23:41 20th July 2014
Crouch on target in Germany as Potters hold Europa League hopefuls to a 1-1 draw.
BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH 1 (Hazard)
STOKE CITY 1 (Crouch)
STOKE CITY’S preparations for the new campaign got off to a more than satisfactory start on Sunday as they held Europa League side Borussia Monchengladbach to a 1-1 in Southern Germany.
Treacherous weather conditions has initially appeared to have thrown the game into doubt with heavy rain and thunder and lightning moving in from the mountains, but play did thankfully commence, albeit 20 minutes after the advertised kick-off time.
Mark Hughes' side were rewarded for their pleasing showing thanks to former England international Peter Crouch's second half strike.
The Bundesliga outfit, who ended the 2013/14 season in sixth place, had taken the lead minutes after the half-time interval courtesy of Belgian starlet Thorgan Hazard – the brother of Chelsea star Eden.
The Potters were fully deserving of a share of the spoils however, having gone close to breaking the deadlock on numerous occasions during the opening 45 minutes.
Senegalese star Mame Biram Diouf, who made his first appearance for the Club alongside fellow new boys Steve Sidwell, Phil Bardsley and Dionatan Teixeira, went close to netting on his first start after being fed through by Ryan Shotton.
The powerful frontman latched on to Shotton's intelligent pass having outpaced his opponent, but was unable to get the better of the fast approaching ‘keeper who got down well to deny him.
Marko Arnautovic had several opportunities of his own to open the account, but having initially done well to forge space for himself, his efforts at goal were tame leaving 'keeper Christopher Heimeroth largely untroubled.
Shotton, playing out in a relatively unfamiliar wide right position, produced a sublime centre midway through the half, but agonisingly for teammate Diouf, Monchengladbach defender Mahmoud Dahoud glanced the ball away from him just as he looked set to pounce.
City did eventually have the ball in the back of the net shortly after the 30 minute mark, but having appeared to have leaped legitimately, Shawcross was adjudged to have manhandled an opponent prior to powering Arnautovic’s corner home.
The final moments of the half were undoubtedly controlled by the Germans with Guinea international Ibrahima Traore firing an effort just wide of Jack Butland’s goal, before Max Kruse curled a ferocious effort off the post from 18-yards.
Both managers opted to make significant changes during the break with Hughes switching his entire elven.
That disruption played a determining factor in the Bundesliga outfit taking the lead as a defensive mix-up amongst the City ranks allowed Hazard to march through on goal and dispatch past Thomas Sorensen just 60 seconds in.
At the other end Charlie Adam very nearly drew his side level with a curling effort that dropped just over, before Crouch flicked Erik Pieters' driven ball across goal inches wide of the ‘keepers right hand post from 5-yards.
There was no denying the experienced striker 15 minutes later though when he was presented with arguably the easiest goal of his career by the unselfish Jonathan Walters, who after beating the last defender opted to tee Crouch up in front of goal rather than going for glory himself.
Both Stoke and Monchengladbach had late opportunities to steal the victory, with the German's going closest right at the death when a deflected effort appeared to be destined for the bottom corner, before Sorensen produced the save of the match to flick the ball onto the bar.
Stoke City (First Half): Butland; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Wilson, Muniesa; Shotton, Ness, Nzonzi, Ireland, Arnautovic; Diouf.
Stoke City (Second Half): Sorensen; Bardsley, Huth, Teixeira, Pieters; Walters, Whelan, Sidwell, Adam, Shea; Crouch.