Stoke can compete on three fronts, insists bullish Jerome
Gillingham 1 Stoke City 3
League Two clubs cannot afford to be choosey about an FA Cup draw: any Premier League club at home is good but, if they could select their own opponent, few would choose Stoke City. Despite being the 2011 runners-up, Stoke are not glamorous enough to attract the financial windfall of live TV coverage but nor are they vulnerable to a giant-killing.
Not only do Stoke have some excellent players, they are too physically powerful to be intimidated. At Priestfield on Saturday, the Potters fielded four centre-halves, three centre-forwards, a brace of long-throw exponents and the muscular Wilson Palacios. Two of the three goals by which they overhauled a Gillingham side, which had taken an early lead, came from set-pieces. "They are a strong physical side," Danny Kedwell, Gillingham's scorer, said. "Even Premier League clubs struggle to deal with their throw-ins."
Unlike Swindon in their match against Wigan, Gills could not even take advantage of weakened opposition. The lingering emnity between Gillingham chairman Paul Scally and Stoke manager Tony Pulis, who was Gillingham's manager in the late-Nineties, meant Stoke were always likely to field a strong XI. Not that Pulis – whose reception from the home support must have had Scally fuming – used the feud to motivate his team. "I'm not sure who Paul Scally even is," Cameron Jerome said. "The gaffer never mentioned him."
Maybe that accounted for Stoke's start – Gillingham took an early lead through Kedwell. But Jon Walters punished sloppy defending to level, Jerome turned in a Rory Delap throw-in and Robert Huth converted a corner.
Stoke have now won 14 and lost three of their last 20 Cup ties at home and abroad, losing only to Manchester City in last season's FA Cup final, Liverpool in the Carling Cup this season, and at Besiktas with a reserve team in a dead Europa League rubber at the start of December.
"We are competing on three fronts but I think it's quite manageable," Jerome said. "We had a heavy schedule before Christmas, but we have got through that. We are eighth in the League, which is good, and we are through to the last 32 of the Europa League after no one gave us a prayer. Hopefully we can progress in this competition as well."
Derby County, who have drawn this short straw in the fourth round, have been warned.
Gillingham (4-1-4-1): Flitney; Lawrence (Rooney, 65), Richards, Frampton, Jackman; Montrose (S Payne, 76); Lee, Weston, J Payne, Whelpdale; Kedwell (Oli, 63).
Stoke City (4-4-2): Begovic; Woodgate, Shawcross, Huth, Upson; Shotton (Whelan, 52), Palacios (Whitehead, 61), Delap, Jerome; Walters, Jones (Fuller, 73).
Goals: Kedwell 16, Walters 34, Jerome 43, Huth 49
Referee M Halsey
Latest in Sport
World Cup 2014: Neymar's agent launches scathing attack on Brazil's Luis Felipe Scolari, labelling him 'an old jerk, arrogant, repulsive, conceited and ridiculous'
Brazil vs Germany match report World Cup 2014: Utter humiliation for hosts as Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos help Germany hit seven past Selecao
Angel di Maria: Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal 'monitoring' Real Madrid winger
World Cup 2014: The 50 best players of the World Cup
PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
- 4 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
British jihadist calls for 'flag of Islam' over Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories