STOKE CITY were pegged back by a late equaliser for the second successive pre-season game as they had to be content with a draw against Torquay United at Plainmoor.
Substitute Billy Bodin fired home the late leveller for the League Two side after an Aaron Downes own goal had given Tony Pulis’ side the lead shortly before half-time.
Downes turned the ball into his own net after winger Matthew Etherington fired a volley goalbound from 18 yards, one of many chances created by City in the first half.
But Torquay had their moments too and after Pulis had changed virtually his entire line-up in the second half, Bodin grabbed the equaliser twelve minutes from time to deny the Potters a win in the closing stages of a game they had dominated, just as had been the case against Sporting Kansas City in the final game in the States last Wednesday.
The major surprise in the Potters’ line-up was the appearance of Polish international Sebastian Boenisch, who became a free agent during the summer following his release by Werder Bremen.
He took his place at left back in a back four that saw Shawcross declared fit after a knee problem forced him off at half-time during the game against Sporting Kansas City.
Although the game on the south coast kicked off in pleasant evening sunshine, the cool blustery conditions were a contrast to the intense heat of Kansas City five days earlier.
Boenisch showed some neat touches in the early stages as Torquay began the game with plenty of energy and drive; Mansell going close with a long range shot in the fifth minute.
City’s first chance came when Etherington lifted the ball into the area and it found Shotton at the far post, but the ball wouldn’t come down for him to get in a telling shot at goal.
There was a scare for the Potters when Mansell tried his luck once again from fully 25 yards out, but Sorensen at full stretch was equal to it as he moved smartly to his left.
City should have gone in front in the 21st minute when a penentrating run from Etherington opened up the Torquay defence and his cross fell to Crouch on the edge of the six yard box, but he got his angles horribly wrong with his first time shot on the half volley.
After having to soak up some early pressure from the home side, the Potters were now carving out some clearcut opportunities and Shotton was given the time and space to line up a shot at goal after he latched onto a knockdown from Crouch, but his effort was blocked.
Etherington caused more problems for the Torquay defence with another burst down the left hand side but his cross was cleared with Crouch hovering at the far post.
It was not surprising that the breakthrough eventually came two minutes before the break when Shotton lifted the ball into the box where Etherington met it firmly on the volley and his shot appeared to take a deflection off Downes on its route into the far corner.
Pulis made a couple of changes at the break with Jones and Jerome forming a new strike partnership as straight replacements for Crouch and Walters.
The half was only a few minutes old when Whitehead and Ness also joined the action as they introduced in place of Whelan and Etherington.
Within seconds of their introduction, City went close to stretching their lead as Ness delivered a cross from the right and Jerome racing in head just wide.
The Potters then had the ball in the net when Whitehead swung over a free kick from a similar position, but the referee blew for offside as Jerome applied the finishing touch with his head at the far post to send his effort across the diving Poke.
The pressure on the Torquay goal was sustained as Whitehead released Jerome on a burst down the right but his low cross just evaded the incoming Ness.
The next series of changes saw Nash given his first pre-season action in place of Sorensen, while Sidibe, Wilkinson, Higginbotham, Arismendi and Tonge all sent on for the closing stages with tomorrow evening’s game at Yeovil in mind.
Torquay had a good chance to draw level midway through the half when Higginbotham upended Bodin in full flight and from the resulting free kick swung in by Mansell, Howe escaped his marker to rise and send his header over the bar.
The home side gained encouragement from that and when substitute Bodin tried a shot from the edge of the box, it was deflected just wide of the target.
The warning signs were there and it was Bodin who snatched the equaliser twelve minutes from time when he unleashed another powerful drive from the edge of the box and it flew past Nash much to the delight of the home supporters.