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Niko's frustration

Posted on 26 October 2009  - 12:00

Niko Kranjcar underlined the importance of converting chances as he reflected on the disappointing defeat against Stoke on Saturday.

Niko Kranjcar underlined the importance of converting chances as he reflected on the disappointing defeat against Stoke on Saturday.

The midfielder went as close as anyone to breaking Stoke's resistance in a dominant first half display when his 25-yarder cannoned back off the post.

Steve Simonsen denied Peter Crouch and Aaron Lennon and when the inspired keeper was beaten, James Beattie somehow hooked Crouch's looping header off the goal-line.

We remained on top in the second half but having made three substitutions, went down to 10 men in the 78th minute when Lennon was injured and Stoke took advantage as Glenn Whelan curled home the winner with four minutes remaining, a real smash and grab raid.

It was only our third defeat in 10 games and it hit hard - although the weekend's results softened the blow somewhat and we remain third in the Barclays Premier League.

"We're all frustrated because it would have been a massive three points for us," reflected Niko.

"We expect to have loads of possession at the Lane and the first goal will always open the game up but we didn't get it.

"It's the old rule in football, if you don't take your chances you might get punished and that's what happened.

"Stoke defended for their lives, they always do and we knew what was waiting for us. Then again, we still created the chances and it would have been a lot easier if we could have scored that first goal.

"We didn't and as I said, the ball just didn't want to go over the line, we didn't score and they took advantage. Fair play to them, they did what they had to do."