Wells fires up Holden’s per­fect start but Stoke look tooth­less

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Total Football - By Ian Whit­tell at the Bri­tan­nia Sta­dium

Wells 45+2, Weimann 89

Hav­ing set about im­prov­ing Stoke’s por­ous de­fence, man­ager Michael O’Neill now faces a fresh chal­lenge as his side, with one goal from four games this sea­son, strug­gles at the other end of the field.

Nahki Wells’s op­por­tunist goal in first-half in­jury time was the first Stoke had con­ceded in the open­ing 315 min­utes of the cam­paign but, by the time the im­pres­sive An­dreas Weimann com­pleted the scor­ing a minute from time, the hosts had long run out of ideas.

In­deed, Stoke failed to muster a sin­gle shot on tar­get dur­ing this first de­feat of the sea­son and this per­for­mance was more in keep­ing with those that had them in the thick of the rel­e­ga­tion fight un­til O’Neill turned their for­tunes around.

“We’re in the early part of the sea­son and brought play­ers to the club who are adapting and still get­ting up to fit­ness,” said O’Neill. “I be­lieve we’ve got enough op­tions to be a threat at the at­tack­ing end.”

Bris­tol City’s for­wards could cer­tainly teach O’Neill’s a thing or two about fin­ish­ing and an alert Wells might have scored af­ter four min­utes, pounc­ing on a poor Sam Clu­cas

Opener: Nahki Wells cel­e­brates scor­ing Bris­tol City’s first goal just be­fore half-time

back pass but be­ing de­nied by Adam Davies. But Wells made no mis­take later, how­ever, when the Ber­muda in­ter­na­tional latched onto a ball from Chris Martin and hooked it in from a tricky an­gle.

With Stoke never re­motely trou­bling goal­keeper Dan Bent­ley or the Bris­tol de­fence, Weimann’s goal was largely aca­demic, but de­served, as he dis­pos­sessed Danny Batth, ex­changed passes with An­toine Se­menyo and scored from 12 yards.

The win made it four out of four in league and cup games for Dean Holden’s team and left them as one of only three Cham­pi­onship teams with a 100 per cent record.

“Covid changed the world and you’ve got adapt,” said Holden. “We’re go­ing to face prob­lems ev­ery day – in the train­ing en­vi­ron­ment, on match days – and you’ve got to be smart and find so­lu­tions to that.

“The day I got the job, I said the aim was to be at the top end of the Cham­pi­onship, we’ve got be­lief and this is a bril­liant start. But that’s all it is – a start.”

O’Neill also con­firmed that for­mer Eng­land goal­keeper Jack But­land is likely to leave the club but de­clined to com­ment on re­ports that a swap deal with Southamp­ton’s An­gus Gunn is im­mi­nent.

Stoke (5-3-2) Davies 7; Smith 7, Ch­ester 6, Batth 6, Martins Indi 6 (Ty­mon 79), Fox 6; Pow­ell 6, Mikel 6, Clu­cas 7; Brown 6 (Camp­bell 65), Vokes 5 (Fletcher 45). Subs But­land, Oak­ley-Boothe, Thomp­son, Collins. Booked Pow­ell.

Bris­tol City (5-3-2) Bent­ley 7; Hunt 7, Vyner 6, Moore 6, Maw­son 6, Rowe 7; Pater­son 7 (Brunt 75), Bakin­son 7, Weimann 9; Wells 7 (Died­hiou 82), Martin 7 (Se­menyo 75). Subs O’Leary, Elias­son, Sesseg­non, Palmer. Booked Pater­son.

Ref­eree Oliver Langford 7 (West Mid­lands).

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