Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Wednesday August 23 2006
Stoke sunk to one of their poorest performances as they let a 10 man Darlington overturn a 1-0 lead to beat them 1-2 in one of the lowest attendances at the Britannia Stadium.
Stoke fans should, by now, be used to going out of the League Cup to lower league opposition in the first round but even this dismal performance reached new depths as the fans booed the players and the players argued amongst themselves at the final whistle. As I predicted in the match preview, Stoke looked for the inevitable banana skin by not giving the League 2 visitors the respect they deserved.
Pulis started the game by giving Harper his first run out after overcoming a long term injury. Pulis' son, Anthony had his first senior start together with Jeff Whitely who has joined on loan from Cardiff until Christmas. Chadwick, Brammer and Hoefkens were rested.
After fifteen minutes, Stoke were handed a gilt-edged invitation to the second round when Darlington's Craig James was sent off for violent conduct after a fairly innocuous incident with Kevin Harper down by the Darlington corner post resulted in James pushing Harper. It took another fifteen minutes for the Potters to make anything of the one man difference when Vincent Pericard managed to fire Carl Dickenson's cross into the back of the net from 15 yards to put Stoke in front.
Stoke failed to capitalise on their lead and paid dearly just before half time when Carlos Logan suddenly fired a shot past Steve Simonsen into the left hand side of the net. After half time, Stoke failed to find second gear and in the 52nd minute the Quaker's new signing, Johan Joachim scored from 20 yards out with the ball going over a stranded Simonsen.
Eventually, Pericard had the ball in the back of the net again on 69 minutes, but the referee ruled that the ball had gone out of play before being crossed by Pulis.
By the end of 90 minutes Stoke had finally come to life and threw everything, including the sink out of the changing room but this was far too little - far too late for the Potters.
Nothing must be taken away from a spirited display by Darlington who played well and deserved their win, but this was a night when Stoke managed to throw away a game all by themselves.
Stoke: Simonsen, Russell, Duberry, Hill, Dickinson, Harper (Paterson 64), Pulis, Whitley (Eustace 64), Sweeney, Sidibe (Sigurdsson 73), Pericard.
Subs Not Used: Garrett, Duggan.
Darlington: Stockdale, Close, Collins, Holloway, James, Ngoma, Duke, Cummins, Johnson (Giallanza 73), Carlos Logan (Rowson 59), Joachim (Wainwright 85).
Subs Not Used: Russell, Maddison.
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Date:Wednesday August 23 2006
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