BLACKBURN ROVERS 1 (Hanley penalty)
STOKE CITY 1 (Alabi)
STOKE CITY's Under-21s came away with a credible draw from their trip to Blackburn Rovers on Monday night.
The Potters, who included first team player Jamie Ness in their starting eleven, made the early running but were unable to find a breakthrough in an entertaining first half.
Striker James Alabi could only hit the roof of the net with an early shot before Adam Thomas saw his near post effort turned away by David Raya in the Rovers goal.
Stoke continued to dominate and almost took the lead midway through the first half when Alabi moved from left to right and unleashed a shot which Raya was equal to.
Moments later City were indebted to goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann who first denied Hugo Fernandez after a fine free-flowing move before reacting well to save Lee Williamson’s free-kick.
Blackburn went into the break on top as both Fernandez and Dean Rittenburg had efforts blocked by the Stoke rearguard.
Rovers continued where they left off in the second half as Rittenburg went close but once again Bachmann was on hand to deny the forward, but moments later the hosts had the opportunity to take the lead.
After a high ball was well controlled by Raheem Hanley inside the penalty area, the ball bounced up and struck the arm of Elliot Wheeler, leaving the referee with no alternative but point to the spot.
Hanley took responsibility of the penalty and coolly slotted into the corner with Bachmann diving in the opposite direction.
Blackburn went in search of a second and almost got it but Lee Williamson’s long-range strike was well saved.
Stoke started to come back into the contest. Alabi went close after evading the offside trap but his effort was pushed away to safety, before Charlie Ward tried his luck from distance only to see his shot fly just over.
It wasn’t long before the Potters equalised on 68 minutes when Adam Thomas sent a dangerous ball into the box which Alabi headed home from close range.
Rovers almost retook the lead but Bachmann was quick off his line to avert the danger as Davarn Green bore down on goal.
With the game entering the final stages, both teams had chances to win it. Blackburn went close through Rittenburg, whilst George Waring went close with a powerful header which flew over the crossbar.
Stoke almost snatched all three points in the dying moments when Aaron Tumwa sliced horribly but Jamie Ness couldn’t capitalise and fired wide from close-range.
STOKE CITY: Bachmann, Wheeler, Gomez, Ward, Grant, Keane, Thomas (Dawson 90), Ness, Waring, Zapata-Caicedo (Rossi 58), Alabi. Subs (not used): Watkins-Clark, Eve, Heneghan.