Four goals, three points and a much improved display was the start of Michael O’Neill’s reign at Stoke City as the Potters overcame Barnsley 4-2 at Oakwell.
A penalty from Lee Gregory and a Joe Allen, sandwiched in between two brilliant strikes from Sam Clucas on an afternoon when it should have been so much more.
Cameron McGeehan and Patrcik Schmidt found the net for the hosts, but City were far too strong for the South Yorkshire outfit. With eight minutes gone the Potters took the lead in spectacular style.
Barnsley keeper Collins sent a free-kick at the feet of Clucas on the half-way line. The City midfielder returned the ball into the net to put Michael O’Neill’s side ahead. Just before the half-hour mark the Potters were gifted the chance to double the lead. McClean was brought down by Alex Mowatt and City were awarded a spot-kick which Gregory dispatched to double City’s lead.
Straight from the restart, Barnsley found a way back into the game. Cameron McGeehan found the top corner when Mowatt picked him out . Ten minutes later, there was a let off for Stoke as Stephen Ward appeared to bring down second half substitute Luke Thomas, but the referee waved play on before Mowatt fired wide. In recent games, Stoke may have crumbled but with over an hour played it was Gregory who could have added the third when Tom Edwards picked him out in acres of space. Collins was quick off his line to save.
From the resulting corner the Potter did have their third when Allen reacted quickest following a blocked Batth header, and he smashed the ball into the net. Four minutes later Clucas added his second of the afternoon and his fifth of the season when he smashed the ball into the net from Gregory’s lay off.
Barnsley did pull one back when Patrick Schmidt fired into the Potters net after a simple forward ball caught out the back four. That is clearly an area that requires work in the break but that was not enough to dampen a brilliant afternoon for the Potters and a welcome three points ahead of the next international break.
Stoke City started the New Year with a great display that sealed a 5-2 victory against Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium. The Potters got a much needed three points after goals from Sam Read more…