DESPITE Danny Cadamarteri’s return to action, Town’s second team slipped to a 1-0 loss at home to Stoke.
The 28-year-old striker played the opening 45 minutes on his return from a knee injury, and alongside Lucas Akins formed a lively attack which nearly gave Town the lead within the first 30 seconds of the match.
Cadamarteri’s muscular presence allowed Akins a shooting opportunity, but the young centre-forward was thwarted by veteran goalkeeper Russell Hoult, who produced a good reflex save to tip his drive out for a corner.
However, it was Stoke who made the breakthrough after five minutes, as Paul Gallagher curled home an unstoppable 25-yard effort, giving Town keeper Simon Eastwood no chance.
Town had another chance almost immediately, when Akins, impressive throughout, outjumped Hoult to a looping cross and the loose ball fell invitingly at the feet of Cadamarteri, only for his shot to be blocked on the goal-line.
A chip over the top from Cadamarteri then picked out Danny Schofield in the penalty area on the quarter of hour mark only for the winger to have his goal-bound attempt hooked away by Gabriel Zakuani.
Meanwhile, at the other end Gallagher proved a constant thorn in Town’s side, and was denied his second of the game thanks to a smart block from Eastwood.
But Stoke’s Scottish under 21 international limped off with an achilles problem six minutes before the interval, as the game swung back in Town’s favour.
Shortly before the hour, John Dungworth’s men had the chance to equalise but full-back Daniel Codman steered his shot over the top after lovely interplay between Schofield and Danny Racchi on the right flank.
Town huffed and puffed in vain for a goal, with Schofield and Racchi dragging shots well-wide late on. But even though Town controlled a scrappy second-half, Stoke’s Jon Parkin should have made it 2-0 at the death after a glorious cross from Carl Dickinson.
Fortunately for the hosts, Eastwood was equal to it.
Town: Eastwood, Hardy, Codman, Mirfin (Jackson, 78 mins), T Clarke, Racchi, Young, Skarz (Bailey, 89 mins), Schofield, Akins, Cadamarteri (Malcher, HT). Subs not used: Roberts.
Stoke City: Hoult, Wilkinson (Thorley, 63 mins), Broomes, Zakuani (Wedderburn, HT), Buxton, De Laet, Grocott, Dickinson, Parkin, Pericard, Gallagher (Phillips, 39 mins). Subs not used: St Louis Hamilton.