16:55 16th July 2016
City defeated in opening pre-season fixture...
BURTON ALBION 3 (O'Gray 2, Akins)
STOKE CITY 0
STOKE CITY'S opening game of the pre-season campaign ended in defeat against Staffordshire neighbours Burton Albion.
A second half brace from Chris O'Gray and a late strike by Lucas Akins consigned Mark Hughes' men to a 3-0 reverse at the Pirelli Stadium.
However, there were positives to emerge from the trip down the A50 as Glen Johnson, Jack Butland and Marc Wilson made successful returns from long-term injury lay-offs, while no fewer than 20 players were given a run-out.
Butland, Johnson and Wilson were handed starts but skipper Ryan Shawcross was rested as a precaution after complaining of stiffness in his back.
Hughes also handed young midfielder Eddy Lecygne a chance to impress against a Burton side preparing for their first ever season in the Championship.
Johnson was heavily involved as Stoke created their first opening of the game after just nine minutes. The former England man, playing as a wing back, powered into the Albion area before laying off for Joselu who lashed wide from 12 yards out.
City should have broken the deadlock in the 17th minute but Philipp Wollscheid's header from an Erik Pieters free-kick was smothered by home goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin.
Butland was asked to make his first save of the game midway through the first half but he dealt with Ben Fox’s low drive in routine fashion.
Joselu thought he had broken the deadlock shortly before half-time when he fired past McLaughlin but his effort was ruled out for offside - a decision that looked dubious to say the least.
Hughes made two changes at the break with Phil Bardsley and Jacob Haugaard replacing Wilson and Butland respectively.
Haugaard had only been on the pitch for less than three minutes when his mistake led to Nigel Clough's Albion taking the lead. He failed to hold a corner from the left and Chris O'Grady was on hand to bundle the ball home.
City looked to respond to that setback but Albion's substitute goalkeeper Stephen Bywater was more than a match for Joselu's downward header from Bardsley's ball in from the right – as well as Bojan’s angled drive a few moments later.
They should have levelled matters on 54 as Joselu pulled the ball back for Giannelli Imbula but the record £18.3million signing sent his left-footed shot high over the bar from 12 yards out.
Burton doubled their advantage four minutes later as O'Grady headed past Haugaard from an unmarked position six yards out.
The Potters introduced youngsters Julian N'Goy, George Waring and Ollie Shenton to the action just after the hour mark – with Bojan, Joselu and Imbula making way – and they were joined soon afterwards by Choulay, Dominic Telford and Sergio Molina who replaced Johnson, Charlie Adam and Erik Pieters.
It was Burton who came closest to adding to the scoring 17 minutes from time. O'Grady provided the opening for Akins but Haugaard parried his fiercely struck shot for a corner.
Liam Edwards replaced captain for the day Marc Muniesa with little more than 10 minutes remaining, while Joel Taylor replaced Wollscheid with four minutes to go as Hughes maximised the opportunity to give as many players as possible a taste of match action so early in pre-season.
Burton had the last laugh, however, as Akins bagged their third in the 87th minute as he fired past Haugaard from the edge of the area after good work by Marcus Harness.
BURTON ALBION (First Half): McLaughlin, Edwards, McCrory, Naylor, McFadzean, Turner, Fox, Davies, Beavon, Palmer, Tabb.
BURTON ALBION (Second Half): Bywater, Tanner, Irvine, McCrory, Mousinho, Harness, Delaney, Flanagan, Akins, Butcher, O'Grady.
STOKE CITY: Butland (Haugaard 46); Johnson (Molina 72), Wilson (Bardsley 46), Wollscheid (Taylor 86), Muniesa (Edwards 78), Pieters (Moha 72); Lecygne, Adam (Telford 72), Imbula (Shenton 64); Bojan (N'Goy 64), Joselu (Waring 64).