MATCH REPORT: STEVENAGE 0, STOKE CITY 4
Stevenage were knocked out of the EFL Cup at the second round stage after a Peter Crouch hat-trick inspired Stoke to a 4-0 win at The Lamex Stadium this evening.
First half goals from Crouch and Phil Bardsley were added to in the second half with two more for the former England international as the Premier League side put in a hugely professional and clinical performance.
Stevenage boss Darren Sarll made four changes from the weekend win over Luton with Andrew Fox, Dale Gorman, Tom Pett, and Rowan Liburd coming in for Dean Wells, Tom Conlon, Matt Godden and Jobi McAnuff, the latter two of whom were on the bench.
It was Boro who registered the first shot on target when Stoke failed to clear a long Lee throw convincingly. Jake Hyde turned neatly and shot but straight at Shay Given.
Two minutes later Jamie Jones turned away a Joe Allen shot, after a Peter Crouch header, although the pair were to combine for Stoke’s opener 60 seconds later. Marko Arnautovic found Charlie Adam and his cross was headed back by Allen for Walters to rattle the bar and Crouch to nod home to give the Premier League side the lead.
Phil Bardsley isn’t a regular name on the Stoke City scoresheet but on 32 minutes he found the back of the net in fine fashion, firing home from fully 30 yards with an effort that flew over Jones into the opposite top corner.
Jones denied Crouch a second goal in the opening 45 minutes with a fine save from a Bardsley cross. However Boro’s ‘keeper could do little to prevent the striker scoring two minutes after the break, when he headed an Arnautovic cross from the left into the bottom corner for 3-0.
Stevenage battled hard all evening and were by no means disgraced in front of a large home crowd, carving out a couple of chances of their own around the hour mark.
First a long ball from Gorman fell to McAnuff and his low driven cross was defended out for a corner.
Then on 67 minutes a deflected Gorman shot saw Boro awarded a corner. Luke Wilkinson rose above everybody but couldn’t head McAnuff’s delivery on target.
Moments later Peter Crouch notched his hat-trick and in acrobatic style. The lively Joe Allen burst into the box and put up a cross to the back post where Crouch found the back of the net with a fine scissor kick.
Stevenage nearly earned themselves a consolation with 15 minutes remaining when good work by McAnuff saw the ball fall to Dale Gorman. The midfielder opted for placed over power but fired straight at Given.
Crouch and Adam again went close in the final stages of the game – the latter denied by a fine Jones save – as the Premier League side saw out the match professionally.
Stoke march into Round 3 in convincing style with Stevenage’s attention now turning to Saturday’s Sky Bet League 2 trip to Grimsby Town.
Stevenage: Jones, Henry, Wilkinson, Franks, Fox,, Pett, Lee (Tonge 66), Gorman, Hunte (McAnuff 57), Hyde (Godden 57)
Subs not used: Day, Kennedy, Donnellan, Kerr
Stoke City: Given, Bardsley, Shawcross (Pieters 73), Cameron, Muniesa, Whelan, Allen (Bojan 84), Adam, Arnautovic (Ramadan 60), Crouch, Walters
Subs not used: Bachmann, Joselu, Diouf, Imbula, Bojan
Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 3,363 (854 away)