Stoke (1) 3 SAFC (1) 2: bad refereeing but unbelievable surrender

When Stoke equalised, I felt it was deserved. Possibly on each occasion. It was, all the same, a game we did enough to win and should have won. And contrived, undeservedly but in part through our own lamentable failings, to lose.

Sunderland were unlucky and lucky and unlucky in turn.

Lee Probert had a dreadful game, generally succumbing to the clamour of home fans with the decisions that mattered or were borderline or both.

He utterly ignored the bullying of Craig Gordon by the big, hard men – I almost wrote thugs -of Stoke at set pieces. He spotted every Sunderland infraction but missed several from Stoke.

But we were fortunate in goalmouth scrambles more than once and were all too often prone to panic and desperation around the goal line. And it was Gordon’s inability to command the six-yard area, not always but sometimes, that ultimately played a part in costing us the points.

Either of the goals that twice put us in front, from Richardson and Gyan, ought to have sealed our third successive away Premier win.

But even when we seemed to be heading into relatively comfortable passages of play while ahead, we were vulnerable whenever the ball went out of play for a Stoke attacking throw or a corner.

So to that extent, I do not blame poor officials for the defeat. We should be clever enough, mature enough to deal with the counter-attacks of teams we are leading.

Yet …


The first equaliser, inevitably following one of Delap’s stream of dangerous long throws, depended on the officials arguably missing a foul on Craig Gordon, a handball by Ryan Shawcross and a clearly offside final touch by Carew.

It was no special surprise that Lee Probert and his linesman missed any of these three reasons for questioning the goal’s legitimacy.

Much earlier, some time even before Muntari was correctly booked for a bad tackle on Etherington, the officials had also missed not only a blatant red card offence by Shawcross (a sneaky tug on the shirt of Gyan, who would otherwise have been one on one with Begovic) but also allowed Shawcross to get away unpunished, apart from the free kick, for a trip after being sweetly beaten by Sessegnon.

I don’t want to see opponents shown cards unreasonably, but it was as straightforward a yellow as you will ever witness.

With the exception of that cynical foul on Sessegnon, each of these transgressions may well have been hard for Probert and his men on the line to spot.

For all that, Probert had a poor game. He should have punished the brutish conduct of Stoke players in our box. The second equaliser looked offside too; where’s Sian Massey when you need her?

Tony Pulis, to no surprise, recalled the unspotted goal line handball by Lee Cattermole in our 2-0 win at the Stadium of Light, implying that Stoke fully deserved to get the benefit of every doubt today.

But if Probert gets off the hook, it will not because he tried to make amends for another official’s error but because our defence also had a poor game, collectively, and went missing far, far too often, putting themselves under unremitting pressure by needlessly conceding so many free kicks, throws and corners. And then failing to defend them with confidence. These are not the marks of a top six club.

Monsieur Salut

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8 thoughts on “Stoke (1) 3 SAFC (1) 2: bad refereeing but unbelievable surrender”

  1. You’re probably right Mark; I do the 7 straight after the game when emotions can be running high. My Observer analysis was more studied and pointed out our defensive weaknesses – but that was done a couple of hours later.
    We know what to expect from Stoke; we got it, didn’t deal with it and you won. But goals 1 and 2 should have been disallowed for offside and handball; Probert had an awful game – but then again, he usually does.
    Sour grapes – maybe, but I thought we played some decent football and deserved to win. But then I would, wouldn’t I!!

  2. Thanks Dan. I don’t think anybody deserved a red today, I was pointing out that we can all point at things in games. There is certainly no need to describe us as ‘horrible’ and ‘thugs’. Our disciplinary record is pretty good and not one Stoke player has been booked for dissent this season. Our play is one dimensional, but that is what our manager does.

  3. Mark – you’re right about Gordon, he’s a great shot stopper but does not command his box and this cost us today. Although Muntari & Henderson were rightly booked I didn’t think either deserved a red. It’s a fair point you make about your first goal, but Carew was also offside when the free kick was taken for your 2nd and Huth, who got the final touch, was offside when Carew connected with the ball (with what looked like his arm!). We got away with one at the SoL with Cattermole’s handball, so you were probably due some luck against us and in my view you got that today.

  4. There are those of us among the Stoke fans who would like to see more quality in our general play, but that’s our manager and it works a lot of the time. However, I have to say I’m really disappointed with some of the comments here and from Pete Sixsmith. I could argue that Muntari should have been sent off and Henderson was lucky to only be booked once, but it happens in games. Your goalie flapped at a couple of crosses he should have claimed and was relying on the ref to give him a freekick as goalies do when they mess up. Carew was not deemed offside because it looked like Gordon was the player who played the ball on to him.

    There is some balance in this review, but not in Pete Sixsmith’s whose two choices omitted a third: ‘Sunderland think ref should compensate defensive frailty’

  5. Disappointing result, especially after leading twice. It’s a little concerning to see defensive frailties appearing when we’re about to embark on a run of very tough games. On a brighter note, our passing and movement was at times excellent (with the exception of Henderson who I thought was poor) and Muntari and Sess both look like great additions. Also, whilst teams are entitled to play the game in whatever style brings them results, I could not sit through that garbage served up by Stoke every week! Each to their own, but I find the gameplan of hoofing/throwing the ball in the mixer and picking up the second ball awful to watch. Possibly sour grapes on my part, but I’m very glad that Bruce has built a side with an approach that’s a lot easier on the eye.

  6. Bad officiating is part and parcel of the game, Stoke suffered a lot earlier on in the season -including the ref/liner missing a spot of goalkeeping from your hard man (nearly wrote thug) Lee Cattermole. On the game, i thought Sunderland played better football and Stoke were typically scrappy/ugly/infuriating. You gotta keep going to the end though. Best wishes for the rest of the season!

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