Santos boob hands Stoke points

Stoke City 2 Ipswich Town 0A DISBELIEVING Joe Royle blamed a 'schoolboy error' and a toothless attack for Ipswich's latest set-back in the promotion chase.

By Derek Davis

Stoke City 2 Ipswich Town 0

A DISBELIEVING Joe Royle blamed a 'schoolboy error' and a toothless attack for Ipswich's latest set-back in the promotion chase.

A Peter Hoekstra penalty after a Georges Santos howler and an Ade Akinbiyi finish as the Blues waited for an offside flag gave Stoke victory

Royle said: “It was daft, our goalkeeper's quietest game of the season. He has not had a save to make yet picked the ball out of the net twice.

“We were totally in control of the game first half without looking particularly dangerous ourselves yet gave a silly goal away.”

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Santos tried to play the ball back to Kelvin Davis but only succeeded in letting Akinbiyi in with a chance, although Kelvin Davis saved the ball it rolled to Seb Svard who was then tripped by the French defender.

Royle said: “That will go to the top of even our catalogue of stupid goals given away this season. Georges knows what he should have done with the ball, but he didn't.”

Town conceded a controversial second goal in the second half as they chased an equaliser.

Royle said: “The second goal was academic and it was offside anyway. But the linesman, having not given us that one, then gives us three offsides, which were not offside but that doesn't help us.”

The Blues boss could not help feeling hard done by, although he was still not happy with his own attack.

He said: “Two-nil was very harsh on us. As poor as we were attacking wise we should not have lost. We have totally dominated possession yet have ended up losing.

“In short we have made a schoolboy error at the back and looked toothless up front. In between there was some good stuff.”

Town made three changes with Shekfi Kuqi looking below par, while John McGreal is a major injury concern with possible ligament damage and skipper Jim Magilton suffered a dead leg.

Royle said: “I could see early on Shefki was not in it and I knew Richard Naylor would give us presence. But the worry is, even though we are leading scorers, none of our front men seem to be showing anything brilliant. If you had seen us for the first time you would wonder why we are top scorers.

“We buzzed around their area but rarely forced de Goey into making a save.”

The defeat pushes Town down to sixth but Royle is refusing to give up hope.

He said: “You never know in this division what will happen so I'm not going to write it off until it is mathematically impossible to catch the top two.”

City boss Tony Pulis admitted there may have been an offside for their second goal but put his striker's finish down to a player high on confidence.

He said: “We are pleased to win. Ipswich are a very good side, their passing and movement is very good. They are the top scorers so for us to keep a clean sheet against them is very pleasing.

“Ipswich had a lot of possession but when they got through us people threw bodies in the way to prevent them scoring. It was a definite penalty, the second may have been offside but he took the goal ever so well and that is down to confidence.”

Martijn Reuser pulled out of last night's squad and went back to Holland after a family bereavement.

Town will be hoping for a lift tonight when Chris Makin makes a comeback from injury in a reserve game against Coventry City at Nuneaton.