Stoke City: Chelsea trip is no longer a Bridge too far for Potters
STOKE should take great heart from their performance at Stamford Bridge – although it didn't feel like that in the dressing room after the game.
Michael Kightly revealed the players were all the more frustrated having gone so close to taking a point from the European Champions.
City were denied by Ashley Cole's 85th-minute strike, but had matched Chelsea up to that point – and before that had had the best chance of the game when Jon Walters headed a Glenn Whelan cross against the bar.
"I thought we played really well," said Kightly.
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"We had a few chances and could have nicked a win, so we are disappointed not to get three points, never mind one.
"This is a tough place to play, but we performed well. We weathered the storm and they didn't have too many chances. We were all gutted in the dressing room after conceding so late."
The result leaves Stoke searching for their first win of the season, although that statistic doesn't tell half the story about their tough start to the campaign.
Draws at home to Arsenal and Manchester City and away at Reading and Wigan haven't been a bad return, particularly as Stoke are keeping the ball better and showing signs of progression as the likes of Kightly, Steven Nzonzi, Geoff Cameron and Charlie Adam have settled into the side.
However, it doesn't get much easier for Stoke because next week's home game with Swansea is followed by trips to Liverpool and Manchester United.
Kightly added: "It's been a good start to the season. We have shown we are hard to beat and we have played three of the top teams in the league and matched them all the way.
"We are disappointed we haven't won a game yet, but I am sure it will come.
"We've had a difficult start and have a tough few games coming up, but we believe we can get points off these big sides.
"Then after that there are a few games where we feel we can definitely win."
Stoke's travelling fans certainly appreciated their team's efforts, the players departing to a deserved standing ovation.
No one in the Stoke camp is going to talk down Swansea before next week's game at the Brit, but it does look more inviting than some of their early season fixtures, particularly after the Swans lost 3-0 at home to Everton on Saturday.
Kightly added: "Swansea are a good side. On their day they can play anyone off the park and we know that. But we need to pick up a win and hopefully we can do that next week.
"The crowd are always unbelievable at the Britannia and they won't be any different on Saturday."