STOKE CITY 0
A STOKE CITY XI recorded a hard-fought goalless draw against Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday afternoon as they continued their preparations for the start of the 2014/15 Premier League season.
The League Two side provided stern opposition on a mild afternoon in East Staffordshire with both sides having good opportunities to get themselves on the scoresheet throughout the contest.
The Potters came closest to breaking the deadlock through Ryan Shotton who struck the woodwork in the second half, whilst Lucas Akins did likewise inside the opening period.
Mark Hughes had named a strong line-up against the Brewers which included both Geoff Cameron and Peter Odemwingie who were handed their first starts of pre-season after returning from an extended break following the World Cup Finals and it was the latter who almost laid on the opener inside the first three minutes.
The Nigerian international played a superb throughball for Cameron Jerome to run onto and round the goalkeeper, but after scoring a hat-trick in midweek against Congleton Town, the frontman saw his effort from an acute angle cleared off the line by the Burton captain Ian Sharps.
The former Birmingham City frontman was once more in the thick of the action moments later when he fired an effort wide after the ball had sat up nicely, before Sharps headed Burton's first chance two yards wide of the far post following a delightful ball into the box from Callum McFadzean.
It was the start of a more sustained period of pressure on the Stoke defence and Dionatan Teixeira had to be alert to put in a last-ditch challenge on Dominic Knowles with the attacker about to fire towards goal from 10 yards.
Burton continued to create and the home faithful thought their side had taken the lead moments later when Akins cut in from the right and curled an effort towards the bottom corner but the ball hit the post and rolled across the face of goal before being cleared away to safety by Elliot Wheeler.
Jack Butland, who started in between the sticks for the Potters, then fumbled a tame effort from Akins behind for a corner midway through the half but he was at his acrobatic best to thwart Adam McGurk from point blank range seconds later with Albion on top.
City finally started to peg Gary Rowett's side back into their own half towards the end of the first period and almost opened the scoring on 40 minutes but were denied by the offside flag as Steve Sidwell applied the finish after fine approach play through the middle.
As the half-time whistle loomed Cameron then saw his header from Jamie Ness' corner expertly saved by Jon McLaughlin before Teixeira planted a tame header into the 'keeper's hands as the Potters finished the stronger of the two teams.
Odemwingie and Cameron were both replaced at the interval by Hughes as the Welshman looked to protect the pair following their exploits in Brazil last month, but the pendulum swung back in Albion's favour with Akins and Robbie Weir both testing Butland's handwork with long-range efforts.
City were soon back in their stride however when Jerome headed just off target following a deep right-wing cross from Shotton, before provider almost turned to goalscorer when the Fenton-born defender rattled the crossbar from eight yards following Wheeler's ball into the box.
With an hour on the clock Hughes decided to make his third substitution of the afternoon by handing 16-year-old midfielder Oliver Shenton his first appearance for the first team in place of Wilson Palacios and the youngster looked comfortable when slotted into midfield alongside Ness and Sidwell.
As the second period continued to tick by it was the Potters who looked the more likely to make the breakthrough and Jerome wasted a good opportunity from a 20-yard free-kick by screwing his powerful effort well wide of the target.
Substitute James Alabi saw weak penalty appeals turned down by the referee as the game headed into the final 10 minutes of the encounter despite the striker's obvious protestations before Shenton almost grabbed a winner in the dying moments when the ball was half cleared to the youngster but his volley goalwards was cleared off the line by Sharps.
STOKE CITY: Butland, Shotton, Teixeira, Cameron (c) (Watkins 45), Wheeler, Odemwingie (Alabi 45), Palacios (Shenton 60), Sidwell, Ness, Shea, Jerome. Unused: Eve, Ward, Taylor.