Stoke City came in to today’s FA Cup fifth round clash as favourites but the Potters were simply swept away by Blackburn with the help of three Joshua King goals and a Rudy Gestede penalty to make the full-time scoreline 4-1.
Here, Rob Lyons discusses five of the major talking points from today’s game.
5. Stoke City complacency
Stoke came into this FA Cup fifth round tie as the favourites and after going ahead early on, from a scrappy Peter Crouch goal, one would be forgiven for thinking the Potters would go on and record a simple victory over the Championship minnows.
This attitude clearly creeped into the Stoke player’s minds too because as the half wore on and as the Ewood Park outfit made their way into the game, Stoke relaxed and allowed themselves slowly but surely come under attack.
The bleeding could have been stopped at half time, however just ten minutes into the second half Blackburn were 4-1 up and Stoke’s chances, especially with ten men, were over.
4. The Potters’ missed chances
Despite losing 4-1, Stoke looked dangerous on occasion in the first half. Mame Biram Diouf was on the end of most of these bursts of positive play from Stoke.
In particular, Diouf’s chance in the 26 minute could have dowsed the flames of a Blackburn revival. Just after the board had went up for eight minutes of first half added time Diouf again had a chance to head home but couldn’t find the right connection, leaving the door open for Rovers to retaliate.
Diouf’s chances are just a sample of some of the opportunities the Potters carved out, which ultimately cost Stoke the game as Blackburn went into the second half knowing they were firmly in the favourites category, leading 2-1.
3. Ugly football
The scoreline may indicate a free-flowing football extravaganza but in truth it was a scrappy cup tie for the majority of proceedings, particularly in the first half.
As mentioned previously, Stoke did boss the game early on but it was Blackburn’s incessant harassing which made the game ugly at times.
However, to blame Rovers for doing this would be wrong as it was clearly effective.
The pitch was also a factor in the beauty of the game suffering, and it was a shame as Blackburn had some brilliant attacking players in Josh King and Craig Conway whilst Stoke have intelligent footballers such as Steven Nzonzi and Victor Moses.
Although the football was ugly at times, this writer is taking nothing away from the way Blackburn attacked Stoke’s rearguard and found openings time after time.
2. Cameron’s sending-off and Gestede’s penalty
Geoff Cameron’s sending-off was the major turning point in the game as Blackburn’s star man Joshua King went to ground in the box under an attempted tackle from the Stoke defender.
Rovers’ top scorer Rudy Gestede tucked away the penalty and from there Stoke were always going to be on the back foot, having to play with ten men for a full half.
The game may have turned out differently had it not been for Cameron’s mistake but nothing can be taken from Gary Bowyer’s men for their performance this afternoon.
1. Joshua King’s magnificent performance
The 23-year-old Norwegian international has certainly put himself in the shop window for managers from the Premier League after today’s performance.
He was admittedly helped by the slackness of Stoke’s defensive line at times as he consistently crept in behind the Potters’ rearguard. This said, he timed the majority of his runs to perfection and was a constant nuisance.
His pace and agility with the ball at his feet was outstanding. It was not just Stoke’s defence who he troubled but also their midfield, as he worked hard for his team to win the ball back high up the pitch before creating opportunities for himself or someone else.
He was worthy of the entrance fee alone, illustrated when he received a standing ovation from the home support as he came off in the 78 minute with the game well and truly wrapped up.
Stoke City go back to the drawing board ahead of next weekend’s clash away to Aston Villa where Mark Hughes must look for a turnaround from two straight 4-1 defeats.
Blackburn face Cardiff City, also away from home, next Tuesday after they find out their sixth round faith on Monday night at 7:30pm.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena
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