James McClean delivers perfect response to critics with cracking finish
That's some response to all the flak he received during the week
James McClean got into it with Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, on Wednesday, as his new side went in at half-time 2-0 down to Wigan.
The Ireland winger had been snarling and snapping for Stoke's cause in the first half and his free-kick into the box should have earned a penalty. A clear handball was missed by the match officials and McClean's mood darkened further when he was booked for a strong challenge soon after.
He definitely did not appreciate, then, Butland shouting in his response as he headed to the Stoke dressing room. The pair had to be separated by Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross and a few other teammates. To tie a ribbon on the evening, Wigan made it 3-0 seven minutes into the second half and cruised to an easy win.
Stoke boss Gary Rowett demanded more of his squad and one got the sense that this weekend's Championship clash with Hull could make or break his tenure with The Potters.
The Stoke faithful demanded a response - one hopes McClean avoided social media in the days leading up to the game - and they most certainly got one. Hull goalkeeper David Marshall got his hand on a corner but could only clear to the edge of the box. McClean was there waiting.
The 29-year-old made a fizzing, first-time connection and Stoke hit the front. His shot skittered through the legs of one Hull defender and beat Marshall.
All of a sudden, McClean was the talisman that Stoke fans hoped their teamed had signed from West Brom:
Oh no, now James McClean has gone and scored for Stoke!
— John Ross (@Doctorross8) August 25, 2018
From my notes: “7.34 McClean actually impresses crowd with a cross that wins a corner. Blimey, what will happen if he assists a goal??!! 8.09 1-0 !!! OMG, He scores from the corner!” #scfc
— David Lee (@stoke_city_pub) August 25, 2018
Decent half from Stoke. Etebo and Martins Indi playing well. Berahino is a willing runner, fair play to him.
Feel as though a second goal is essential just to settle down the nerves.
Struggling to see where all the people are who vowed to never cheer McClean are... 🤔
— Jamie (@JChatfield94) August 25, 2018
Where are the #StokeCity James Mcclean haters today?
— rob monteith (@montypython5) August 25, 2018
And, before the half was over, McClean had found himself in the referee's book for another one of his crunching tackles.
James McClean booked for a late tackle, that is unusual 😂🙈 pic.twitter.com/35CXDhL23a
— Chris Hardiman ☕🎸🚨🏈📺 (@AJoyForever83) August 25, 2018
After the break, Stoke doubled their lead when a cross was deflected off Jordy de Wijs for an unfortunate own goal. Evandro was then sent off for The Tigers, and Rowett's men saw the game out for a crucial three points.
Richard Keogh, meanwhile, scored a header for Frank Lampard's Derby as they beat Preston 2-0.