Michael O’Neill full of praise as Stoke continue flying start by beating Swansea



Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2021 by PA

Michael O’Neill full of praise as Stoke continue flying start by beating Swansea

Stoke manager Michael O’Neill hailed his team’s unbeaten start to the new Championship season after a comfortable 3-1 win at Swansea.

Nick Powell, former Swan Sam Clucas and Leo Ostigard all scored in Wales before Joel Piroe struck a consolation.

It leaves Stoke second in the table, level on points with leaders Fulham after two wins and a draw in their first three games of the season.

O’Neill said: “I’m delighted with both the performance and the result. The first 25 minutes were excellent and we dealt with a good team.

“I don’t think we created too many chances, but we got the goals at the right time. We were comfortable until they scored, but I thought we saw the game out pretty comfortably.

“It’s a great three points for us. This is quite a new team with new players who are young. There has been quite a big turnaround in terms of the age profile of the squad.

“Joe Allen and Sam Clucas both had excellent games. We are only three games in so there is a lot of work still to do.”

Powell headed home for a deserved Stoke opener as Swansea toiled in the first half.

Clucas doubled his team’s advantage and celebrated by taking off his shirt and showing the name on the back to the Swansea fans who booed him loudly.

O’Neill added: “I thought Sam played very well first of all. The two eights we had were very effective and they had good energy in the middle of the pitch.

“He enjoyed his goal and it was a calm finish. The celebration might cost him because he got a yellow card.”

Leo Ostigard slammed home a third from close range before Piroe struck for the hosts.

The striker had been brought on to replace Yan Dhanda after just 38 minutes as Swansea endured a poor first half.

Head coach Russell Martin has lost two of his three Championship games so far and admitted his team are not fit enough to play the possession football he wants.

“It’s a difficult result to take,” he said.

“The most disappointing thing for us as a group is that we conceded from two set-pieces.

“There was a mistake in there. I can accept the mistake, that’ll happen less and less the more conditioning we get. The set-pieces hurt.

“There was not much between the two teams. If anyone tells you any different, I would disagree with them. It was a really competitive game.

“We had a lot of control. We didn’t start very well and the guys were tired.

“This was our biggest fear before the game. We are not quite conditioned well enough to play the way we want to play, but we’ll get there.

“The pre-season was disrupted so I don’t want to be disrespectful to anyone, but they are not as fit as they should be or they can be for our way of doing things.”

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