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22:36 22nd September 2009

Stoke City 4 Blackpool 3

ANDY GRIFFIN'S strike deep into second half stoppage time secured Stoke City a place in Saturday's Carling Cup 4th Round draw after an enthralling encounter at the Britannia Stadium.

The clash looked set to go all the way to extra time after Ben Burgess' late header made it 3-3, however, with virtually the last kick of the game the former Newcastle United star struck from 18-yards to deservedly send the Potters through at the end of a seven-goal thriller.

Ahead of the game Tony Pulis made wholesale changes from the side which picked up a point at Bolton on Saturday as he looked to give his fringe players a chance to stake their claim for a first team spot ahead of this weekend's eagerly-anticipated clash against Manchester United.

Tuncay and Diego Arismendi were handed their first starts for the Club, whilst the likes of Leon Cort, Tom Soares and Danny Pugh were given the opportunity to work their way back into Pulis' plans.

And while few of them did themselves no favours during a lacklustre first half, which ended with the visitors one goal up thanks to a splendid strike from former Crewe man David Vaughan, the second half brought with it a remarkable turn of events . . . but only after Billy Clarke looked to have ended the contest by doubling the visitors advantage just 60 seconds into the second period.

The Potters were given a lifeline just before the hour mark though when referee Lee Probert adjudged Alex Baptiste to have tripped Tuncay in the 18-yard box. However, Liam Lawrence saw his spot-kick saved, and with it looked to have gone any hopes of a comeback.

How wrong could we be though, because an inspired double substitution from Pulis, which saw the influential Ricardo Fuller and Matthew Etherington introduced, turned the proceedings completely on its head.

Firstly, Danny Higginbotham rose highest to power home Etherington's delightful corner, before the former West Ham winger acrobatically fired home from close range moments later after Tuncay cleverly flicked the ball into his path.

With City's supporters still celebrating, delight turned into euphoria as Fuller took advantage of more good work from the Turkish skipper to clinically fire past Matthew Gilks from 15-yards, leaving the Blackpool players looking shell-shocked.

Credit to them though, because they failed to lie down and their determination to take the tie into an additional 30-minute spell saw Burgess head home in the 84th minute after the impressive Charlie Adam picked him out inside the six-yard box.

A minor injury to Fuller meant the Potters played out the final few minutes with ten men, but that didn't put pay to any hopes of a remarkable victory as Griffin stole the headlines with a wonderful solo effort right at the death.

    Data provided by Press Association


    The Potters played out four replays to finally beat Bury in the FA Cup in 1955