Ade Akinbiyi scored twice to help Stoke complete a superb comeback at Watford. Heidar Helguson had put the Hornets ahead as early as the fourth minute, but on-loan defender Gerry Taggart levelled just 11 minutes later with a firm header.
Good taste precludes me from attempting to compare it with the worst of this and other managers’ reigns, but we can’t have seen much worse for a while, especially given the importance of the fixture and, no offence, the quality of the opponents. As we’ve discovered in recent weeks, victories can turn into draws and draws can turn into defeats by the merest playful twist of fate. Results are fragile things, easily changed by accident as well as design. None of that applies here, though. Stoke didn’t need a late goal. We were beaten, and by a margin that ought to embarrass us into a considerable and immediate improvement.
With five minutes to go, we decided we’d seen enough. “When did you last leave the game before the final whistle?” I asked a twenty-year season ticket holder as we walked back to the car. “Can’t remember – a long time ago,” came the sullen reply.