League Cup football is back, and Stoke looked to improve on last season’s semi-final finish with a win against League 2 side Stevenage.
The Potters fielded a fairly strong side, with Walters, Muniesa and Cameron making the starting 11 for the first time this season. Peter Crouch was also given a rare start, replacing Mame Diouf up top, which turned out to be a good decision.
A win was always expected for the away side, but in the end Stoke ended up running rampant against Stevenage, putting four past them in dominating fashion.
Peter Crouch would open the scoring, in rather unusual fashion. A nice reverse ball from Arnautovic picks out Adam, who whipped the ball to the far post to Joe Allen. The Welshman headed the ball back into the danger area, where Walters was waiting. His first headed attempt was saved by the keeper, and just as it looked as if we was going to head it into an empty net, in came Crouch to head it in himself.
It was good awareness by Crouch, who showed the instincts of a true striker, but you have to feel for Walters with that one!
Stoke’s second goal would come mid-way through the first half, and my what a goal it was. Phil Bardsley, who showed last season against Sheffield Wednesday that he likes to shoot from range, scored an absolute belter from 25/30 yards out.
The full back picked the ball up down the right from Walters, he came infield a touch, saw the opportunity and sent a bullet of a shot right into the top corner with his weaker left. A wonderful goal from the defender, who looks determined to keep his place in the squad.
It was clear that we were cruising as half time came around, as we showed why we are in the top division of English football.
We started the second half even better than the first, as Crouch got his name on the scoresheet again after just 4 minutes! This was a routine Peter Crouch goal, as Arnautovic hung the ball up to the far post, and the big man was never going to miss, towering over his man and all but sealing the victory.
However, he wasn’t done there! The former England international completed his hat-trick with 70 minutes on the clock, and he did it in some style. The overhead/scissor kick has become accustom to Crouch’s bag of tricks over the years. He usually brings it out on special occasions, and I’m sure he will class tonight as one.
The ball again being crossed in towards the far post towards him, this time by Joe Allen, and Crouch sprung in the air to connect with the scissor kick to finish Stevenage off.
4-0 was the final score, and I can say regardless of how good the team is, it’s good to be on the opposite side of a four goal drumming! Crouch showed tonight that he can still get the job done, and he has given Hughes a lot to think about for Saturdays game against Everton!