Stoke set league form aside to ease through in FA Cup



Posted Monday, January 09, 2023 by PA

Stoke set league form aside to ease through in FA Cup

Stoke’s Championship struggles were put aside with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Hartlepool to secure a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Alex Neil’s side secured a two-goal cushion at half-time and Pools, fighting against relegation in League Two, could not find a way back.

An own goal from Hartlepool defender Euan Murray in the 16th minute was followed by a predatory Jacob Brown strike two minutes before the break to put Stoke in control.

Even though Hartlepool had their moments, particularly in the first half, Neil’s men never really looked like throwing that advantage away and Rollin Menayese also put into his own net two minutes after the restart.

The Stoke boss might have made five changes from the side that lost the last league game to Preston but this was still a strong line-up and he got his rewards.

Given Hartlepool’s recent improvements in league form, Neil’s opposite number Keith Curle named his strongest available line-up in a bid to guide them into the fourth round for the second year in a row.

But Hartlepool’s poor start defensively proved costly.

Wing-back Reghan Tumilty’s hesitancy had already gifted former Pools midfielder Josh Laurent an early chance. Goalkeeper Ben Killip prevented that effort from going in but the home side were behind soon after.

Stoke wing-back Josh Tymon’s low drive into the six-yard box forced Murray into an attempted clearance that was sliced high into his own net.

Hartlepool’s response was positive. In fact, Jack Hamilton should have levelled within a couple of minutes when his poor header from Mark Shelton’s cross dropped wide from eight yards.

Hartlepool’s leading scorer Josh Umerah also had an effort that flew wide from distance and he came close to turning in from close range in a crowded area.

But Stoke finished the half stronger and got their rewards. Tymon’s through pass was perfect for Brown, who was onside despite claims for a flag, to race on to, round Killip and slot in from a tight angle.

His fourth goal of the season was almost followed immediately by a third Stoke goal as Jordan Thompson drove inches wide from 22 yards.

Stoke soon added to the lead. After Liam Delap had forced Killip into a low stop, Menayese scored the second own goal of the game by turning in Harrison Clarke’s cross inside the six-yard box.

After that Laurent fired wide and Dwight Gayle, on as a substitute, threatened to end his long wait for a Stoke goal.

The former Newcastle man, who moved in the summer and is without a goal since December 2020, acrobatically volleyed wide before Killip got down low to save another effort.

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