Stevenage 0-4 Stoke City: Crouch hat-trick sees Potters coast through

A triple from Peter Crouch saw an experienced Stoke City side reach the Third Round of the EFL Cup at the expense of their League Two opponents.

Stevenage 0-4 Stoke City: Crouch hat-trick sees Potters coast through
Peter Crouch celebrates his opener | Photo: Stevenage FC on Twitter
0 4
Stoke City
Stevenage: Jones; Henry, Wilkinson, Franks, Fox; Pett, Gorman, Lee (Tonge, min.66), Hunte (McAnuff, min.56); Hyde (Gordon, min.56), Liburd.
Stoke City: Given; Bardsley, Shawcross (Pieters, min. 72), Cameron, Muniesa; Whelan, Allen; Walters, Adam, Arnautovic (Ramadan, min.60); Crouch
SCORE: 0-1, min. 14, Crouch. 0-2, min. 32, Bardsley. 0-3, min. 47, Crouch. 0-4, min. 70, Crouch.
REFEREE: Oliver Langford. Booked Cameron (min. 29), Lee (min. 42)

Stoke City coasted through to the next stage of the EFL Trophy following a straightforward 4-0 win at Stevenage.

Mark Hughes took a strong team to the Lamex Stadium as he looked for a first competitive victory of the new campaign against the League Two side.

The Potters' starting XI contained six of the players who had started the 4-1 home defeat to Manchester City on Saturday, while fringe players like Jonathan Walters and Peter Crouch were given a run-out.

Stoke up and running early on

After a shaky opening ten minutes, it was Stoke who broke the deadlock when Crouch nodded home a close-range rebound after good work from Charlie Adam and Joe Allen.

It was a comfortable first half for the Premier League side, who doubled their lead in fine style. Walters played in Phil Bardsley who hit a superb left footed shot past Jamie Jones into the top of the net from 25 yards out. 

The Potters continued to threaten throughout a dominant opening 45 minutes, but they were restricted to half-chances via Crouch and Allen.

It was a comfortable first half for The Potters | Photo: MailOnline
It was a comfortable first half for The Potters | Photo: MailOnline

Game sealed with time to spare 

It didn't take long after the second half got underway for the visitors to wrap the game up. Marko Arnautovic had time and space on the left to float in a terrific cross for Crouch, who simply nodded home at the far post to book Stoke's passage to Round Three.

Mark Hughes' strong team selection brought raised eyebrows from the Stoke faithful, many of whom had hoped for their younger players to be given a run-out at this early stage of the EFL Cup. Yet the comfortable manner in which The Potters dispatched The Boro would have pleased the Potters' boss. 

Stoke's Egyptian youngster Ramadan Sobhi was introduced on the hour mark, following on from his first taste of English football action in the final minutes of the Man City defeat. The winger looked bright and creative in a lively spell.

With the game effectively over, the hosts began to play with more freedom and came close when Luke Wilkinson headed a corner wide with 20 minutes to go.

Stoke didn't relent, and it turned into a great night for former England international Crouch, who scissor-kicked Joe Allen's centre, having found himself unmarked in the penalty area. His hat-trick complete, Crouch took the adulation of the travelling Stoke support. 

Crouch had only scored twice in Stoke's last campaign | Photo: PA
Crouch had only scored twice in Stoke's last campaign | Photo: PA

Stevenage's evening was made all the more difficult when they were reduced to ten men with five to go, Dale Gorman forced off with an injury after the home side had used all their subs. Nonetheless, the score remained 0-4 with The Premier League side largely unthreatened. 

It was a walk in the park for an experienced Stoke team, that will do little to silence the doubters after a shaky start to The Premier League Season. However, it does have Stokies dreaming of a trip to Wembley having fallen agonisingly short of the League Cup final in an Anfield penalty shoot-out last season.

Crouch's triple very well may throw him into contention for a start at Goodison Park on Saturday, after a quiet start for Mame Diouf in The Potters' opening couple of games. 

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