Potters taken to 3rd round replay
Stoke have been forced into a tricky FA Cup 3rd round replay after drawing at home 1-1 to high flying Championship side Cardiff. Tuncay`s super equaliser just before half-time cancelled out Michael Chopra`s opener in a poor opening period. However, it was all the Potters in the second half and Tuncay, Fuller and Jones all wasted excellent chances to win it.
Tony Pulis made several changes from the side that narrowly lost at Old Trafford on Tuesday. Thomas Sorensen was back between the sticks behind a back four consisting of the regulars Shawcross, Huth and Higginbotham, while there was a home debut for exciting right back Ryan Shotton. There were rare starts for Glenn Whelan, Marc Wilson and Tuncay, while Walters and Fuller spearheaded up a strong attacking line-up. Unfortunately for Cardiff there was no Beast, as Jon Parkin`s injury ruled him out of a return to the Brit.
Stoke started the match slowly and found themselves a goal behind after just 8 minutes. Peter Whittingham`s pin point cross found Chopra in acres of space, just 10 yards from goal. His glancing header cannoned the post and the ball fell nicely for him as he tapped it past a helpless Sorensen.
The Potters were very flat in the opening period and only Tuncay posed any direct threat to the Cardiff back line. Walters was typically tenacious but neither he nor Fuller had any real impact going forward. Meanwhile at the other end, on-loan Andy Keogh wasted a golden opportunity to double the Bluebirds advantage but he headed straight at Sorensen and Stoke were let off the hook.
Marc Wilson almost made Keogh pay but his curling 30 yard free-kick crashed off the bar, while Tuncay shot straight at the keeper when clear through on goal. It was a frustrating first half but Ryan Shotton grew into the game and was superb in his home debut. The young full-back didn`t put a foot wrong and showed his great potential.
As the half drew to a close Stoke did equalise through Tuncay. A long goal kick was flicked into the Turk`s path as he cut in from the left. After carrying it to the edge of the box he beat Marshall with a low drive into the bottom corner and parity was restored.
Pulis`s stern half-time words clearly worked as the Potters dominated the whole second half with relentless attacks on the Championship side. Pennant`s low cross was intelligently dummied by Fuller, leaving Tuncay free with the goal gaping. Sadly he fluffed his shot straight at Marshall, and Cardiff got lucky.
The Potters won 13 corners in the second half as the wave of attacks grew stronger and stronger. Shawcross and Huth were both inches away from connecting with a Pennant in swinger, while Whelan blazed over when well placed. The introduction of Etherington made it seem inevitable that the ball was going in as his pace and directness had defenders all over the place.
Fuller`s poor form continued as he headed wide when in a similar place to Chopra and Etherington blazed over from the edge of the box with Tuncay unmarked and screaming for it at the back post. Then substitute Jones picked his way through 3 or 4 tackles and looked to win it with a magnificent goal, but Marshall was quick off his line to smother the shot.
Again and again the Potters piled forward and it was a testament to Dave Jones`s side that they didn`t buckle under the intense pressure. Fuller went close again when his downward header from a Higginbotham cross clipped the bar, and you knew then that it just wasn`t going in. Something that was confirmed in the dying minutes as a Delap missile was headed over from Jones with the keeper in no mans land.
So a replay in Wales now awaits and the Potters have it all to if it they want to progress. The 4th round draw takes place Sunday evening and all we can pray for is a home tie if we manage to negotiate our way past Cardiff in 10 days. Next Saturday is a home league match against 6th placed Bolton.
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