THERE WAS plenty of late drama in Stoke City’s Barclays Premier League encounters during the month of February . . . some of it good, some of it not so good.
It was a quiet month which featured only three games; a narrow win over Reading sandwiched in between two trips to the capital which proved to be fruitless despite displays that deserved more.
There was heartache for the Potters when they took on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium as they slipped to a defeat that was harsh to say the very least.
Substitute Lukas Podolski grabbed the only goal of the game eleven minutes from time to dent City’s hopes of claiming a deserved point after producing their best performance in North London since winning promotion in 2008.
Podolski’s relatively tame free-kick from 25 yardstook a wicked deflection off the leg of American Geoff Cameron, before nestling in the bottom corner of the net.
While we relied on Asmir Begovic during the first half to keep the Gunners at bay, we had chances too, with Ryan Shawcross and Peter Crouch both spurning decent opportunities.
It was a late goal for ourselves a week later which ended the search for a first Premier League win of 2013 at the expense of Reading.
Substitute Cameron Jerome’s 81st minute strike gave us a two-goal cushion at the Britannia Stadium after Robert Huth had broken the deadlock earlier in the second half by heading home his first goal of the season from a corner.
But some anxious moments had to be survived in the closing stages after Adrian Mariappa produced a neat near-post finish to reduce the deficit seven minutes from time.
We had reason to feel aggrieved after slipping to a 1-0 defeat against Fulham at Craven Cottage in front of the live TV cameras.
Dimitar Berbatov marked his 200th Premier League appearance with an exquisite volley deep in first half stoppage time and although that proved to be the only goal of the game, it wasn’t the only decisive moment.
Jonathan Walters spurned the opportunity to earn Stoke a valuable draw from the penalty spot in the second half afterAshkan Dejagah had been penalised for handling as debutant Brek Shea tried to flick the ball past him in the area.
Walters stepped up take the spot-kick and fired it low to Mark Schwarzer’s right, but the Australian goalkeeper got down smartly to get his hands firmly behind it and dash Stoke’s hopes of claiming any reward from their trip to West London.
To make matters worse Robert Huth was subsequently charged by the FA with violent conduct following an incident withdefender Philippe Senderos.
The clash wasn’t seen by the match officials, but was captured on video; the German accepted the charge and began a three-match ban.
However, there was a positive to emerge from the game at Craven Cottage as Marc Wilson returned to first team action for the first time since suffering a broken leg and dislocated ankle in October.
Off the field, the Club received confirmation from the local authorities that their planning application for the development of the south east corner of the Britannia Stadium had been given approval, meaning that everything was now in place for an appropriate time when we decide to raise the capacity to 30,000 with an additional 1,800 seats.