The Perfect Start

Paul Lambert

THE Paul Lambert era is officially up and running!

The Scotsman was handed the reins at the bet365 Stadium on Monday and needed less than a week to spur his new charges on to a first Premier League victory of the New Year.

It was always going to be a tense and nervy afternoon, especially on the back of three successive league defeats which had plummeted the Potters into the bottom three.

Despite that though, an air of optimism swept around the stadium on a cold and wet wintery afternoon in North Staffordshire as supporters eagerly awaited the start of a new dawn for the Club.

Lambert promised determination, application and a real work-ethic upon his appointment as manager, and that was evident from the first minute to the last as his troops kicked-off his tenure in charge in absolutely perfect fashion.

For all of the home side’s endeavour in the first half it wasn’t until the second 45 that they began to bear the fruits of their toil and labour.

A sweeping move down the left 10 minutes after the restart, which was instigated by the impressive Charlie Adam, saw Maxim Choupo-Moting pull a delicious ball across the penalty box for Joe Allen to slip home.

Cue the wild celebrations around the stadium, and a definite sense of relief too, as the supporters joined the players, just as Lambert had asked prior to the match, in unifying themselves in celebration.

The former Wolves boss highlighted the importance of his players giving back to the supporters, and they certainly didn’t fall short in that regard as they pressurised David Wagner’s men all over the field.

The backline, which had kept just two clean-sheets in the top-flight all season, the last being on the road at Watford in October, was immense throughout. 

Moritz Bauer, the other, somewhat forgotten home debutant, was top drawer, as were Messrs Shawcross, Zouma and Pieters.

The four of them, together with the industrious midfield trio of Allen, Adam and the more defence minded Darren Fletcher were formidable, winning 50/50s on the ground and in the air, giving the fans reason to really up the ante inside the stadium.

Lambert never promised slick, sexy football upon his appointment, he spoke of overseeing nothing other than a ‘winning style’, but maybe he was playing himself down because the second goal boasted more than a sprinkling of gold dust.

Cameroonian Choupo-Moting was involved once more too, as his delicate ball through the middle, moments after Allen had nipped in to break up a Huddersfield surge forward, was exquisitely flicked through to Mame Diouf via Xherdan Shaqiri, before the Senegalese rifled the ball home off the inside of the post.

That was ultimately the curtain call for the struggling visitors, and they were somewhat fortunate to have escaped without any other punishment, with Choupo-Moting and Shaqiri both guilty of spurning further opportunities as the encounter wore on.

In the end that didn’t matter, maybe they were simply saving their goals for more needing times in the coming weeks and months.

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