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18:58 2nd January 2010

Stoke City 3 York City 1

STOKE CITY comfortably secured their place in Sunday's FA Cup 4th Round draw by beating Blue Square Premier League promotion hopefuls York City 3-1 at the Britannia Stadium.

Despite suffering an early setback with the visitors taking a surprise first half lead, the Potters bounced back through a Danny Parslow own goal in the 24th minute before Ricardo Fuller put them in front 60 seconds later with a well-taken header.

In-form Matthew Etherington then curled home an exquisite free-kick in the second half to secure victory in a game that at one point looked like it could face a possible postponement after the visitors were held up on the motorway due to the adverse weather conditions.

However, after discussions were held between both City and York officials, as well as the referee and the Police, the match did eventually get underway 30 minutes later than originally scheduled at 3.30pm, just 25 minutes after the York team coach had arrived at the stadium.

Ahead of the game, Tony Pulis made just three changes from the side which slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Birmingham on Monday afternoon. Fuller was handed a start alongside James Beattie at the expense of Turkey skipper Tuncay, whilst Ryan Shawcross' suspension paved the way for Leon Cort to make his first start since the Carling Cup defeat at Portsmouth in October, and Danny Collins was recalled.

After the prolonged delay, the game finally got underway and a couple of trademark Rory Delap long throw-ins caused brief moments of panic inside the Minstermen's six-yard box, before Fuller almost found Liam Lawrence unmarked three-yards out after bursting down the right flank.

The visitors gave their supporters something to shout about in the eighth minute when in 25-goal hitman Richard Brodie fired an audacious effort wide after latching on to Levi Mackin's long punt forward.

City almost found themselves fortuitously ahead five minutes later when York stopper Michael Ingham saw his clearance cannon back towards goal of the leg of the unaware Fuller, but agonisingly for the Potters the ball dropped just wide of the post.

The hosts were left shell-shocked in the 22nd minute when, against all odds, York broke the deadlock. Midfielder Neil Barrett calmly glanced Alex Lawless' in-swinging cross beyond Sorensen and into the far left hand corner of the net, to send the 5,000 travelling supporters into delirium.

However, their lead lasted barely two minutes as City responded immediately as defender Parslow hacked the ball into his own net after attempting to clear Delap's long throw-in away from Etherington, who was hovering inside the six-yard box.

Before the City supporters had even had chance to take their seats following the celebrations, Fuller was on hand to put the home side in front after nodding home another Delap missile after York's backline had failed to clear their lines.

From there on in, anything other than a routine City victory looked extremely unlikely as the hosts looked by far the most likely to add to their afternoon's goal-tally.

The industrious Dean Whitehead drove an effort just wide before Etherington almost sprung on to Fuller's acute through ball, but York keeper Ingham was quick off his line to thwart the danger.

Right on the stroke of half time, Denmark international Sorensen pulled up with what appeared to be a wrist injury after failing to make proper contact with a dangerous ball in to the box; fortunately for the hosts Cort was on hand to fire the ball away with a host of York players ready to turn the ball in to an empty net.

Pulis took no risks during the interval, and as a precaution he brought on Sorensen's understudy Steve Simonsen as his direct replacement, with Tuesday night's crucial Barclays Premier League clash with Fulham at the back of his mind.

Another dangerous set-piece could have resulted in a third goal at the start of the second period, but despite rising highest to meet Lawrence's dangerous ball, giant defender Cort could only head the ball harmlessly over the bar from eight-yards.

Lawrence then curled an effort over after doing well to dispossess Alan McGurk, whilst Brodie spurned York's best chance in the 55th minute after opting to fire the ball straight at Simonsen, despite both Barrett and Michael Rankine standing in dangerous positions inside the penalty box.

The non-league side were made to pay for that two minutes later as the lively Etherington superbly curled home a 25-yard free-kick after defender James Meredith recklessly hacked down Fuller, to all but settle the contest.

Man-of-the-match Fuller then set off on another of his trademark slaloming runs down the flank before neatly cutting inside his defender, but after firing a vicious ball dangerously across the six-yard box, it had just a tad too much pace on it for James Beattie to make contact with, which would have almost certainly resulted in a fourth.

To the delight of the majority of the Britannia Stadium, Pulis introduced Tuncay and Mamady Sidibe late on as he looked to turn the screw into the Minstermen.

The Turkey skipper wasted no time in reminding the City faithful what he is capable of by producing an outstanding piece of skill to free Lawrence on the right hand side of midfield, but after finding Sidibe inside the penalty area, his effort was palmed around the post by former Sunderland man Ingham.

Both sides pushed forward in search of late goals, but despite the best efforts of Whitehead for City and Brodie for the visitors, the match ended 3-1, and City's place in the 4th round was secured.

    Data provided by Press Association


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