Soccer

Alex Neil warns Stoke are ‘only going to get better’ after third win in a week

Alex Neil wants Stoke to maintain their momentum (Nigel French/PA)
Alex Neil wants Stoke to maintain their momentum (Nigel French/PA) Alex Neil wants Stoke to maintain their momentum (Nigel French/PA)

Alex Neil claims the last seven days have shown what his Stoke side are capable of in the remainder of the Sky Bet Championship season.

Having started the campaign reasonably slowly, the Potters have exploded into life in the past week with successive victories over Sunderland, Leeds and Middlesbrough.

The latest of those wins saw them triumph 2-0 over Boro at the Riverside Stadium thanks to first-half goals from Michael Rose and Mehdi Leris.

The win saw Stoke climb into the top half of the table for the first time this season, with Neil confident his side will only get better as his summer signings continue to bed in.

He said: “I think the last three results and performances show where we could get to. It shows the potential.

“I think we look relatively settled now in terms of how we’re going to play, and we’ve managed to churn out three great performances and three great results in a row.

“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves – I think there’s been too many false dawns at Stoke, but I think, for us, we’ve got great potential and great scope. We’re only going to get better, and I’m expecting us to be good this season.”

Stoke’s win was achieved without goalkeeper Mark Travers, who was recalled by his parent club Bournemouth on Friday because of an injury to their first-choice Neto.

Neil said: “We’re gutted. You want as many strong players in your squad as you can. To lose Trav is hugely disappointing, especially because I thought he was coming on to a great game just before he left.

“He was feeling at ease at the club. It’s only just into double figures of games that he’s played for us, but unfortunately he’s had to go back. That’s a blow, but football’s always challenging somewhere along the line.”

Middlesbrough were chasing the game from the moment Rose headed home from a corner in the eighth minute, and fell further behind when Leris fired an angled drive into the bottom corner eight minutes before the break.

Josh Coburn struck the crossbar with a long-range drive, but Michael Carrick admitted his side had fallen short of the standards they had set as they embarked on a seven-game winning run that is now at an end.

Carrick said: “It’s disappointing. You’ve got to put things into perspective as well though. They are a good team, and if you are little bit off it then you get punished in this league.

“It just shows the levels that it takes to win games and look like you’re winning well. We were just a little bit off it really, from the start you could just feel we weren’t quite there.

“Even then, at half-time, I thought we finished the half well enough where there was enough in it there to have a real good go in the second half. It just didn’t really materialise in the end.”