FA Cup - Stoke rout Bolton to reach FA Cup final

Sun, 17 Apr 16:56:00 2011

Stoke City stormed into their first FA Cup final, routing Bolton Wanderers 5-0 at Wembley.

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First-half strikes from Matthew Etherington, Robert Huth, and Kenwyne Jones gave Tony Pulis's men a 3-0 lead with just half an hour played, and The Potters never looked back as they booked their place in the final of football's oldest competition with two second-half goals from Jonathan Walters to complete the demolition.

With in-form striker Daniel Sturridge ineligible, Owen Coyle selected Croatian Ivan Klasnic and club captain Kevin Davies to lead the line for Bolton, with Johan Elmander dropped back into central midfield.

Pulis, meanwhile, made only one change to the side that beat West Ham 2-1 in the quarter-finals - replacing injured goalscorer Danny Higginbotham with Andy Wilkinson at full-back.

The atmosphere in the stadium reached fever pitch as Davies and Ryan Shawcross led their men on to the sun-kissed Wembley turf, but Bolton's fans didn't have long to savour their surroundings.

Jussi Jaaskelainen charged out well to dispossess Walters with three minutes played, before Gary Cahill fired a first-time volley a yard over the Stoke crossbar four minutes later.

With both sides scrapping furiously for control in the opening stages, Stoke took the initiative with a goal out of nowhere in the 11th minute.

Etherington - an FA Cup runner-up with West Ham in 2006 - cut inside from the right wing after some poor defending from Paul Robinson, before hammering a peach of a left-foot strike into the bottom right corner.

The white half of the stadium fell into stunned silence, but the day was only going to get worse for Bolton's fans as Stoke doubled their advantage just six minutes later.

A typically dangerous throw from Rory Delap into the Bolton box was headed clear by Cahill, but only as far as Stoke's top scorer, German centre-back Huth.

The former Chelsea and Middlesbrough defender swung a speculative left boot at the ball, which curled clear of Jaaskelainen's less-than-emphatic dive and nestled in the bottom right corner.

With Bolton's midfield struggling for possession - and wingers Chung-Yong Lee and Martin Petrov virtually anonymous throughout - Stoke moved three goals clear on the half-hour mark thanks to some inspired wing-play from Jermaine Pennant.

The livewire winger robbed the sluggish Petrov inside his own half, before charging towards the Bolton penalty area and dinking a lovely ball through the Trotters' defence and into the path of Jones.

The striker took one touch, before calmly stroking the ball under the on-rushing Jaaskelainen to put Stoke out of sight 15 minutes before half-time.

Coyle made two changes at the interval - replacing the disappointing Klasnic and Petrov with Matt Taylor and Mark Davies, and shifting Elmander forward to lead Bolton's line.

The changes utterly failed to bear fruit for the Trotters, however, and Jones squandered two chances to put Stoke further out of sight with a 58th-minute header and a close-range shot blocked by Zat Knight two minutes later.

Up stepped Walters in the 68th minute carrying the ball unchallenged through Bolton's half before stroking an inch-perfect, curling strike into bottom-right corner from 22 yards.

The journeyman - who played six games in a short stint at Bolton - then popped up 10 minutes from time to fire in Jones's low ball at the far post and seal an emphatic 5-0 win for Stoke - the biggest margin of victory in an FA Cup semi-final since 1908.

The Potters will face Manchester City at Wembley on May 14th.

John Stead / Eurosport

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