Stoke upbeat despite Everton defeat

Stoke City midfielder Stephen Ireland remains encouraged about his team’s pre-season to date, saying they were “ahead of schedule” despite their 5-4 penalty shootout loss to Everton in the Barclays Asia Trophy.

At the end of 90 minutes, the two sides were deadlocked at 0-0 at the Singapore National Stadium, with Everton keeper Tim Howard then proving the difference in the shootout.

Howard saved a shot from Stoke newcomer Marco van Winkel that was aimed down the middle, with the Toffees converting all five of their shots.

Afterwards, Ireland was a contented figure, telling FourFourTwo he felt his side had plenty to build upon.

“It was a good game,” he said. “It was our first game so it was all about fitness and I think we had the better chances.

“But it was a good game from us and there was a lot of positives to take from it.

“We feel ahead of schedule, usually it takes two or three games to find our form, but we’ve done well today.”

Arsenal cruised past a Singapore Select XI in Wednesday’s later match, meaning the Gunners will face Everton in Saturday’s final.

Stoke will take part in the earlier playoff for third against the Singapore selection, when the Potters will be keen to end the Barclays Asia Trophy on a high.

“We’d like to obviously get a win,” he said. “It’s important that we get as many positives out of the game as we can.

“Win or lose you have to look for positives and we’ve done that tonight. It’s all going well so far.”

Photo credit: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo