Stoke City 0 Tamworth 0: Stoke face screen test at the Lamb

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The Independent Online

Perhaps it was appropriate that the match sponsor was Cloud 10, Tamworth's first lap-dancing club, for if Saturday was anything to go by, the romance of the Cup has taken on a more prosaic, mercantile aspect. Even as he celebrated what he later described as "the biggest result in the club's history" on the pitch, the Tamworth player-manager Mark Cooper found time to mime a cine-camera to his chairman.

He has been aggrieved at how little coverage his side, second bottom of the Conference, have received in comparison with the three other non-League teams who made it to the third round, and is desperate for the live cameras to come to Tamworth's Lamb Ground a week tomorrow.

"Anyone who has listened to me this week would know how bitter I am that we haven't had a television game having beaten two League One teams away from home," he said.

"If anyone deserves a televised game, it's Tamworth Football Club because it will be a fantastic game at the Lamb. We're looking forward to it and" - a pause, a cough, a gentle smile - "I'm sure they are too. It's an old-fashioned ground against a big, big club. That's as romantic as they come but I wouldn't hold my breath. To get a result at a Championship club four or five points off the play-offs for the Premiership takes some doing, believe me."

It took some watching as well. This was a dreadful game played in dreadful weather on a dreadful pitch, and while Tamworth - the centre-backs Adie Smith and Matt Redmile in particular - deserve immense credit for the diligence and industry they showed, it is hard to imagine there will be queues at their club shop to buy the video.

Denied the option of Sammy Bangoura, who has scored eight goals in 13 games this season, following a dispute over availability with the Guinean FA, Stoke were devoid of a cutting edge. Their manager, Johan Boskamp, described his side as having played "like old people", but if the local rest home has a veterans XI, they could consider a suit for defamation.

It was probably just as well Stoke's lowest crowd of the season turned out, or the booing at the end might not have been quite so drowned out by the celebrations at the other end. In 90 minutes, Stoke managed just three chances. Paul Gallagher and Darel Russell drew sharp saves from Scott Bevan, but it was the second that summed up the game. Smith and Jimmy Turner collided, and the ball broke for Sidibe in yards of space. As he accelerated towards the box, though, his touch was woefully heavy, and Bevan was able to block.

It may sound curmudgeonly to be so critical after a team of part-timers - Tamworth's centre-forward Nick Wright is on work- experience from Birmingham - had stunned a Championship side, but this was the antithesis of the beautiful game. Time may cast the result in soft focus, but if this game had been live on television, they would have been switching off in droves.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Simonsen; Broomes, Hoefkens, Henry, Buxton; Chadwick (Harper, 79), Russell, Brammer, Kopteff (Sweeney, 54); Gallagher (Sigurdsson, 76), Sidibe. Substitutes not used: De Goey (gk), Junior.

Tamworth (4-4-2): Bevan; Ward, Smith, Redmile, Turner; Touhy, Bampton (Cooper, 83), Melton, Anaclet; Edwards, Wright (Storer, 64). Substitutes not used: Stamps, Heggs, Gayle.

Referee: Paul Taylor (Hertfordshire).

Booked: Stoke Henry; Tamworth Bampton.

Man of the match: Redmile.

Attendance: 9,366.

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