Leyton Orient 0 Stoke 1 (AET): Dave Kitson ends long wait for a goal
After 13 barren months and a whole heap of derision, Dave Kitson finally scored a £5.5million goal to give Stoke a grinding extra-time victory at a rainswept Brisbane Road. The striker signed from Reading for a club record fee 14 months ago was supposed to start repaying that inflated fee last August. Instead, it took until 94 minutes of his 21st appearance for Stoke until he began to justifying manager Tony Pulis’s decision to pursue him. It was a superlative strike, too, swivelling on a dropping ball 25 yards out and sending a looping volley over substitute Orient keeper Glenn Morris. As the ball sank into the net, Kitson stood almost motionless, presumably because he had forgotten how to celebrate scoring. A delighted Pulis said: ‘Dave has been unlucky at times but the supporters have stuck by him. They will be delighted he’s scored such a good goal. ‘He looks a lot sharper this year than last and I’m hoping that this will have a knock-on effect for him.’ The goal decided a match that was pleasing on the eye but which still lacked the spark that English cup football is supposed to provide — partly because of a poor 2,742 attendance which meant that cheers faded into the night air and partly the line-up that Pulis fielded. All 11 players who started Saturday’s goalless draw at Birmingham, and who presumably will do the same against Sunderland this weekend, were spared a six-hour round trip into the traffic and drizzle of east London which would have served only to weary them. Then again, when Premier League survival — featuring no more than a dozen wins if last season’s tally is to be matched — is the sole objective, priorities have surely become skewed. The 556 Stoke supporters who travelled down from the Potteries did so not because they wanted to add Brisbane Road to their collection of grounds visited, but because the journey to a possible final appearance at Wembley began there. Witnessing a reserve side was not part of the deal when they would make it home in the early hours of the morning. With the tie taking place six miles away from Upton Park, both sets of fans concentrated on football rather than each other, even though they didn’t have a goal in normal time to disturb their vigil. Orient carved out enough openings in a dynamic display to have warranted victory. Winger Andros Townsend, on loan from Tottenham, was both effective and wasteful. He forced three saves in five first-half minutes from Stoke keeper Steve Simonsen, the final one a parry at full stretch of a rasping drive. At the other end, Richard Cresswell ought to have guided his shot from a Tom Soares pull-back on target instead of dragging it beyond the far post, while Kitson then forced Morris into a smart stop down by his near post. A topsy-turvy half almost closed with a goal for the League One side. Charlie Daniels’ free-kick clipped an ankle in the Stoke wall and veered into the path of Adrian Patulea, who couldn’t direct the spinning ball into an empty net. Moments later, Jason Demetriou ended a flowing interchange of passes with a crisp shot again stopped by Simonsen. The closest either side came to a second-half winner was Kitson’s goalbound header six minutes from time which was diverted up against the underside of the bar by JJ Melligan on the line.
Related Stoke City News