Retired Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi, on Saturday provided an assist in Stoke City’s 1-0 victory over 10-man Preston in the English Championship as Tom Barkhuizen got sent off for the first time in his professional career.
Both sides had gone into the match without a win in the English second-tier this season.
The Lilywhites first lost at home to Swansea City before drawing at Norwich City last weekend. The Potters meanwhile drew at Millwall on matchday one before losing to Bristol City the last time out. Both Barkhuizen and Mikel had played the entire 90 minutes in those matches and started for the third Championship game running.
The Anglo-South African was, however, given a straight red card for a dangerous foul on Stoke leftback Morgan Fox in the 22nd minute.
The disadvantage told on Pres-ton, as Stoke used that to pile on the pressure which resulted in the opening goal six minutes before the half time whistle.
A nice interplay between the trio of Steven Fletcher, Tashan Oakley- Boothe and Mikel resulted in the Nigerian midfield veteran ultimately finding Lee Gregory who tapped home from close range. It was the former Chelsea player’s first goal involvement for Stoke since he arrived in August.
He lasted the whole game for the third Championship match running and produced 64 touches, the fourth-highest among Stoke players while his passing accuracy of 90% from 45 passes was the highest among the Potters starters. Mikel’s assist was the one big chance he created in the game and he also had one successful dribble.
He successfully played three long balls out of four and won three of six ground duels. Michael O’Neil’s men will hope to bag their first home league win of the season when they host Birmingham City next Sunday. Before that is an EFL Cup third-round tie against Aston Villa on Thursday.