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21:30 23rd August 2016

REPORT: Stevenage 0 Stoke City 4

- League Two side comfortably brushed aside at the Lamex Stadium.
- Peter Crouch nets first Potters hat-trick since January, 2015.
- Phil Bardsley also on target with sensational first-half effort.
- Draw for the Third Round to take place on Wednesday evening following live televised Accrington v Burnley fixture.

PETER CROUCH marked his first action of the new season with three superbly taken goals as the Potters eased into the third round of the EFL Cup.

The former England international netted his first two of the night either side of a stunning effort from defender Phil Bardsley, before adding gloss to an immaculate display with a trademark scissor-kick 20 minutes from time.

Whilst Mark Hughes' side were the overwhelming favourites to progress in the competition, they needed to look back no further than 12 months as a firm reminder of how tricky ties against lower-league opposition can prove to be.

On that occasion Luton Town matched the Potters for long periods of the game before bowing out on penalties, although there was no repeat of that in Hertfordshire as the visitors produced an encouraging, and hugely professional, display.

In fact, the margin of victory could, and probably should, have been far greater than three, with several players going agonisingly close to adding to the visitors tally.

Crouch had a couple of good chances to add to his evening's tally, whilst both Charlie Adam and the impressive Joe Allen went close to rubbing further salt into the Stevenage wounds.

Such was the dominance the Potters had on the game, Hughes was handed the luxury of introducing Egyptian international Ramadan from the bench for the final 30 minutes of the encounter - allowing him to acclimatise further following his summer switch from Al Ahly.

He showed glimpses of his undoubted talents during his 30 minute cameo, whilst the five recalled players all enhanced their claims for a spot in the starting eleven on Merseyside this coming weekend.

This evening though belonged to Crouch, who after heading home two earlier goals, sealed the victory with a beautifully executed acrobatic effort.


Peter Crouch rolled back the years on Tuesday evening - producing a performance of the very highest order to help his side seal a spot in the next round.

His goalscoring contribution was applauded by all four sides of the stadium, with home supporters even breaking into a 'Crouchy for England' chant following his sublime third goal of the evening.

All three of his goals bore trademark traits, with his first two being superbly taken headers whilst his third was a replica of several other superb goals he has scored throughout his career - one of which came against the Potters during his time at Portsmouth.

The veteran striker's last triple came almost six years ago to the day, with his hat-trick for Spurs helping them to victory over Young Boys in the Champions League.


Phil Bardsley's scintillating effort midway through the first-half was undoubtedly an early goal of the season contender.

The full-back, who made his third start of the season, let rip a thunderous effort from 35-yards that flew beyond the outstretched Jamie Jones and into the top corner of the net.

Such was the audacity of the strike, both his teammates and the travelling army of supporters took several seconds to celebrate the goal - probably in disbelief of what they had just seen.

They maybe shouldn't have been too stunned however, as the defender has a proven history of scoring long-range goals in the League Cup.

He netted a 25-yard free-kick in the win over Sheffield Wednesday in the Quarter-Final of the competition last season, and netted a famous goal against Manchester United, at Old Trafford, a couple of years earlier - one that helped secure former club Sunderland a place in the showpiece Final.

Let's hope he has a couple more up his sleeve as the Potters plot another run deep into the latter stages of the League Cup...


Five players were handed the opportunity to stake a real claim for a spot in the starting eleven against Everton in the Premier League this coming weekend.

Mark Hughes made a quintet of changes to his eleven from the one that succumbed to defeat at home to Manchester City on Saturday, with Geoff Cameron, Marc Muniesa, Charlie Adam, Jonathan Walters and Peter Crouch all being included.

Whilst Walters got some minutes under his belt three days earlier, the clash at the Lamex Stadium represented the first competitive action of the term for the four other recalled players.

They undoubtedly benefitted from the action, and certainly did themselves no harm whatsoever, especially Crouch, of forcing themselves into the reckoning for the trip to Goodison Park in four days time.


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