Whilst I may, perhaps, be running the risk of getting carried away with myself after the excitement of Saturday evening, it is certainly no exaggeration to say that this result went some way to making up for Wiley-gate (as it shall never again be known).
For the hardy souls who made the daunting trip down to deepest darkest Hampshire, the celebrations when Salif smacked in Riccy's pull back deep into injury time, must have been a cathartic release that had been pent up since the previous Tuesday. For those of us watching in our living rooms, the feeling is never quite the same, but rest assured, jubilant celebrations were held in living rooms of Stokies across the country. I wager however, that many of these celebrations, (including my own), were delayed by about ten seconds while we focused in on the referee and nervously awaited his confirmation.
The game was a scrappy performance from the potters, as Wilko was given his marching orders for a harsh second yellow and we were once again forced down to ten men. Prior to this, we fell behind to a Porstmouth team that outplayed us in the first half, but struggled in the second. Huth had drawn us level with a comfortable header from a Whelan corner, and for a while, it looked like we could start to push for the winner. The dismissal of Wilko however meant a more cautious approach, and we struggled to create any more chances.
The boys really dug in though and never really looked liking going behind to a beleaguered Pompey side. Once again Riccy was our main (or only) attacking threat, and it was his perseverance deep into injury time that led to him bustling through the Pompey back line, drawing the keeper out of his goal and squaring the ball in front of an open net.
I will hold my hands up here and admit I was less than complimentary about Salif when he was brought on, and may even have said something along the lines of "Tony's definitely settling for the draw now". Nevertheless, there he was, steaming into the area just at the right moment to twat Fuller's cut back into the roof of the net and send the travelling Stokies, as well as us at home, wild.
Diao is a frustrating player, who clearly shows signs of his quality, but too often lets himself down with silly tackles and misplaced passes. I truly hope however that he can start playing again to the best of his abilities, as on his day, he can be a valuable defensive midfielder.
It was a precious three points in only our second away win this season, and whilst I'm far too pessimistic to suggest we are now safe, it certainly sets us in good stead as we are now ten points clear off the relegation zone, and just two wins away from the magical 40 point mark.
Salif may not score many more goals for Stoke, and he certainly won't score any this dramatic.
Stoke City FC, we really do only need ten men.