Tuesday 23 January 2018

I knew I’d put Chelsea horror show behind me, reveals Jon Walters

Phil Medlicott

IRELAND and Stoke striker Jon Walters was confident memories of his previous miserable outing would not have a negative impact on his performance in yesterday's FA Cup third-round replay against Crystal Palace.

The Potters' 4-0 Barclays Premier League defeat to Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday could hardly have gone any worse for Walters, who managed to head in two own-goals and then capped a luckless display by firing a penalty against the bar.

But playing on the same ground just three days later, the international striker bounced back in style in the Palace game, netting a brace in extra-time to send Stoke on their way to a 4-1 victory and a fourth-round home clash with Manchester City.

In retaining him in the starting line-up, manager Tony Pulis demonstrated his faith in the 29-year-old, who stressed after last night's match that he had had no fear prior to kick-off that thoughts of the Chelsea contest might hinder him.

"It's been a funny few days for me, without doubt," Walters said.

"But it's just important not to get too high with the highs and too low with the lows.

"In football you have ups and downs, but you have to try and remain level headed at all times - because if you don't then you get affected by things.

"I was confident coming into the (Palace) game, there was never an issue about that.

"What happened on Saturday happened on Saturday and you just have to move on."

He added: "I got a bit of stick from the lads at the weekend, but most of that came from me kicking the ball against my own head (while attempting to take a shot in the first half) before I scored the two own goals.

"It's nice to get a couple at the right end though."

Palace, who are chasing promotion in the npower Championship, put up a decent fight last night before Walters stole the show in the additional period.

The visitors spurned the opportunity to take the lead in the first half when Thomas Sorensen tipped Jermaine Easter's penalty on to the post.

Palace goalkeeper Lewis Price had then allowed Kenwyne Jones' 69th-minute header to slip through his gloves and into the net, but the Eagles equalised through Glenn Murray's successful spot-kick in the 87th minute.

Walters then took centre-stage with a 95th-minute header and slotted finish on 110 minutes, before Cameron Jerome added Stoke's fourth in the dying seconds.

It made for a satisfying night's work in the end for the Potters, who returned to winning ways and a more typically solid defensive showing on their own turf following the Chelsea thrashing and a 3-3 draw with Southampton in their last two home league games.

One concerning aspect for the hosts, though, was Andy Wilkinson's enforced substitution in the first half.

Pulis said: "He felt his back again - his back cramped up and we had to bring him off."

Asked if it meant the full-back was a doubt for Saturday's Premier League trip to Swansea, Pulis said: "I wouldn't know.

"Whether he has just cramped up because of the conditions, I don't know, but we'll assess it."

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