STOKE CITY are through to the Fourth Round of the Capital One Cup after securing a 1-0 victory against Fulham on Tuesday night.
Peter Crouch scored his first goal of the season midway in an otherwise uneventful first half after a neat period of play between him and Peter Odemwingie.
The Potters will be thankful to come through the tie at Craven Cottage after the hosts forced Shay Given into several saves in the second half before hitting the crossbar in stoppage time, in what almost turned out to be a repeat of the last round at Luton Town.
Mark Hughes made eight changes to the side that drew with Leicester City in the Premier League three days ago.
Odemwingie was handed his first start in over 12 months while Ibrahim Afellay returned to the starting line-up after completing his two-match ban.
Steve Sidwell captained the side upon his first return to West London after leaving the Cottagers for Stoke last summer.
Geoff Cameron, Marc Wilson and Erik Pieters all kept their place while Crouch, Shay Given, Phil Bardsley, Stephen Ireland and Philipp Wollscheid completed the Potters’ starting line-up.
City had the first half chance after almost 20 minutes when Odemwingie’s shot from 20-yards out zipped wide off the wet surface before Cameron sliced an effort wide from just inside the box.
Both team’s cancelled each other out in the middle of the park but after 30 minutes played, neither side had recorded a single shot on target.
The game was then brought to life on 33 minutes when the Potters took the lead with the tie’s first shot on target.
Crouch recorded his first goal of the campaign after a neat interchange with Odemwingie on the edge of the area, before finding space to cooly slot the ball in the bottom right corner.
Given was then called into action for the first time minutes before the break, brilliantly saving Richard Stearman’s header despite being unaware of the defender being offside.
The Potters went into the interval the happier, although Mark Hughes would have hoped for more killer instinct in what was an opening 45 minutes of very few chances.
HT: Fulham 0-1 Stoke City
City were on the back foot in the opening stages of the second half, as the hosts piled on the pressure with a number of free-kicks around the 18-yard box, which again failed to hit the target.
The game surpassed the hour mark as Fulham looked the livelier going forward and they could have levelled matters on 68 minutes.
Fortunately the sliding Ross McCormack failed to connect properly with a low cross at the back post, with his tame chance falling kindly Given.
The pressure mounted minutes later when substitute Moussa Dembele volleyed over the bar before a mixture of Bardsley and Given thwarted McCormack from 7-yards.
Stoke will feel they should have doubled their advantage with 10 minutes remaining after Marko Arnautovic disguised a brilliant through ball for Odemwinigie in the area, but the Nigerian could only poke his effort off target.
City almost shot themselves in the foot on 85 minutes when Given’s poor clearance on the edge of the box fell for Lasse Vigen Christensen, whose attempted lob from 40-yards thankfully fell wide.
Arnautovic then came close moments later after linking up with Afellay on the edge of the box, but the Austrian’s controlled curling effort fell wide.
It was almost a case of deja vu in stoppage time when Given had to deny Tunnecliffe before Dan Burn slammed the crossbar as City saw out the and earn themselves a place in the last sixteen of the competition.
FT: Fulham 0-1 Stoke City