to the United States.
However, he returned to training earlier this week and was deemed fit enough to taste his first action at Deepdale, and he looked in fine fettle, twice going close to netting during the first period.
Shawcross, meanwhile, missed out on last weekend’s defeat at Burton Albion after sustaining a stiff back during the six-day training camp in Austria.
But he overcame that niggle in time to start against Preston and came through 45 minutes of action unscathed, which will have come as a relief to boss Mark Hughes.
For the second successive pre-season fixture Mark Hughes lined up three central defenders in his starting eleven.
The Welshman, who hasn’t previously played with three at the back during his tenure in charge at the bet365 Stadium, deployed Philipp Wollscheid, Ryan Shawcross and Marc Muniesa in those positions.
Glen Johnson and Erik Pieters started in the wing back roles with Charlie Adam and Giannelli Imbula sitting in defensive midfield roles.
Marko Arnautovic, Joselu and Bojan were the three to start up front with the trio often rotating between positions on the left, right and centre.
The second half heralded a change meanwhile, with the Potters boss reverting back to his usual 4-2-3-1 formation.
The withdrawals of Joselu, Marko Arnautovic and Ryan Shawcross at the interval paved the way for Mame Diouf, Peter Crouch and Julian Ngoy.
Diouf, who netted within 10 minutes of his introduction, occupied the right wing spot, Bojan continued in the hole with Ngoy on the left. Crouch was the lone striker.
It will be interesting to see what the gaffer goes with in the next friendly encounter in the United States on Wednesday evening.
NEXT STOP, ORLANDO!
The Potters head to Orlando, Florida, on Sunday morning for a 10 day stay in the United States.
A match against MLS side Orlando City has already been pencilled in for Wednesday night, in Melbourne, whilst there is also the possibility of a second Stateside friendly being arranged.
The squad, who will be joined by Xherdan Shaqiri, Jonathan Walters, Glenn Whelan, Shay Given and Geoff Cameron in the USA will return back to the UK on Wednesday week.
They then jet out to Germany for their final pre-season fixture against Bundesliga side Hamburg on Saturday, 6 August.