The Warmdown: Potters take a point at Huddersfield in controversial draw
Goal-scorer Jacob Brown against Huddersfield Town. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Jacob Brown blasted home a stunning second-half strike to seal a well-deserved draw for the Potters on the road.

The hosts started the stronger, but escaped a red card after Josh Koroma's strong studs-up challenge on Taylor Harwood-Bellis was not spotted by referee Gavin Ward after 20 minutes.

The winger was not carded for the challenge and made the most of his lucky escape by opening the scoring for his side seven minutes later.

He cut inside from the left wing, his shot from the edge of the box clipped Stoke's Ben Wilmot and looped over the hapless Jack Bonham.

City went straight up the other end just seconds after the restart and Tyrese Campbell looked to have been fouled by Town's Tom Lees inside the penalty area - but his claims for a spot kick were waved away.

Both teams cancelled each other out for the rest of the first period, with Jaden Philogene-Bidace having the pick of the chances after he made Lee Nicholls produce a good save from 20 yards out.

With the second half well underway, Mario Vrancic gingerly left the action for the mercurial Nick Powell - and he looked determined to stamp his authority on the game with half an hour left.

Jacob Brown also entered the fray and as time ticked on, the visitors began to grow into the tie.

Huddersfield Town substitute Duane Holmes missed a golden chance with 15 to go, after the ball rebounded from a save on to his head and back over the bar.

Not even five minutes later he was made to rue his missed chance as Jacob Brown sent the away fans in raptures with a strike to level the scores.

Philogene-Bidace pounced on a loose ball and crashed his shot against the post, and after a scramble in the area Brown hit a shot from the edge of the box on the turn into the top corner.

Stoke remained in the ascendancy until a late surge from the home side in the dying minutes, but the game was finally called after with 97 minutes. 

  • Both teams remain in the play-off race

Whilst a point is not what either team would have wanted before kick-off, it is one that keeps both teams within the chase for the top six.

The Terriers remain in sixth place for now, with the rest of the chasing pack to play this weekend.

Carlos Corberan's men were largely tipped for a mid-table finish before the campaign, but have proved doubters wrong and are now ten games unbeaten in all competitions.

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Michael O'Neill's side are a few places down in 10th, and have been disappointingly inconsistent since a break in December due to games being called off because of COVID-19.

This time around they showed resilience in the face of controversial decisions at the John Smith's Stadium - and came away with a hard earned point on the road in the end.

The Potters must now begin to kick on and mount a serious challenge again, with most of their key players now back from injury.

  • O'Neill's formation dilemma

Whilst the Potters' boss has stuck with a 3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2 formation for the majority of the season, this game saw him revert to a 4-2-3-1 in order to nullify the hosts' wing play on the attack.

Stoke currently have four fit first-team centre-backs, and so a partnership containing two of Phil JagielkaTaylor Harwood-Bellis or Ben Wilmot may be seen as the way forward for the remainder of the season.

The Potters have also picked up tricky winger Jaden Philogene-Bidace on loan from Aston Villa in this window - leading many to believe that O'Neill plans on utilising wingers over wing-backs as the campaign goes on.

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Regardless of this, Stoke saw themselves into third position in October whilst playing a three-at-the-back formation, so the manager may not be so quick to ditch a style that he has wanted to employ since taking over back in 2019.

The former Northern Ireland boss has a decision to make as Stoke take on some of the league's best in the coming games.

The Potters have been missing their key man since suffering a cracked fibula in October against Bournemouth, and the 27-year-old made a cameo return after three months out against Coventry City in midweek.

Powell was their most influential player at the start of the season with five goals and one assist in nine games, including a run of four consecutive goals.

He was also their highest scorer in the 2020/21 campaign and picked up the club's Player of the Year with 12 goals and three assists - so his influence on the side cannot be understated at all.

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He came on against Huddersfield with 59 minutes played, and his instant impact was there for all to see with his eagerness to get on the ball and create chances.

O'Neill was forced to bring him onto the field earlier than planned, but it proved to be an inspired change as the tide turned in Stoke's favour throughout the second half.

The Potters desperately need the former Manchester United man to stay fit in the second half of the season in order to maintain any sort of a play-off push.

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