‘Stinks’ – What Stoke City’s relegation rivals are saying as battle to beat drop intensifies


Stoke City claimed an important victory this weekend as they beat Cardiff City 2-0 at the bet365 Stadium.

The result has left the Potters 19th in the table, three points clear of the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone.

Manager Michael O’Neill recognises that his side remain in a “precarious position” as they battle to avoid the drop.

Here’s what some of Stoke’s relegation rivals have been saying following the latest round of matches…

Wigan Athletic

Wigan remain in third from bottom but boosted their survival hopes with a 1-0 home win over Millwall.

For Latics boss Paul Cook – who watched the game from the gantry due to a touchline ban – it was a perfect 53rd birthday present.

“It’s just about keeping going, I say the same thing every week,” said Cook.

“We sat here a fortnight ago after the Preston game and we were all a little bit disappointed because we never played as well as we could.

“But I thought in general we were good, against a very strong side who were on a fantastic run of results.

“We defended well, we knew we’d get put under pressure in the last 10 minutes if we were in front.

“We didn’t have an extra centre-back on the bench to bring on, the lads had to stand up for themselves.

“And I’m delighted with how they did that.”

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Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield are now only two points above Wigan after they were beaten 3-1 at Swansea City.

Terriers boss Danny Cowley believes the relegation battle will go down to the wire this season.

Swansea found the net first when Town goalkeeper Jonas Lossl palmed Aldo Kalulu’s fired cross into the path of Andre Ayew, who found the bottom corner for 1-0.

The visitors hauled themselves level after 78 minutes when Chris Willock’s shot was steered home by Steve Mounie, but Jay Fulton headed Swansea back ahead from Matt Grimes’ corner two minutes later.

Swans manager Steve Cooper could relax for the final stages as Conor Gallagher slipped in substitute Jordon Garrick, who rounded Lossl and slotted home to finish off a rapid counter-attack.

“Conceding a goal like that stinks of a team in a relegation battle,” said Cowley.

Huddersfield Town manager Danny Cowley applauds the travelling fans after the defeat at Swansea City

“When you come in with one point from eight games you know what you’re in for. You know it’s going to be a long hard season that will go down to the wire.

“We want to get more consistency and I don’t want us to be so accepting, but we’ll continue to fight.

“We’re leaving Swansea very disappointed. We worked so hard to get back into the game, and then we concede like that. It can’t happen like that if you want to be a successful team.

“We had control and momentum in the second half and we certainly thought we’d take something from it. We concede such a soft goal. It’s frustrating and disappointing.

“You cannot give away free headers in your six-yard box. We have to go away and look at ourselves.”

Luton Town

Graeme Jones felt that a “huge decision” went against his Luton side as they lost 3-1 to Charlton Athletic at the Valley.

A second-half effort from James Collins was ruled offside, with the Sky Bet Championship strugglers still level in the game.

After going behind 10 minutes after the disallowed effort – and conceding a third late on – Luton are at the foot of the table, still four points off safety.

However, Jones believed ruling the Collins goal out was an error, and that it would have changed the game had it stood.

“I’ve got no complaints with the lads, the big moment in the game was our offside goal, which we’ve looked at and it wasn’t,” he said.

“They’re huge decisions and they were given against little Luton again, which I don’t like because at 2-1 up you’re in the ascendancy.

“We give a silly penalty away and we’re chasing the game.

“I’ve got no complaints from the players in terms of effort, having the temperament to play. But if there was ever something that swung on a big decision that was it.

“We were in a really good moment – if we had gone 2-1 up we understand how to control football matches, and I would have been very confident.”

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Charlton Athletic

Charlton victory over Luton has left them in 18th place, two points above Stoke and five clear of the drop zone.

Addicks manager Lee Bowyer believed his team deserved their victory.

“I thought we created enough chances in the second half to win the game comfortably,” he said.

“We moved the ball quicker, our movement off the ball was better. I thought we deserved to win the game.

“It was a big three points, they all are now.

“Every point is valuable – nothing is given to you in this league, you have to earn it. Today we earned the three points.

“There’s a lot to play for, there’s a lot more teams in this scrap than I think people realise – it’s the teams above us that are going to get drawn into this.”

Lee Bowyer... key to Charlton's fortunes
Lee Bowyer

Barnsley

Barnsley are second from bottom and five points away from safety after claiming a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.

Tykes manager Gerhard Struber praised his side’s attitude and energy after Conor Chaplin’s goal secured the points.

“I’m very happy,” said Struber. “It is very important in our situation to pick up points and also that we create a very good performance together.

“The attitude and the energy was amazing and I’m very proud of my team today. I hope we can bring this energy in the next few weeks.

“We believe in us and we were very clear in our plan on the ball today. We had a different formation and my three centre-backs created a special performance.

“We celebrate a big win against a very good team. In the whole league, they have two strikers with very big quality and my three centre-backs gave them no chance.

“Conor is a top player for us. He scored and he works so hard. The whole team worked very strong together. Two clean sheets in a row and two victories.

“The atmosphere in the dressing room was always OK. Right now it is top.”

Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough’s loss to Barnsley means they are now without a win in 10 games in all competitions and have dropped below Stoke on goal difference.

The visiting supporters made their views clear at the final whistle with chants of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” echoing around the stadium as the players left the pitch and headed towards the tunnel.

Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate said: “They (Barnsley) played well and we weren’t great at times in the game. It was a really disappointing result for us.

“We didn’t create any opportunities. We lacked that belief to really create chances.

“We had a big following and we didn’t give them anything. We should be doing better. We want to get more points than we have done recently.

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“We went through that spell where we were playing really well and got ourselves 10 points clear. Now we’re three off it so we need to start winning games quick.

“I’ve got experienced players in the dressing room, who I’m sure will turn it around. I’ve got no doubt about that. I truly believe that we will turn it around.

“We’ve been in a relegation place before and put a run together of four games on the spin, which I’m hoping and believing we will do again.

“It was absolutely fantastic support and I don’t blame them for being angry and going crazy. I expect that if we don’t win games like that.

“We’re going to get hard times. The fans are just as frustrated as we are so we just have to take it on the chin. We need to start winning games sharpish.”





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