Injury to Declan Fletcher ends friendly early
A young Stoke City side visited the Richborough Estates Stadium this afternoon to take on the Bears.
Congleton Town 0
Stoke City 2
The game itself was much tighter than last year's 4-0 defeat but with 10 minutes left, a serious injury to Declan Fletcher resulted in its abandonment.
The first half belonged to Stoke, they kept greater possession and created plenty of chances. Dom Telford thought he'd beaten Andy Farrimond early on but Lee Jackson was well placed on the line to block. Farrimond was beaten not much later though, this time Telford broke down the left and fed the ball to Joel Taylor down the middle. He used the bounce to lob the ball over the keeper and into the net. The Bears had their best chance of the half following an excellent passing move down the right that led to Chris Smith sending the ball towards the bottom corner. Dale Eve denied him at full stretch. Stoke pressed for a second goal and came close when Bradley Torbuck fired one not far over from outside the box. The second goal came Issac Fernandes reached the byline and picked out Mark Waddington in the middle, he had enough time to place his volley past Farrimond for a well taken goal. It was almost 3-0 but Farrimond got down well to deny Ronaldo Deaconu at the near post. Johnville Pringle then tried his luck from range but his dipping shot was beaten away. The Bears' only other chance came when a corner was played short to Jackson. His deep cross found Scott Sephton but the header was comfortably caught by Eve. Stoke tried their own short corner before the break, but Mason Watkins-Clarke shot well over the bar from 25 yards out.
The Bears looked a lot stronger for the second half following a reshuffle. They now had 3 in midfield with a front 3 of Brandon Moores, Eder Ruiz and Declan Fletcher. Ruiz broke down the left and tried to find Fletcher with a through-ball. A touch from a defender redirected it to Moores in space but he couldn't get it from under his feet quick enough and shot over under pressure. Fletcher was proving to be a handful for the Stoke defence and won a free-kick down the left channel. Ruiz took it short leading to a lofted shot that struck the post with Eve scrambling. Fletcher came closest as a deep ball found him behind the defence, his volley was struck well enough but Eve managed to stick out an arm to block it with Ruiz unable to reach the rebound. With 10 minutes to go, a dangerous cross from Ruiz was challenged for by Fletcher and Eve. Unfortunately, the Congleton player came off worst with the referee stopping the came so he could receive treatment. With an ambulance required, the game was finished early whilst both the Congleton and Stoke medical staff looked after Declan. The injury hopefully isn't as bad as first feared but our gratitude must go out to the Stoke medical team for staying and supporting Declan until he was safely in the ambulance.
The Bears are in action again on Thursday night with Mossley visiting the Richborough Estates Stadium, 7:45pm kick-off.
Report by Bobby Lakin