Gary Rowett's men beaten for the first time in pre-season against Bundesliga II side...
STOKE CITY suffered their first pre-season friendly defeat on Wednesday evening as VfL Bochum ran out 2-0 victors in Northern Germany.
The Potters had previously overcome Macclesfield Town and Walsall prior to their trip out on the continent, but were undone by the German side who reported back for training a week earlier than Gary Rowett’s men.
In fact, the encounter at Eintracht Rheine’s OBI Arena was their fifth warm-up fixture already, and that showed as they edged the Potters in both the fitness and sharpness stakes.
That said, City could have been ahead before Vitaly Janelt opened the scoring midway through the first-half with both Bojan and substitute Giannelli Imbula lashing decent opportunities over the bar.
Imbula, who replaced Charlie Adam after just three minutes, impressed with his neat footwork in central midfield alongside the more energetic and industrious pairing of Geoff Cameron and Joe Allen.
Janelt’s opener in the 24th minute had in truth been coming, with Adam Federici having already made several good saves to keep the second-tier German outfit, who gre into the game as the half wore on, at bay.
He had no chance with Janelt’s strike however, with the defensive midfielder lashing home an unstoppable half volley from 12-yards following some neat interchange between three Bochum players.
At the other end City huffed and puffed in a bid to draw themselves level but failed to seriously test the resolve of Manuel Riemann, who was forced into his first real meaningful save when Maxim Choupo-Moting shot tamely at him from 12-yards in the 40th minute.
Stoke certainly ended the opening period the stronger of the two sides but fell further behind right on the stroke of half-time when Janelt produced a moment of magic to weave between Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi, before dispatching a cool finish beyond the helpless Federici.
The second half began with the Potters making just the one change, with United States international Cameron, who had featured for the first time in pre-season, being replaced by Danish youngster Lasse Sorensen.
The dynamic of the game followed suit with the first-half in all honesty as Rowett’s men looked calm and assured on the ball, but struggled to really worry the Bochum backline, who were dealing with the majority of the questions posed to them.
There was a decent penalty shout for City on the hour mark when Bojan appeared to have been fouled inside the 18-yard box, although the referee was having none of it and waved away the Spaniard’s claims.
Rowett suggested pre-match that he would look to give his starting players additional minutes in this fixture, and stuck to his word as he handed them 70 minutes of playing time before making wholesale changes for the final 20.
One of the players to be introduced was Nigerian international Peter Etebo, who had made a major impact for his country in their brave and determined showing at this summer’s World Cup Finals out in Russia.
The turnover in players didn’t affect the Potters’ momentum in the second period though, as they continued to show composure on the ball and nearly halved the deficit when Peter Crouch skewed an effort just wide of the target following good work from Saido Berahino.
Etebo was next to try his luck, producing a thumping strike from 25-yards that certainly beat the goalkeeper, but agonisingly dropped the wrong side of the post as the German’s held on to their two-goal advantage.
As both side’s pushed forward in a late bid to add a third goal to the tally for the supporters inside the stadium, it was Bochum who went closest seven minutes from time when substitute Robert Tesche rattled the woodwork when he really should have rippled the back of the net.
There was one final opportunity for the Bundesliga side right at the death but Tom Weilandt was denied by the superb Federici, who made a point-blank save to thwart the substitute.
Stoke City: Federici; Bauer (Edwards 70), Shawcross (c) (Sweeney 70), Martins Indi (Souttar 70), Pieters (Tymon 70); Cameron (Sorensen 46), Adam (Imbula 3); Bojan (Campbell 70), Allen (Etebo 70), Choupo-Moting (Berahino 70); Afobe (Crouch 70). Subs: Bursik, Haugaard, Fletcher.