Sunday, 17 April 2011

Stoke thrash Bolton to reach the F.A.Cup final

Three first-half goals helped Stoke City demolish Bolton Wanderers and reach the FA Cup final for the first time in their history.Aided by some woeful Bolton defending, Matthew Etherington, Robert Huth and Kenwyne Jones scored in the first half-hour and two goals by Jon Walters after the break completed the victory.Stoke, roared on by their vociferous fans, can look forward to returning to Wembley to face Manchester City in the final on 14 May.Their other reward is a probable place in the Europa League because their final opponents are all-but guaranteed European qualification of some sort through their league position.
For Wanderers, however, the occasion was a massive anti-climax as their hopes of reaching a first final since 1958 in tribute to the late Nat Lofthouse were quickly left in ruins.

Bolton were given an ominous warning in the opening minutes when they were caught napping by a quickly taken Stoke free-kick that enabled Walters to escape down the left before being denied by Jussi Jaaskelainen.Bolton did manage a couple of efforts at the other end, with Gary Cahill blasting over from a corner and Johan Elmander failing to test Thomas Sorensen with a low shot from distance.But their big day began to disintegrate from the moment a misplaced pass by Paul Robinson found Etherington on the edge of the area and the winger composed himself before lashing a fierce shot into the corner of the net.
Things quickly got worse for Bolton and, again, their defending was at fault. Cahill got no distance on his header as he tried to clear a cross and Huth met the bouncing ball with a first-time shot that flew past Jaaskelainen's despairing dive.

In the absence of the cup-tied striker Daniel Sturridge, Bolton's only game-plan appeared to be lumping the ball towards Kevin Davies' head, a tactic that failed to create any openings.
On the half-hour mark Stoke compounded their misery with a third goal. Jermaine Pennant stole the ball from Martin Petrov and made for goal, before slipping a pass through to Jones that Cahill failed to intercept, leaving the Stoke striker with an easy task to slot home.With Bolton so poor going forward and generous in defence, the game already seemed up and to the evident frustration of their manager Owen Coyle, a comeback never looked on the cards.His response to a dismal first 45 minutes was a double change at half-time, replacing the anonymous Ivan Klasnic and the ineffective Martin Petrov with Matt Taylor and Mark Davies.

Mark Davies in particular tried to get his side going but clear-cut chances for Wanderers remained elusive, while Stoke's enterprising attacking play continued to threaten further goals, and they eventually scored them.
Jaaskelainen kept out a Jones header and needed Robinson to block a thunderous shot from the Trinidadian after making a hash of Etherington's chipped cross.
The Bolton keeper also stopped an angled Walters effort when his defence again went missing but the Stoke forward was not to be denied a goal, making it 4-0 on 68 minutes with a rasping low shot after a fine solo run.
Stoke were not quite finished yet, with Walters getting on the end of a deflected Jones cross nine minutes from the end to notch his second of the game and put the seal on an impressive display.

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