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Match Reports

Report: Stoke City 3-1 Stevenage

29 January 2023

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Jim Steele

Stevenage are knocked out in Round Four of The FA Cup at the hands of Stoke City...

Stevenage entered the Fourth Round of The FA Cup for just the fifth time in the club’s history with a trip to Championship side Stoke City being the task at hand. Steve Evans named an unchanged side from last weekend’s thrashing over league leaders Leyton Orient.

Over three thousand Boro fans made the trip to the bet365 stadium in the hopes of another shocking cup upset. However, the hosts took the lead after just two minutes. Bersant Celina’s corner met the head of Ben Wilmot who flicked it onto Jacob Brown to fire home from close-range.

The early goal failed to keep the travelling support quiet though, as the dream of a victory was far from over. Stevenage pressed high up the pitch and looked to cause mistakes from the Stoke defence. Steve Evans very quickly changed his formation from a back five to a back four, with Terence Vancooten slotting into midfield.

After just seventeen minutes, Evans then opted for an early substitution, with Jordan Roberts being replaced by the Third-Round hero, Dean Campbell.

Stoke broke away on the counterattack a few minutes later, but Bersant Celina’s effort was kept-out by Taye Ashby-Hammond. From the resulting corner, former Boro man Ben Wilmot saw his header cleared off the line by Max Clark.

Stevenage enjoyed a nice spell of build-up play before the half-hour mark. The move resulted in Terence Vancooten’s cross finding Jamie Reid, who tried his luck on the volley but fired over.

The Potters came extremely close to doubling their lead soon after as Tyrese Campbell laid it off to Will Smallbone inside the area, but Taye Ashby-Hammond stretched across goal to superbly deny the midfielder’s effort.

Just before the interval, Stevenage were forced into a second change. Terence Vancooten looked in discomfort with his upper leg and was therefore replaced by Jake Taylor in midfield. The fourth official then showed five minutes to be played at the end of the first half.

At half-time Evans made his third substitution as most recent January signing, Jonathan Tomkinson, came on for his second appearance in place of Max Clark. Luther James-Wildin moved to left wing-back with Jake Taylor occupying the right wing-back role.

Ten minutes later, two more changes were made by the visitors as Luke Norris and Kane Smith were introduced in place of Danny Rose and Alex Gilbey respectively.

Stevenage were prepared to put bodies on the line and fight hard for a result against Championship opposition. Just after the hour mark, there were loud handball claims from supporters and players inside the Stoke box, but Boro were not awarded a penalty. Stevenage continued to apply the pressure as Jamie Reid got his shot off, but Jack Bonham caught it well.

The Potters were on the front foot soon after though as Bersant Celina’s effort was blocked by Jonathan Tomkinson and ricocheted off the post. Taye Ashby-Hammond was called into action moments later as he denied Lewis Baker’s shot.

With twenty minutes to go, Stevenage found their equaliser. Jake Taylor’s flick on sent Jamie Reid through on goal, as the forward slotted it past Jack Bonham to level the scoring.

Boro fans behind the goal were ecstatic, but Stoke, unfortunately, regained their lead two minutes later. Josh Laurent picked up the ball from outside the area, before firing into the top corner to get his side’s second of the afternoon.

Stevenage refused to be down and out after the goal and looked to quickly equalise once again. Jake Taylor had an opportunity on goal from inside the box, but he fired into the side netting.

With ten minutes to go, Jonathan Tomkinson appeared to have won the ball with a slide tackle inside the area, but the referee deemed it to be a foul and Stoke were awarded a penalty. Lewis Baker stepped up to take before firing into top left corner to give his side a two-goal advantage.

The remaining ten minutes were slow as Stoke looked to see out the game and Boro had a mountain to climb. Eventually, the referee blew for full-time to send Stevenage out of the 2022/23 FA Cup. It was an exciting cup run, but the attention now turns to earning promotion from Sky Bet League Two.

Attendance: 14,392 including 3,291 away supporters.

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