O’Neill encourages Stoke midfielder to step up as ‘season saviour’

Harry McMullen

Stoke City boss has saluted midfielder Joe Allen after his brace against Luton Town moved the Potters to within three points of safety. 

Stoke dispatched relegation rivals Luton 3-0 at the Bet365 in a clinical performance last night, ending a dismal 3 game losing streak in the league.

The performance was the first time Stoke have scored three at home in the league since December 2017 and gaffer Micheal O’Neill puts the victory down to the drive of Joe Allen, urging him to keep up his form to turn the club’s season around.

He said: “Joe has the ability to lift the players around him – and he showed that.

“He set the press for us. His two goals are great, Joe was very important for us.”

The Welsh midfielder has been at the club since 2016 and his two goals either side of the break are the first time he has netted a double in over three years.

City still in the Championship relegation zone but last night’s win moves them on to 17 points for the season, three behind Luton in 21st.

O’Neill was happy with the solidity of the team, against a dangerous Luton side but says there is still room for improvement.

He continued: “I’m very pleased with the result and attitude, as well as lots of aspects for the performance.

“But we’ll not get carried away because there were aspects of the performance that can still be better.

“We got the goal at a good time, but overall it was a good night for us.”


James McClean was also on the scoresheet for the Potters, who need to be hitting form at the right time, ahead of the busy festive period.

Next up Stoke host Reading next before a trip north to Middlesborough.

O’Neill has only been in the job since November after his move form the Northern Irish national team but he spoke of the importance of getting the football right over the Christmas period to lift Stoke to safety.

He said: “The Championship is one of the tightest leagues in the world, a couple of wins can completely change your season.”