The Season In Pictures The Season In Pictures

  • As this seasons come to an end, Ive put together a compilation of all the best Stoke City pictures, hopefully capturing the highs and lows along the way, and the overall e sence of what has been a very succe sful 2008/09.The Stoke fans descend upon Bolton for our first ever Premier League matchForty-five minutes and three Bolton goals later we feared the worstAt least Ricardo Fuller added a little credibility to the scoreline with our first top flight goal in 23 yearsEmotions changed from despair to delight as Fuller sublimely put us ahead against Aston Villa a week laterAfter Villa had equalised, Mamady Sidibes last minute winner sealed a pricele s first victoryRory-mania reached fever pitch after the next home game, a 3-2 lo s to EvertonAt which point we still had high hopes for Dave KitsonA hard fought draw at Liverpool in mid-September announced our aspirations to compete with the big boysbut we remained in the bottom threeThe contrasting faces of the fans tell the storyAbout this time a new Stoke hero came to prominenceOur second win, against Tottenham, finally arrived in mid-OctoberWith Thomas Sorensens blood and guts performance epitomising our seasonA heavy defeat at Manchester City summed up our travel-sickne sBut a home win over Sunderland put us back on the right trackIt was Delaps turn to shine again as we out-thought and out-fought ArsenalFuller nodded the first of our two goals from the Delap throw, while Kolo Toure forgot that you cant be offside from a throw inRobin Van Persie then saw red for losing his temper with Sorensen, capping the perfect day for StokeArsene Wenger, the definition of a bad loser,pathetically accused Stoke of deliberately injuring his playersafter the gameWe saw off Rotherham to continue our League Cup runWe were thumped by the enemyBut at least we managed to wind up Cristiano RonaldoA vital win over West Brom was our fifth in a row at homeBut our dreams of Carling Cup glory were dashed by Rob Styles and Derby2-0 down at Newcastle we feared the worstBut a second half comeback was gloriously sealed when Abdoulaye slammed home in injury timeChristmas defeats to Blackburn and Manchester United saw us slide right back into troubleDisaster then struck at West Ham, Fuller being dismi sed after striking teammate Andy Griffin in the faceThis without doubt the darkest day of our seasonItgot worse beforeit got better as we were horrifyingly dumped out of the FA Cup at the hands of HartlepoolThings looked up as we gained our first point of 2009 a week later, with another draw against LiverpoolPerhaps the defining moment of our season, James Beattie signed in mid-JanuaryThe next weekend we astonishly led at Chelsea until the 87th minuteOnly to lose the game 2-1After the devastating lo s at Chelsea, and the one that followed at Tottenham, we could have caved in at home to Manchester City, especially after Delap was sent off in the first halfInstead we kicked on, Beattie scoring a superb header to win the gameAnd announcing himself as a Stoke playerWe were still deep in trouble though, as despite Danny Pughs excellent save, we lost at SunderlandOur luck seemed to change as February became March at Villa ParkOur spirits soared and we all roared when in the last minuteWhelan scoredFour days later we put paid to Bolton at a snowy Britannia Stadium and survival suddenly looked on the cardsAnd with a win over Middlesbrough two weeks later we were a mid-table sideWe had to wait until April for it, but our first Premier League away win followed the next Saturday at West Brom, as we hit our best form of the season at just the right timeScott Carson rued his decision to move to the BaggiesThis Stoke fan was sadly wrong though as we conceded late to squander two points against Championship bound NewcastleLiam Lawrences goal gave us the win against struggling Blackburn the next week thoughAbdoulaye and Sorensen knew survival was closeWe could have secured safety at Fulham, but a 1-0 lo s added to the nervesBefore a frustrating home defeat to West Ham, our first of 2009, saw us stutter againWe neednt have worried though, as Lawrences sublime goal helped us to a win at Hull and gloriously confirmed our Premier League status for next yearThe Stoke fans were understandably overjoyedAbdoulayeand Lawrence showed what survival means to themWhile Tony Pulis pointed to the futureDefeat waspainful for Phil Brown, making Stokes achievement all the sweeterWe finished a fantastic home season in style, seeing off Wigan 2-0, Lawrence and Beattie demonstrating how well theyve got to know one anotherThe Britannia Stadium was bouncing for the lap of honour after the final whistleHeavy defeat on the final day at Arsenal did little to dampen Stoke spirits, and we could celebrate a succe sful 2008/09. and look forward to an even better 2009/10

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