TONY PULIS saluted the “British bulldog spirit” of Jonathan Walters after he bounced back from an unfortunate time at the weekend by emerging as Stoke City’s FA Cup hero in their third round replay triumph over Crystal Palace.
Pulis admitted that he hadn’t planned to play the Republic of Ireland international in the Palace tie until things went horribly wrong for him in the 4-0 defeat to Chelsea when he scored two own goals and then missed a late penalty.
Walters scored twice at the right end on this occasion in extra-time as City overcame the Eagles to set up a meeting with Manchester City.
“I had planned to give Jon a rest for this game, but after what happened to him on Saturday, I thought the best thing was to get him out there again,” revealed City’s manager after the 4-1 victory over the Championship high-flyers.
“Scoring the two goals and playing the way he did tonight will have done him a world of good, but it doesn’t surprise me one little bit.
“Jon is a very gifted individual in lots of respects and one of his biggest assets is that he has a big heart – the British bulldog spirit.”
Pulis felt that the final scoreline flattered his side a little, but was disappointed that the replay went to extra-time after Palace were awarded their second penalty of the night late on which was converted by Glenn Murray.
“To run out 4-1 winners wasn’t a reflection of how well Palace played on the night,” he added in reflecting on the third round tie.
“It was a close game and we always knew that they would get chances as time went on because of the way that they play.
“Having said that, the two penalties were no more than 50-50 in my opinion. That’s four penalties in as many matches that have been awarded against us and none of them have been blatant ones, so we feel a little hard done by.”
He added: “Extra-time was the last thing either Ian Holloway or myself wanted, but the fitness levels and energy of our players is exceptional and I felt that showed when it went that far. There only looked one winner then.”
Pulis is relishing the prospect of taking on Manchester City in what will be a re-run of the FA Cup Final between the two sides in 2011.
“It’s fantastic for us as a Club and it’s fantastic for the supporters too, especially the 11,000 who turned up on a cold night,” he said.
“We’ve now lost only twice in 14 FA Cup ties over the past three seasons. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could make it 15 next week.
“Before then though, we’ve got a really tough trip to Swansea at the weekend and we have to concentrate on that game first.”