First off, credit where credit is due. I don't care how much holding there was in the box for the Stoke goal - every team does it, it's just Stoke are better at it - the corner was the most wonderfully crafted set piece goal I have EVER seen. Walters' run was stunning, starting outside the back post and inside the six yard box and finishing - in both senses of the word - on the near post, in the middle of the box, to meet a perfectly delivered pass. Talk about a training ground move transferred to a game! How do you defend against that? Amazing!
The stats for the game suggest we were unlucky not to win - 58% of the possession, more shots on goal, more shots on target, 12 corners to 4 - but the truth is that Stoke came closest to getting a second with N'Zonzi's brilliant strike against the bar. Our goal apart, we huffed and puffed but never really looked like blowing the Stoke house down.
Our limitations were exposed in this game. True O'Neil supplied the cross for O'Brien's goal - and what was the Irishman doing in the six yard box? - and true O'Neil nearly scored from a corner move almost as good as Stoke's - his shot curling narrowly wide - but without Jarvis, Benayoun and Vaz Te, we lack pace and creativity when in possession. It's all very well having the Carroll battering ram, but that battering ram isn't battering anybody at the moment - and we don't have an alternative. Cole came on and ran into the channels, but Cole's goalless run is longer than Carroll's!
Meanwhile, Maiga looks more and more like a duff. His decision making was again poor and his distribution pretty woeful. Yes he has pace but he doesn't seem to have a footballing brain at all. And the crowd are getting frustrated with him.
And anybody wondering why Noble always takes our corners should look at Taylor's two pathetic efforts and the even worse one from Diame. Contrast those three with the Walters goal and you'll see why we didn't win the game!
On the plus side, Tomkins and Reid again looked good, but those two apart, the team were very ordinary. It's going to need all Allardyce's organisational and motivational skills to conjure points from the challenging run of fixtures that we now face. The point was very welcome but, in truth, this was really two points lost.
And one last moan - why did McCartney give away the corner for the Stoke goal? He had done the hard work, chasing back to cover but when the ball came to him, the danger had passed. It was so lazy and crass to put the ball behind and give Stoke their favourite goal scoring opportunity. Mind you, it set up that Walters goal, and that was just about the only reward for any neutrals who foolishly gave over 90 minutes of their lives to watch this game!
Player ratings: Jussi 6; O'Brien 7, Tomkins 7, Reid 7, McCartney 5; Noble 6, Diame 6; O'Neil 6, Maiga 4; Nolan 6, Carroll 5. Subs: Cole 5, Demel 5, Taylor 4