STOKE CITY fell at the first hurdle in the Staffordshire Senior Cup after a 3-2 defeat at Norton United.
The Potters, who were represented by a squad of players from the Club’s Academy, were fired into the lead by James Alabi, but a trio of first-half goals from the hosts put them firmly in control.
It was a lead they defended resolutely and successfully throughout the second period, although Jordan Richardson’s strike in stoppage-time meant a hectic finale.
In the end, it proved no more than a consolation as City bowed out at the first stage of a competition they have won 14 times.
Elite Development Coach Dave Kevan took charge of the side for Wednesday evening’s game, and selected an outfit comprised of Under-21 and Under-18 players.
Derice Richards and Andy Musungu operated the flanks, while Alabi was joined by Karim Rossi up front and Dan Bachmann returned between the sticks.
It was Richardson, though, who tested the home ‘keeper’s handling initially when a burst from midfield allowed him space to shoot from 25 yards.
Bachmann produced an outstanding stop to deny Daniel Brown up the other end, and Stoke took full advantage by taking the lead just after the quarter hour.
Alabi showed purpose in possession by skipping past two challenges before drilling confidently past the goalkeeper and into the bottom right corner.
The lead only last two minutes, though – some indecisive defending allowed Brown a look at goal, and he lobbed Bachmann cooly to draw his side level almost immediately.
Rossi was lively in the final third for the Potters and found the side-netting on 21 minutes, before seeing a deflected effort stopped by the ‘keeper moments later after a good move involving James Campbell and Musungu.
Two more chances fell his way as the half wore on - firstly a left-footed snap shot was parried, and then a reaction header from Musungu’s cross failed to make the net bulge.
They were punished severely for their profligacy with two goals by the hosts in quick succession.
On 37 minutes, Jimmy Gartside finished tidily after being released in the right channel, before Tom Fogg dispatched a penalty after Niall Green was felled by Richardson.
In an effort to swing momentum back in Stoke’s favour, Jadan Hall was brought into the fray for the second-half and he would have scored on 55 minutes but for a heroic Fog block.
Bachmann stopped a fierce Brown shot moments later, and the game eventually quietened down although it was the Potters who were monopolising possession.
Richardson chipped a clever ball into the path of substitute Luke Coulson, but his square ball somehow evaded everybody and the danger was cleared.
Rossi’s and Stoke’s night was summed up late on when his shot looked to be heading for the bottom corner, but Hall smashed the ball home from an offside position.
They eventually breached the home side’s rearguard, but Richardson’s smart finish a minute into injury-time proved too little, too late and the final whistle blew to cheers from the delighted home support.
Stoke City: Bachmann; Glasgow (L Coulson 65), Heneghan, Keane, Campbell; Richards (Hall 45), Richardson, Clarkson, Musungu; Alabi (Scott 71), Rossi.