Stoke embarrassed by reliant robins
7.45pm 28th August 2012
Despite manager Tony Pulis fielding a strong side against League 1 side Swindon Town at home, The Potters succumbed to a 4-3 defeat against a fluent passing side under the guidance of eccentric boss Paolo Di Canio.
The visitors out-played Stoke for large periods and could have easily been out of sight at half-time with home supporters venting their frustrations towards Pulis as the teams headed for the tunnel.
From the off Swindon dictated play, playing triangles between themselves and moving the Stoke defence from left-to-right, creating some clear-cut chances that were spurned in the opening stages.
A shot from Cameron Jerome straight at Town keeper Wes Foderingham was as good as it got for Stoke in the opening 45 as the Potters` defence was by far the busier, and it wasn`t long before Swindon opened their account.
A short corner was swung in by left-back Jay McEveley and with City 'keeper Thomas Sorensen dropping the ball, predatory striker James Collins fired home.
Stoke were simply being out-played and found it tough to string passes together and shortly before half-time the visitors doubled their advantage.
An in-swinging corner from the left was headed in by Collins for his second after easily peeling away from Kenwyne Jones in the six yard box.
Michael Kightly, who was Stoke brightest spark on the night, tried to get the Potters back into it shortly after the interval but his effort cleared the crossbar. It was however Kightly who had a hand in Stoke pulling one back.
Fine work from the industrious Geoff Cameron down the left, set up Kightly, who swung in a scrumptious ball that Kenwyne Jones couldn`t fail to miss as he guided it home with his head.
Despite the goal, Swindon steadied the ship and carved out a couple of good chances but failed to apply a telling touch.
The triple substitution of Peter Crouch, Jon Walters and Jamie Ness gave back Stoke the initiative as they went in search of an equaliser and it had worked within minutes.
With the Swindon defence unable to deal with Sorensen`s long ball down field, Jon Walters was in the right place to side foot into the net from 12 yards out.
Both teams had chances in the dying minutes of normal time from corners but failed to make them count as the tie headed for extra-time.
Stoke dominated the first 15 minutes as Cameron and Kightly fired in shots that came close to nestling in the back of the net, but Swindon went ahead with a goal on the stroke of half-time.
Matt Richie`s corner was flicked on by substitute Nathan Thompson across goal, leaving centre-half Aden Flint to easily score from a couple of yards out.
Soon after the break in extra-time, Crouch had Stoke back on level terms as he rose above his marker to head home Jon Walters` right wing cross.
Both teams had chances thereafter but it was Swindon who took one of theirs in the final minute of extra-time.
After a simple pass from Dean Whitehead went astray Swindon broke. Sorensen`s one handed save was palmed straight out to Andy Williams who headed across goal for James Collins to turn home despite him being in what looked to be an offside position to complete his hat-trick.
Two late corners failed to materialise anything for Stoke as they exited the cup ahead of a massive few days in the transfer marker and a crucial Premier League campaign for both the manager and the club.
'We have had a few years of being successful in cup competitions, some really good days in the cup, and they have had a good day today so let them celebrate.
'They played a major part in what was an extraordinary game at times tonight.'
Paulo Di Canio:
'We scored four goals and I don't want to exaggerate, but I think we created another five or six clear chances to score.
'I don't think they underestimated us and all the congratulations I received from [Stoke manager] Tony Pulis at the end of the game was special for me because he is an experienced and very good manager who has achieved fantastic things with Stoke.