Stoke stroll past cup minnows
Stoke progressed through to the 4th round of the FA Cup after a comfortable 3-1 victory over York City. A fully strengthened team boasting the likes of Ricardo Fuller and Matthew Etherington fell behind to an early Neil Barrett header, but they hit back in style with two in two minutes thanks to a Danny Parslow own goal and a Ricardo Fuller header.
Matthew Etherington then later curled in an exquisite free-kick to kill off the opposition in another impressive performance from him.
Surprisingly Tony Pulis only made 3 changes from the side that lost to Birmingham. Ricardo Fuller came in for the rested Tuncay upfront and both Leon Cort and Danny Collins deputised for the banned Ryan Shawcross and rested Abdoulaye Faye.
Finally the game got under way after a half hour delay as the visitors failed to negotiate their way through the jammed M62 and M6. However all the waiting around seemed to fire up the Potters as they started the much quicker side.
Ricardo Fuller`s pace down both side`s caused York all kind of problems and Rory Delap`s throws caused panic in the penalty box. However the Potters failed to retain possession for prolonged periods and this allowed The Minstermen to progress towards Thomas Sorensen`s goal. Centre forward Richard Brodie fired an effort wide from outside the area as they started to worry Stoke.
York then sent there 4,000 fans wild after 22 minutes as they managed to take the lead. A free-kick in a dangerous area on the far left was whipped in by Alex Lawless and was flicked in by Neil Barrett. Sorensen was helpless and the Potters lamented not having a man guarding the post.
This fired Stoke up and provoked a positive response as they immediately equalised. A long throw into the box by Rory Delap looked like it was going all the way through to Etherington at the far post but Parslow beat him too it and sliced the ball into the back of his own net giving the keeper no chance.
This livened up the crowd and Stoke then went and took the lead. Another flat throw by Delap wasn`t properly dealt with by York and the ball popped up to Fuller on his own in the six yard box and he calmly headed the ball past Michael Ingham in goal.
The Home side looked to add more as the impressive work horse Dean Whitehead went close and Etherington almost set-up Beattie.
Both Fuller and Etherington were the creative sparks throughout the game as both Beattie and Lawrence struggled. Danny Parslow`s afternoon was gradually getting worse as Fuller and Etherington continually turned him inside out.
York pushed for an equaliser just before half-time but the centre-backs of captain Danny Higginbotham and Leon Cort remained strong, as both went on to have good games.
At half-time keeper Thomas Sorensen was forced off with a finger injury and so Steve Simonsen, who many thought would start anyway, came on to replace him.
Stoke seemed comfortable at the beginning of the second period and Dean Whitehead was dominant in central midfield as his passing and tackling was too good for the Conference side.
Leon Cort went close to adding a third but Lawrence`s free-kick was just a yard too far in front of him sliding in.
The Potters then put the game beyond York as Matthew Etherington curled a magnificent free-kick over the wall and into the top corner capping off a brilliant display.
James Beattie then went within inches of adding a fourth after Fuller went on one his trademark mazy runs to the by-line and his cutback just got a nick from a defender diverting it away from Beattie.
Tuncay and Sidibe both enjoyed late cameo`s as they wound the game down until the final whistle.
Stoke will find out there next FA Cup opponents tomorrow but thoughts must now go back to the league and the upcoming game with Fulham on Tuesday.