Stoke 4 Blackpool 3: Griffin turns up for Potters with a late punch-line
Andy Griffin's last start in a Stoke shirt prompted a punch-up, but on a dramatic night of cup football he started a good old-fashioned knees-up among Potters fans with a superb winner. The full-back popped up in the Blackpool box six minutes into stoppage time to fire past Matt Gilks and secure victory. It was his first full outing since being on the receiving end of a blow from his own team-mate Ricardo Fuller in an incident that shamed football during a defeat at West Ham last December. This time it was Griffin that landed the knock-out blow though in a game bursting with action. There was a sour note when Blackpoo boss Ian Holloway claimed a fan had been ejected for racially abusing his striker Jason Euell. Stoke had looked dead when they fell two goals behind shortly after half time thanks to goals by David Vaughan and Billy Clarke Their cause was set back further by Liam Lawrence's failure to convert a penalty when Tuncay was fouled by Alex Baptiste, as keeper Gilks guessed correctly and saved to his right. But the introduction of Fuller and Matty Etherington from the subs bench revitalised the Premier League side and they pushed their noses in front with three goals in five minutes. The redoubtable Danny Higginbotham barged his way into the box to head home a corner in the 75th minute. Etherington darted into the box to flick home from Tuncay's header to level and then Fuller broke from deep to score the third. He laid the ball off to Tuncay and, when the Turk was tackled, followed up to side-foot home the rebound. It should have been enough to secure victory, but this topsy-turvey encounter took another twist with nine minutes left on the clock. Big Ben Burgess escaped the attentions of Carl Cort to nod in an equaliser that suggested extra-time was on the cards. But Griffin had other ideas. Picking up the ball from Charlie Adam's loose touch, he surged into the area and fired low past Gilks' dive. It was heart-breaking for Ian Holloway's men, who had seen a second cup upset snatched from their grasp. They looked worthy of a shock win during an opening half they dominated. Vaughan opened the scoring by taking a return pass from Adam and accurately placing his 20-yard left-footed shot past keeper Steve Simonsen. Clarke's goal two minutes after the interval should have been enough to secure a spot in the next round. The diminutive forward lost his marker in the penalty area to find space at the far post and head in a corner. At that point Holloway looked to have gained the upper hand over his friend Tony Pulis. But it was Stoke enjoying the last laugh with a team that featured 11 changes. Pulis said: 'We had a great spell to get back into the game and in the end we deserved the win.' Holloway said: 'I was in dreamland when we were two goals up. I thought it might be our night when the keeper saves a penalty but it shows the quality Tony has built here.' STOKE (4-4-2): Simonsen; Wilkinson, Cort, Higginbotham, Griffin; Lawrence, Arismendi (Tonge 45) Pugh, Soares (Etherington 63); Tuncay, Beattie (Fuller 63). BLACKPOOL (4-4-2): Gilks; Eastham (Eardley 82), Edwards, Baptiste, Martin; Emmanuel-Thomas (Bouazza 90), Bangura, Adam, Vaughan; Clarke, Burgess.
Related Stoke City News