Beardsley throws off Potters' challenge

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Stoke City 0 Newcastle United 4

They were talking upsets in the Potteries yesterday, clinging to the hope of an off night for the Premiership leaders. Some hope, some team. Newcastle swept Stoke out of the Coca-Cola Cup last night like they were removing a piece of fluff from an otherwise immaculate jacket.

Indeed, had Newcastle not eased up, the scoreline could have doubled. To complete Stoke's unhappy night, they had Ian Clarkson sent off for two bookable fouls on David Ginola.

However, Lou Macari, the Stoke manager, was unhappy at the dismissal, accusing Ginola of diving. "He was flying through the air when Clarkson came from behind him," Macari said. "Every time Ginola got the ball I was waiting for him to dive and he did it once in the second half when there was nobody near him."

A measure of the visitors' dominance can be gauged from their fourth goal 17 minutes from time. Steve Watson toyed with two defenders, and as the ball bounced away from him, who should be there to lash the ball home but Darren Peacock.

The others were claimed by Peter Beardsley, with two, and Les Ferdinand, who not only took his tally for the season to 16 but, by scoring in his eighth successive game, created a post-war club record.

If Stoke had a chance, it had to be grabbed early and they went for it ferociously, Paul Peschisolido going close with a third-minute shot and a header 14 minutes later. But once Ginola's skill had made the breach with a well-saved shot after 18 minutes, Beardsley charged through it. His first goal came after 30 minutes when Warren Barton was allowed the freedom of the right flank by Lee Sandford and crossed low towards the penalty spot. His intended target was Ferdinand, but Beardsley was just behind, half-volleying into the corner.

The second ended in precisely the same spot, after Beardsley had crowned a piece of luck with some glorious finishing. Attempting a pass on the edge of the area, it rebounded off Vince Overson and became an unintended one-two for the striker.

Stoke were in disarray and, when they were reduced to 10 men a minute before the interval, were hopelessly lost. Ferdinand tapped in a rebound from Keith Gillespie's shot before Peacock completed their disorientation.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Prudhoe; Clarkson, Overson, Sigurdsson, Sandford; Keen, Wallace, Gleghorn, Potter (Cranson, 76); Carruthers, Peschisolido. Substitutes not used: Gayle, Dreyer.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Hislop; Barton, Peacock, Howey (Albert, 62), Elliott; Gillespie, Lee (Watson, 62), Clark, Ginola; Beardsley, Ferdinand. Substitute not used: Srnicek (gk).

Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).