Thirty year cup high for Stoke
11th November 2008
Stoke comfortably saw off Rotherham to make sure of their place in the Quarter Finals of the Carling Cup for the first time since 1978.
The Potters were fielding a significant proportion of their reserve line-up, led by Glenn Whelan who was making his first appearance for Stoke with the captain's armband. Tony Pulis took the opportunity to rest many of the first team players ahead of Saturday's massive test against Manchester United at Old Trafford, but did put Ricardo Fuller and Rory Delap on the bench - just in case.
Whilst Ricardo did come on towards the end, the Potters' starting eleven rarely had to move out of first gear as the Millers gave a creditable performance but were no match for what was the mostly last season's Championship promotion side.
Stoke really should have won by a greater margin, but poor misses from Ryan Shawcross and Vincent Pericard meant that it was not until the 19th minute that the Potters were able to move into the lead. Stoke were awarded a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area and Glenn Whelan spotted that the Millers' keeper was over to the right of the goal and promptly curled the ball over the wall and into the left hand corner of the net.
The second half saw Stoke take the game firmly by the scruff of the neck, despite a spirited battle from Rotherham who refused to give up and they gave Steve Simonsen one or two heart stopping moments before the Potters doubled their advantage on 59 minutes with some neat play between Dave Kitson, Vincent Pericard and, finally, Danny Pugh who raced through them all to fire the ball past the keeper. Pugh then celebrated his first goal for the Stoke first team with an impressive cart-wheel in front of the Boothen End.
With a two goal cushion, Stoke were able to command the game and played some good football with Pericard making way for Fuller alongside Dave Kitson, who was growing in confidence up front. Kitson is still lacking that first goal for his new club but the Boothen End was attempting to suck the ball into the net with some stirring support for the former Reading striker. He should have had his (and our) wishes answered with just a few minutes remaining as he pounced on a ball that the keeper, Andy Warrington, had failed to hold and fired it home, but was clearly offside.
A good performance from Stoke and we're in Saturday's draw for the last eight and (dare we say it) just two wins from a trip to Wembley. Pulis will have to make some difficult decisions for the starting eleven in the next round as this cup run now becomes much more serious. But the Potters can surely fear no-one - as long as we can get another home draw.
Stoke City: Simonsen, Wilkinson, Cort, Shawcross, Dickinson, Pugh, Whelan, Olofinjana (Amdy Faye 58), Cresswell, Kitson, Pericard (Fuller 73)
Subs not used: Sorensen, Delap, Phillips, Sonko, Wedderburn
Rotherham: Warrington, Mills, Sharps, Fenton, Nicholas, Rhodes, Danny Harrison (Taylor 70), Cummins, Tonge, Broughton (Yates 88), Reid
Subs not used: Annerson, Hudson, Joseph, Green, Garcia.