Crawley Town’s FA Cup run came to an end against top-flight opposition for the second year running as 10-man Stoke advanced to the last eight.
Last year’s finalists overcame Rory Delap’s controversial sending-off to go ahead through Jon Walters’s confident penalty for a foul on Ryan Shawcross.
A Peter Crouch header shortly after half-time sealed the result. Stoke’s Danny Collins handballed Tyrone Barnett’s shot on the line in injury time but no penalty was given. Crawley went out of the competition to Manchester United last season at the fifth round stage.
And they attempted to give Stoke a taste of their own set-piece medicine throughout the tie but the top-flight side’s extra quality in that department – both in defence and attack – proved critical.
Despite losing Delap, the visitors displayed professionalism and efficiency to see off a side that were a genuine threat to their progress, having already beaten Championship sides Hull and Bristol City on their route to the fifth round.
Tony Pulis was furious at the decision to dismiss Delap for a tackle on David Hunt, which his opposite number Steve Evans had ventured onto the pitch to protest against, although his team were in no way affected by the setback.
Pulis had taken no chances with his team selection, fielding a powerful line-up that included England international Crouch in attack but it was Crawley who enjoyed the better of the early exchanges.
Crouch almost gave the League Two underdogs the lead when Asmir Begovic missed one of a flurry of early Crawley corners, the ball rebounding off the striker’s thigh and onto the crossbar. During those formative stages the game was being played at a frantic pace and it exploded on the 16-minute mark with Delap’s sending-off.
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