Stoke ease past Rochdale in the cup
27th January 2015 8pm
Attendance: 7, 443
Stoke made the trip upto Spotland full of optimism following the 5th Round Draw which preceded the game and offered them a trip back to the North West to face Blackburn if they could see off the League One side.
Boss Mark Hughes showed the amount of respect he had for his opposition by making just two changes from the team which won at Leicester. Ryan Shawcross returned to skipper the team at centre back in place of Marc Muniesa whilst cup goalkeeper Jack Butland replaced Asmir Begovic in goal.
There was a raucous atmosphere inside Spotland as both sets of supporters were buoyed by the results from earlier in the weekend. But it was Stoke who would make the early breakthrough they craved, and it was a touch of Premiership quality again provided by Bojan. He stepped onto a dropping ball on the edge of the box and drilled the ball with his left foot into the corner.
The home side were not intimidated by this though and they soon began to grow into the game and looked comfortable against their Premiership opponents. They had numerous set pieces before a heavy challenge on Victor Moses sparked anger amongst the Stoke players, including Bojan who was booked for the incident.
But more worryingly moments later the Spaniard was on the floor in pain after falling under no pressure and it will be an anxious wait for fans and coaching staff to see what the diagnosis on their starman will be.
Stephen Ireland came on to replace him and Stoke seemed to be stunned by the event, only a couple of smart saves from Butland prevented the sides from going in level at the break.
Hughes made another change at half time bringing on the reliable Steve Sidwell for Steven N'zonzi. The substitution paid dividends as the Potters doubled their lead soon after. Victor Moses terrorised the defender down Stoke's left before firing the ball across for Ireland to steer home from 6 yards out.
The Potters were on top now and oozing confidence and the third goal wasn't far away. Moses picked up the ball and drove into the box before cutting in and riffling the ball into the top right corner from a tight angle to put the game beyond doubt. Walters did miss a simple chance to add a fourth when poking wide from a good position.
The game was over as an event at this point but the hosts continued to press and to their credit they got the goal their performance deserved. It came from a set piece as the cross fell to Rhys Bennett who poked the ball in fro close range.
The Potters weren't phased by this though and there was still time for Walters to grab a fourth after a strong break and cross from Arnautovic was slotted home by Walters to put a gloss on the scoreline.
It was a thoroughly professional performance from the Potters with the only concern for boss Mark Hughes the injury sustanined by Bojan, but with a home game against QPR and an trip to Blackburn in the 5th round to come, Stoke have a lot to look forward to.