Well so far, so bloody good. It is 2-0 and we should have had a third, with Piquionne missing a sitter, trying to tuck it inside the near post when he should have been aiming at the far corner. Der Hammer also nearly scored, with another blast from outside the box that forced a good save.
The first goal was perhaps a tad fortunate. Noble did well to lift the ball into space between the back four and Ba showed great perseverance to follow it through and run it into the net; but in truth the keeper and Wilson should have dealt with it between them. How ironic that two ex Avram men handed us the first goal on a plate!
Goal two was much better. Scotty won the free kick, Hitz sent it in with lovely whip and da Costa jumped as high as he did against Villa last season (when a penalty was incorrectly given because it seemed as if he had to have climbed) and headed home beautifully.
So far, everything is going to plan. The defence have been strong in the air and we have done Stoke at the other end from a set piece. Oh the ironies of ironies! We lack support down the right flank when going forward because Tomkins is not a right back but, if that is the price we have to pay for keeping Stoke out, then fair enough. So far, da Costa has won everything lumped forward for Carew. However, Ba has been superb coming in off the left, Piquionne has made some intelligent runs, Cole is moving intelligently and the midfield is linking well.
The big worry is how Pulis will respond. He will certainly lay in to his charges at half time and demand more from them. Will Etherington be risked? In which case Tomkins will have a more difficult second half. I thought Fuller had gone but he is on the bench. He did da Costa last season and might fancy another go. And then there is Kenwyne. He is due a goal.
First 15 minutes of the second half are going to be crucial. In fact the next 48 or 49 minutes are crucial. Following West Brom's victory, we HAVE to take all three points from this one. A boost to the goal difference also wouldn't go amiss! If Stoke score early, it will get tense!