ORLANDO CITY 1 (Barry 55)
STOKE CITY 2 (Diouf 48, Bojan 64)
STOKE CITY bagged their first win of pre-season as they overcame Orlando City – as well as the sweltering Florida heat – at the Titan Sports Complex in Melbourne.
The Potters ran out 2-1 winners, courtesy of second half goals from Mame Diouf and Bojan either side of a Hadji Barry strike for the hosts.
Bojan’s match-winner was the pick of the goals – a delicious strike from outside the area that was worthy of settling any game.
A large contingent of Stoke fans were among the capacity crowd of 3,742 in the coastal town of Melbourne situated just over 70 miles from the Potters’ Orlando base for their 10-day stay in the United States.
They witnessed their side make a bright start. Marko Arnautovic, fresh from signing a new four-year contract earlier in the day, tore through the Orlando defence before looking to find the onrushing Glen Johnson but home ‘keeper Earl Edwards was quickly off his line to collect at the feet of the former England man.
Jack Butland passed his first examination – in the fifth minute – as Carlos Rivas tried his luck with a free-kick from 25 yards out.
Johnson, operating as a right wing back, found himself in space in the area again in the 11th minute but his shot was charged down.
Ex-Potter Brek Shea went close to breaking the deadlock in the 15th minute but his rasping his shot flew narrowly over.
Excellent approach play by Erik Pieters, Arnautovic and Bojan sent Johnson scampering clear down the right-hand side but his low cross was dealt with comfortably by Edwards.
The Potters’ best chance of the half fell to an unlikely goal threat in the form of Marc Muniesa. He timed his run into the area to perfection to meet Bojan’s cross from the right but somehow Seb Hines managed to block his thunderously struck half-volley.
Mame Diouf found himself on the receiving end of a harsh yellow card five minutes before the break after colliding with Kevin Alston.
Diouf made a far more significant contribution to the game three minutes into the second half as he gave the visitors the lead.
Bojan sent Johnson away down the right-hand side and when he fired in a low cross, Diouf supplied the finish – albeit at the second attempt.
Orlando looked to respond almost immediately. Richie Laryea, one of a host of players introduced to the action at half-time by new coach Jason Kreis, sent over a cross from the left and Rivas was just inches away from levelling matters.
The home side did pull level in the 55th minute as Barry converted from close range from Servando Carrasco’s quickly-taken free-kick.
Philipp Wollscheid went into the referee’s book on the hour mark after he appeared to catch Laryea with a flailing arm.
A moment of magic from Bojan restored the visitors’ lead midway through the second half as he curled a left-footed shot beyond the reach of Edwards from 25 yards out.
It proved to be Bojan’s last contribution as Mark Hughes rang the changes before play re-started with the Spaniard being joined on the bench by Johnson and Diouf with Joselu, Peter Crouch and Phil Bardsley joining the action.
Bardsley almost immediately went into the book for a clumsy challenge, while young midfielder Eddy Lecygne was handed another chance to impress with an 18-minute run as a substitute for Arnautovic.
Muniesa was just inches away from getting on the end of a teasing cross from the right by Adam, while his fellow countryman Joselu was denied by the home ‘keeper as the visitors looked to extend their advantage.
ORLANDO CITY: Edwards, Boden (Ambrose 46), Mateos (Aja 46), Hines (Donovan 46), Alston (Garcia 46), Higuita (Carrasco 46), Ceren (Nocerino 46), Shea (Barry 46), Rocha (Mendoza 66), Molino (Laryea 46), Rivas (Smith 66). Unused: Ridgers, Matarazzo.
STOKE CITY: Butland; Johnson (Bardsey 65), Shawcross, Wollscheid, Muniesa, Pieters; Imbula (Shenton 83), Adam; Bojan (Joselu 65), Arnautovic (Lecygne 72); Diouf (Crouch 65). Unused: Haugaard, N'Goy, Waring, Taylor.