STOKE CITY signed off the 2018/19 campaign with an entertaining draw against Premier League-bound Sheffield United at the bet365 Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Goals from the impressive Sam Vokes and Ryan Shawcross twice had the home side in front against the Blades, although they fought back on each occasion to ensure a share of the spoils.
Welsh international Vokes drew first blood with a scintillating volley midway through the first half - lashing home an unstoppable effort from 20-yards after superbly bringing the ball down on his chest.
The home side dominated long periods of the first 45 but were pegged back almost immediately after the interval when substitute Kieren Dowell rifled home from eight-yards just a couple of minutes after being introduced.
Nathan Jones’ men continued to press forward however, and were rewarded for their endeavours when Shawcross slammed Tom Ince’s in-swinging centre into the back of the net with just over 20 minutes remaining.
However, the Blades managed to fashion yet another equaliser seven minutes later courtesy of Enda Stevens, whose drive down the left was topped off with a superb strike into the far corner.
There was very nearly a fairy tale ending when substitute Charlie Adam, making his final outing in Potters red, let rip a thumping long-range strike, only for defender Jack O’Connell to bravely block his seemingly goal-bound strike.
It proved to be the final opportunity for the home side to secure what would have been a deserved victory, having gone close on numerous occasions to have added to their tally throughout the afternoon.
Ince went agonisingly close to netting with the scoreline at 1-0 when his vicious strike cannoned the inside of the post, whilst Vokes, a constant menace up top, fired just over from 12-yards after being picked out by James McClean.
City didn’t have it all their own way though and had it not been for some outstanding defending from Shawcross, and a little bit of luck, then United could have been on target for a third time.
Thankfully, Shawcross managed to divert Billy Sharp’s strike off the line with a combination of his shoulder and chest, much to the disbelief of lifelong United fan, who was looking to add to his 24 goals this term.
As the encounter drew towards its conclusion, neither side through caution to the wind as they chased a fifth and decisive goal of the day.
Benik Afobe, another late introduction from the substitutes bench, linked up well with McClean and Bojan, but wasn’t able to beat Dean Henderson, whilst Jack Butland made two hugely important saves of his own to preserve the point his side had earned.