STAFFORD RANGERS 1 (Lees 76)
STOKE CITY 1 (Coban 82)
(Stoke City lose 2-1 on penalties)
STOKE CITY exited the Staffordshire Senior Cup on Tuesday evening after being defeated in a penalty shootout at Stafford Rangers.
The first round tie went to penalties after the two sides finished extra time tied at 1-1 after goals from Jack Lees and Yusuf Coban.
Rangers goalkeeper Jon Brain was the hero for the hosts as he saved four of City’s spot-kicks with James Alabi the only player to register for the Potters.
It was Stoke who almost made the perfect start after just five minutes when Alabi raced to the byline and pulled the ball back to Jordan Richardson but the midfielder failed to connect from six yards.
Glyn Hodges’ side continued on the front foot and had two penalty appeals turned down inside a minute. First, Bullock collided with Alabi inside the box, before City had an even bigger shout when Gomez appeared to have been clearly brought down by Michael Carr.
Stoke were almost undone by a long throw from James McCarthy after 15 minutes. The midfielder launched the ball to the far post where Daniel Bachmann was quick off his line to avert the danger at the feet of Jack Langston.
Stafford were starting to come back into the contest and Stoke were fortunate to still have their clean sheet intact minutes later. Bachmann denied Jon Sheldon with a fine save before the ball was worked back into the box and Charlie Ward cleared off the line from Alex Steadman.
The Potters thought they had taken the lead after 30 minutes but Mason Watkins was adjudged to have been in an offside position when he followed in Jordan Keane’s shot.
Glyn Hodges’ side continued their passing game in the second half and almost took the lead in the 50th minute. Alabi played in Adam Thomas, who checked onto his left foot, before forcing Brain to pull off a fine save low to his right.
Brain was in inspired form for Stafford and it was his fingertips that denied Alabi a fine opener. After great approach play down the Stoke right between Thomas and Jordan Keane, the latter whipped the ball into the near post where Alabi had got infront of his marker only to see Brain thwart his close range header.
Karim Rossi was next to try his luck with a 20-yard shot before Keane directed a free header from a Thomas corner wide of the far post.
Rangers weren’t without their own chances, though. Sean Kinsella and Steadman both went close before Ryan O’Reilly expertly headed off his own goal-line under heavy pressure.
With 14 minutes to go the hosts took the lead. Oliver Davies fed Steadman down left and his cross was flicked on by substitute Lees into the far corner of the net.
The Potters responded and were on level terms through a sub of their own. Rossi’s long range effort was parried by Brain into the path of Coban who coolly fired the ball into the roof of the net with eight minutes remaining.
With neither side able to find a winner before the end of 90 minutes, the game went to extra time and it was the Potters who had the better of the chances. Both Coban and Alabi had efforts saved by Brain before the keeper went on to continue his heroics in the shootout.
Stafford Rangers: Brian, Carr, Davies, Spittle, Bullock (c) (Kinsella 28), Johnson, McCarthy, Sheldon, Steadman (Cope 81), Langston, Bell (Lees 66). Subs: Alcock Dacres, Lees, Kinsella, Cope.
Stoke City: Bachmann, Keane (c), Gomez, Ward, O’Reilly (Heneghan 75), Watkins, Thomas, Dawson (Coban 75), Alabi, Rossi, Richardson (Lecyene 65). Subs: Eve, Heneghan, Westley, Lecyene, Coban.