Orlando City 1-2 Stoke City
Stoke have picked up their first pre-season win, beating Orlando City in Florida.
Mame Diouf and Bojan got the goals at the Titan Complex, as Stoke won 2-1.
Mark Hughes decided to implement a three at the back system again, with Ryan Shawcross, Philipp Wollscheid and Marc Muniesa all starting. There was no place for new signing Joe Allen, but Mame Diouf made his first start of pre-season having netted against Preston at the weekend.
There was a familiar face in Orlando’s line-up, with former Stoke man Brek Shea playing on the left wing, and the USA international nearly opened the scoring with an excellent strike after quarter of an hour.
Stoke’s formation was allowing Glen Johnson plenty of space on the right wing, but it was Marko Arnautovic looking the brightest button in a red and white shirt…or ‘candy stripes’ as the local commentator preferred to refer to our colours.
Arnautovic was firstly denied by a low save from Edwards, before he combined with Bojan who cut the ball back to Muniesa. The defender’s close range shot was superbly blocked by Hines though.
Conditions in the States were extremely humid and a drinks break broke up the rhythm of the game, before Diouf picked up a booking for a high challenge.
0-0 at the break was probably a fair scoreline, but Stoke came out with hunger for the second half and took the lead after three minutes.
Bojan worked the ball out wide to Johnson who crossed to Diouf. His first effort was blocked, but he was able to fire in from six yards at the second attempt.
The lead didn’t last long though. Hadji Berry was allowed the freedom of the penalty area to waltz through Stoke’s defence and fired into the back of the net, via Butland’s outstretched foot.
There was a high intensity to the game and Wollscheid became the second Stoke man to get booked when he raised his arm into the face of an opponent. Like Diouf before him, it was an incident that could have resulted in a red card in a competitive fixture.
Berry’s equaliser fired Stoke up, and they retook the lead shortly after.
The ball fell to Bojan- who was excellent throughout- and he whipped a delicious strike into the top corner from the edge of the area. It turned out to be the Spaniard’s last touch of the match, and what a delightful way to depart the pitch it was.
A sell out crowd of 3,742- including a handful of Stokies- were treated to an enjoyable match, with Stoke seeing out victory fairly comfortably in the end.
What was apparent was that our defence looked rather lost in the system, but there were plenty of individual positives to take from the match, particularly from match-winner Bojan.
Stoke City: Butland, Johnson (Bardsley 65), Wollscheid, Shawcross, Muniesa, Pieters, Imbula (Shenton 83), Adam, Arnautovic (Lecygne 71), Bojan (Joselu 65), Diouf (Crouch 65).
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