As the drafted-in players bedded down, Stoke made the brighter start. Jon Walters demonstrated the danger he can present with a driving run and shot that flashed inches wide of Amos’ right-hand post. Kenwyne Jones then volleyed comfortably the wrong side of the same upright after Ferdinand only managed to half-clear Jermaine Pennant’s cross. At the other end, Michael Carrick had a low drive blocked by Ryan Shawcross, the former United player at the heart of the Potters’ defence.
Amos’ first touch of note was a clean catch from Peter Crouch’s header following Marc Wilson’s deep cross, however referee Mike Jones found fault with the Stoke centre-forward gaining leverage on a Reds defender.
Scholes, scorer of the first goal in United’s previous home game, almost seized the same role in this contest when his turf-skimming missile was deflected narrowly off-target.
Evra, so much in the spotlight on Saturday, tried to grab some limelight when he broke into the area and went down for only half-hearted penalty appeals from the crowd, and then whipped the ball into the side-netting from United’s next attack. Stoke’s other flank came under flak from in-form Antonio Valencia but Thomas Sorensen dealt effectively with the Ecuadorian’s angled drive, diving through the forest of defenders’ legs to push the ball away.
Sorensen could only look on and pray however when Carrick fed Park and ran on to collect Berbatov’s ball into space behind the Stoke defence.