Stoke City manager Tony Pulis last night rejected claims he had devalued the FA Cup and insisted he would have no doubts about picking another second-string line-up for the fourth round tie at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Pulis made 10 changes for this drab replay against Cardiff City but his selection gamble paid off when Jon Walters fired home an extra-time double to spare his blushes.
"I will happily use these players for the game at Wolves," said Pulis of the game at Molineux on 29 January. "But I don't have to justify my team selection to anybody but my chairman [Peter Coates] because he runs the football club.
"He's in India on a lovely break at the moment but I speak to him regularly and he is happy as long as the players have a go. I have a 25-man squad and we pay players good money whether they are in or out of the team. When we call them to arms, we expect them to have a real go and show commitment.
"If they were not good enough, they would not be in my 25. I'm pleased with the win and the players did all I can ask of them."
Despite Pulis's staunch defence of his decision to rest his big-hitters for the trip to the Welsh capital, Stoke's second string contributed to a cup shocker.
Following a game of few chances in normal time, the tie was finally lit up when Walters powered home Michael Tonge's corner in the 91st minute.
Walters then added a second from an acute angle with six minutes remaining after the striker saw his initial shot saved by Cardiff goalkeeper Tom Heaton.
Pulis explained: "The FA Cup is not low on our priorities. But we now play Wolves in the next round on a Saturday and then have to go to Liverpool and Sunderland in the following week, and they don't play in the cup. That's a problem.
"If we did not have the international games as well then there would be more room and teams would concentrate and pick their better teams for the FA Cup."
Cardiff manager Dave Jones said: "We did not get the result we wanted but the youngsters did not let anyone down."
Cardiff (4-4-2): Heaton; Blake, Hudson, Gyepes, Naylor; Rae, McPhail (Wildig, 39), Drinkwater (Matthews, 75), Burke; Parkin (Chopra, 64), Keogh. Substitutes not used Marshall (gk), McNaughton, John, Jarvis.
Stoke (4-4-2): Sorensen; Shotton, Collins, Faye, Higginbotham (Tonge, 10); Whelan, Pugh, Diao (Wilson, 75), Pennant (Soares, 79); Fuller, Walters. Substitutes not used Nash (gk), Soares, Sidibe.
Match rating 2/10.
Man of the match Faye.
Referee P Walton (Northants).
Attendance 13,671.Reuse content