Wembley Braced For Potters Assault
It’s been a long time coming – 39 years in fact – but Stoke City have made it through to the last four of the FA Cup and have landed the draw that gives them a real chance of reaching the final.
Of course their semi-final opponents Bolton will be thinking exactly the same thing – not out of disrespect, but because both Manchester clubs have been avoided.
They can wait until the final in May – but for now Stoke and Bolton can eye each other up knowing the tie is more than winnable.
A semi-final appearance for Stoke is even rarer than the sight of American football at Wembley but when the Potters arrive at the 90,000 seater venue, their long-raking throws and aerial bombardment will resemble something from a different code.
And Potters boss Tony Pulis will make no apologies for it and although it’s hard to watch, it has served them well up until now.
In fairness, when games become stretched, Stoke’s footballing side does come through on occasion as they have players who, given the opportunity, are comfortable with the ball at their feet.
However, it might not come down to who produces the best football and performance on the day when determining who will face Manchester United or Manchester City in the final.
There were some truly shocking decisions in Stoke’s quarter-final win over West Ham and they went some way in deciding the outcome.
Although Stoke were harshly treated when Frederic Piquionne scored after a clear use of the arm, referee Mike Jones blatantly evened things up when he awarded the home side a dubious penalty despite Matthew Etherington’s clear dive.
The official surpassed this when Jon Walters wrestled James Tomkins to the ground inside the penalty area later in the second half. It was bad enough when Jones failed to point to the spot, but giving a free-kick the other way was a joke that added insult to injury.
Fortunately for Jones, the decisions didn’t affect the right result as Stoke just about deserved it in the end. But considering the Potters have had to wait nearly four decades to reach the semis, and Bolton eleven years, it would be a shame if the outcome of the tie isn’t decided by whoever plays with courage and the right attitude but by inept refereeing.
Tags: Stoke City, FA Cup, Stoke, Tony Pulis, Matthew Etherington, Potters