Tip of the cap for Stoke City number one as long throw returns


It feels like some cheek when an opponent turns up at Stoke City with an alleged long throw weapon.

But Cardiff have had success from Will Vaulks’s chucked crosses and boast the best record in the Championship at set pieces.

Stoke, however – and on the back of conceding 11 in their previous four games, restricted the visitors to snatched efforts and no chance to pounce in second phases at corners.

Defenders took responsibility for winning headers and Jack Butland showed authority in the penalty area.

“Jack came for a lot,” said Michael O’Neill. “His starting positions were excellent for set pieces and long throws as well. They’ve scored a lot from those situations, perhaps more than anyone else in the Championship, so we had to really defend against that and we did.

“It’s difficult because they play quite direct which encourages you then to give more set pieces away.

“But a clean sheet is important for Jack and the team as a whole and we worked very hard for it.”

Jack Butland helps Stoke to a clean sheet.

An own goal from Callum Paterson put Stoke in front – from a Jordan Thompson corner under pressure from Nick Powell – and Joe Allen sealed the win after Cardiff could not clear from Tyrese Campbell when he was set up by Powell.

It was Allen’s fourth of the season, all under O’Neill.

But O’Neill said: “Joe’s form not down to me, it’s down to him – he’s a top player. He’s been a joy to work with since we’ve come in.

“If you ask Joe I think he’s been a bit frustrated with his form at times, which is natural sometimes. He is taking a lot of responsibility in terms of trying to set the right example on a daily basis and with the team as well.

“I’m delighted he got the goal because he gives you everything and even when he’s not on his best form he has so much to offer to the team.

“This time we released him a little bit higher up the pitch with Jordan Thompson playing behind and he can contribute not only in terms of what he gives you with the goal but also the ability to find a killer pass.”

It was Stoke’s bottle, perhaps particularly in the wake of that QPR defeat and the reaction to it, that seemed to most please O’Neill.

He said: “We’re delighted with the win, the three points and I think today in this performance we showed a lot of resilience. I think that’s something that has been questioned this season on a number of occasions.

“It was very good to show that against a team that was always going to test you. We had to deal with a lot of balls into the box and direct play, which I thought we dealt with well.”





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