STOKE CITY will have to overcome a 3rd Round replay against Crystal Palace if they are to secure themselves a spot in the 4th Round of the competition . . . following a goalless draw at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
The Potters were held by the Championship high-flyers in what proved to be a relatively disappointing encounter in South London, although they will feel disappointed not to have won the game having seen Peter Crouch squander the best opportunity of the game.
The result means that the two sides will lock horns again at the Britannia Stadium on Tuesday, January 15, for a spot in the next round of the competition.
Prior to kick-off Tony Pulis handed Michael Owen his first start for the Club, ironically at the same stadium in which he made his professional debut for Liverpool some 16 years ago.
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star partnered England international Crouch in attack, whilst the midfield quartet included Steven Nzonzi, who had earlier in the week won his appeal against the dismissal he received against Southampton.
Thomas Sorensen returned to the starting line-up to make only his second start of the campaign, with Pulis opting to rest regular number one Asmir Begovic.
The hosts, who are managed by Ian Holloway, included in demand winger Wilfired Zaha in their side, however, he Holloway against starting the Championship's top-goalscorer Glenn Murray - omitting him from the squad completely.
In what was already proving to be a day of cup shocks, following Brighton's early afternoon victory against Newcastle, Palace kicked the game off and looked the more likely of the two sides to open the scoring.
Midfielder Dean Moxey forced Sorensen into a superb save just three minutes in with a curling effort from 25-yards, whilst Robert Huth had to be alert to thwart Jermaine Easter, as he looked to pounce on a dangerous Yannick Bolasie centre.
Stoke did gradually ease themselves into the game, and arguably spurned the best chance of the afternoon when Crouch met a clever Owen flick, but was unable to keep his strike on target from just three yards out.
The giant striker will again feel aggrieved not to have done better ten minutes later, having failed to test 'keeper Lewis Price after Walters had picked him out unmarked with aplomb of a cross.
Ryan Shotton was slightly lucky not to have found his way into referee Neil Swarbrick's book following a clumsy challenge on Zaha, but there was no escaping the book for Eagles star Stuart O'Keefe, who was cautioned after leaving Walters in a heap.
Dean Whitehead skewed an effort well wide of target in the encounter's next real meaningful attack, whilst at the other end Zaha fired over from 15-yards, when he really should have hit the target.
Neither boss deemed it necessary to make any changes during the interval, although both were quick to switch things around following a stale start to the second period.
For Stoke, Charlie Adam and Cameron Jerome were both introduced at the expense of Owen and Kightly, whilst Holloway withdrew a hobbling Zaha, and replaced him with Jonathan Williams.
Jerome almost immediately displayed his quality from the bench by storming past two defenders and forcing Price into a good save, before Adam was unsuccessful in an audacious attempt to catch Price off guard from just inside the Palace half.
Sorensen was equal to the several half hearted attempts fired at him from range as the hosts looked to forge a way through one of the tightest defence's in the country.
In-form striker Kenwyne Jones was introduced from the bench midway through the half in a bid to freshen up the frontline, with Crouch the player to make way for the Trinidadian skipper.
With both side's pushing for a late goal, it came as no surprise to see the game open up during the latter stages.
However, Jermaine Easter was unable to hit the target after Williams had picked him out unmarked inside the 18-yard box, whilst Geoff Cameron's teasing ball across goal evaded the outstretched foot of Jones in stoppage time.