Nathan Ellington's contentious penalty in the last of three minutes of stoppage time means Derby County are in the League Cup semi-final for the first time in 40 years. The striker, on loan from Watford, thrilled 4,500 visiting fans by gently rolling in his sixth goal in the competition – the best return in the country and more than he has managed in the Championship since May 2007.
The award irritated Stoke City, not least their skipper and former Derby full-back Andy Griffin, who was harshly adjudged to have blocked Przemyslaw Kazmierczak's cross with his arm. "Rob Styles had 20 bodies between him and the incident, and the linesman didn't flag," said Stoke's manager Tony Pulis. "We're deeply disappointed but it's our fault we're out. We created some good chances."
Derby's progress is another hint of post-Premier League humiliation re-emergence, and their manager Paul Jewell, who took Wigan Athletic to the 2006 final, said: "It was a great victory for us. Stoke is a tough place to go to, as Arsenal, Tottenham and Aston Villa have found out.
"Stoke showed us respect by playing most of the big-hitters, and it was then an examination of character after our last three away games, all defeats. You can hardly find a tougher place to come, we showed character and strength.
"Stoke have good footballers. People only talk about the long throws and set-plays. They also have some good footballers."
The tie was a non-event in the first half and riddled with near-misses thereafter, Derby admirably repelling Stoke's battery of throw-ins and corners, and carrying a major threat of their own from the moment the second half started in a snowstorm.
Derby had not scored or taken a point in three away games since winning at Brighton in round four but Kris Commons headed powerfully against the bar from Ellington's centre, Rob Hulse failing to react quickly enough to nod in the rebound, and Miles Addison brushed the foot of the post.
Stoke, showing five changes from the weekend, might have had an early penalty for hands against the excellent Darren Powell, and claimed further injustice when Richard Cresswell was penalised for handling before firing home.
As opportunities piled up, Seyi Olofinjana's shot was brilliantly deflected away by Paul Connolly, then Ricardo Fuller allowed Jordan Stewart to deny him a one-on-one chance – a miss he compounded by nodding yards wide from Mamady Sidibe's pass. Sidibe also failed from Fuller's inviting centre while Creswell and Glenn Whelan brought fine saves from Roy Carroll.
Stoke City (4-4-2): Simonsen; Griffin, Cort, Sonko, Higginbotham; Delap, Whelan, Olofinjana (Pugh, 81), Cresswell; Sidibe, Fuller. Substitutes not used: Sorensen (gk), Pericard, Amdy Faye, Davies, Abdoulaye Faye, Dickinson.
Derby County (4-4-2): Carroll; Connolly, Tomkins, Powell, Stewart; Green (Teale, 90), Addison, Kazmierczak, Commons; Ellington, Hulse (Villa, 86). Substitutes not used: Bywater (gk), Sterjovski, Nyatanga, Zadkovich, Camara.
Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).Reuse content