Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Thursday February 25 2010
24th February 2010
At the third time of asking, Stoke finally saw off the Mancunian billionaires in a 3-1 thriller at the Brit that saw the Potters progress to the FA Cup quarter finals for the first time since 1972. Two 1-1 draws over the last couple of weeks in the League and Cup had turned into yet another 1-1 draw by the end of the 90 minutes last night, but two goals in extra time from Ryan Shawcross and Tuncay made sure that the Wembley dream stays alive for now at least.
Those London billionaires now await the Potters at Stamford Bridge in ten days time, but we've now got a couple of days of respite before the Gunners arrive at the Brit on Saturday - these are heady times for Stoke fans.
The first half was a fairly drab affair, not helped by a slow start from Stoke that gave the early impetus to the visitors who were still without Tevez but buoyed by Craig Bellamy's return from injury. They might well have been two goals up by the interval except for two cracking saves from Thomas Sorensen which denied Adebayor and Bellamy. It was well into the second period of the match before the action really started and Tony Pulis made the first of his three, inspired substitutions. Salif Diao, who had been given a start after his match winning heroics at Pompey on Saturday, was swapped for Tuncay early in the second half as Pulis threw down the gauntlet to Mancini in the opposite dug-out. Mancinci's reply was to bring on the nippy little Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Danny Pugh came on soon after on for a tiring Liam Lawrence and then with his final throw of the dice the prodigal son appeared, aka Dave Kitson. This was Kit's first appearance at the Brit since September and he was obviously determined that the manager wouldn't forget it. Just five minutes in and Tuncay and Kitson showed what a 'one-dimensional' team we aren't with some neat moves which ended with him sliding the ball between two defenders and the keeper into the back of the net.
Cue hysteria... but it didn't last the long as we forgot the golden rule of manning the ramparts - just a couple of minutes later Stoke failed to deal with the ball in the penalty area and Bellamy found that he had acres of space to shoot into the right hand side of the net.
So back to that familiar scoreline: 1-1. But referee, Steve Bennett was to throw us a glimmer of an advantage when Adebayor's trailing arm caught Ryan Shawcross in the face as both battled with the ball. Bennett showed him a red card and suddenly the tie had turned in our favour.
With the minutes ticking away to end of normal time, both Fuller and Shawcross saw their attempts go inches wide of the Citizens' goal. So we went into extra time with the Potters taking control on 95 minutes. It was classic Delap/Shawcross stuff. Rory fired it in from the touchline and Ryan headed it into an empty net with Given stranded. This time dear old Mr Wiley was not present to disallow it and the Potters were ahead again.
We then made victory certain five minutes later when Glenn Whelan gained possession on the half way line, went round two men before crossing to Tuncay on the edge of the penalty area. He then slipped past two more players to fire past Given and Lescott into the back of the net.
So we stay unbeaten in 2010 - that's now eleven games in all with Arsenal back at the Brit on Saturday as we try and make that three home victories in a row against the Gunners.
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Date:Thursday February 25 2010
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