Stoke game off

Last updated : 01 January 2007 By Tony Scholes

There was no inkling of it, no suggestion of even an inspection, and club staff were this morning confidently telling concerned supporters that the game was on, but referee Russell Booth was inspecting the pitch before noon.

And his verdict was that the pitch was not fit enough for the game to go ahead, and once again our club has lost one of the Christmas/New Year fixtures because of the state of our pitch.

Only once since 1994 have we played on the first day of the year and that was in 2001 when we went down to a 2-1 home defeat against Wolves. Recent years have seen games against such as Bradford City and Sheffield United called off whilst two years ago the home game against Leicester was abandoned.

Again it is the strip in front of the Bob Lord Stand which has caused the game to be called off and after inspecting the pitch referee Booth said: “Unfortunately the elements have beaten us. The ground staff have worked incredibly hard in trying conditions to get the pitch in the best possible shape.

“However, the full flank running the length of the Bob Lord Stand, with certain areas worse than others, was too saturated and would have caused problems for the players' safety. When we inspected the pitch at 11:30 it was still raining heavily and with more rain forecast throughout the day, it left us with no alternative but to call the game off.”

There is no new date for the game as yet.