Friday 27 April 2018

Walters nets in Stoke romp

Tony Pulis enjoyed a victorious return to the Priestfield Stadium as Stoke hit back from a goal down to open their FA Cup campaign with a comfortable 3-1 win against Gillingham. Last season's runners-up,Stoke responded to Danny Kedwell's 16th-minute strike with goals from Jon Walters, Cameron Jerome and Robert Huth.

At Craven Cottage, Damien Duff was on target as a Clint Dempsey hat-trick helped Fulham cruise past Charlton in a 4-0 win.

Bolton lived to fight another day despite a stirring display from Macclesfield at the Moss Rose stadium. David Wheater's late header rescued Bolton from the verge of becoming giant-killing victims after the Silkmen's tired legs finally gave in. Before then, Arnaud Mendy's spectacular volley had given the League Two side real hope of an upset.

Ivan Klasnic had given Owen Coyle's side an early lead, before Colin Daniel fired Macclesfield level, and the Silkmen had dominated much of the match until they ran out of steam.

At Carrow Road, Norwich beat Burnley convincingly at Carrow Road to book their place in the fourth round.

Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson fired the Premier League side 2-0 ahead inside 12 minutes but Jay Rodriguez's looping header reduced the deficit -- and then City skipper Holt missed a penalty. The Canaries, though, were soon back in command when Andrew Surman swept home on the hour and substitute Steve Morison tapped in number four from close range.

Swansea booked their place in the next round after emerging 4-2 winners from an entertaining encounter with Barnsley at Oakwell. The Championship side went ahead just before the half-hour mark through Ricardo Vaz Te, only for the Swans to equalise within a minute thanks to Angel Rangel's finish.

A great strike by Danny Graham moments after the interval put the Swans in front before Nathan Dyer made it 3-1 in the 54th minute, and, after Vaz Te had pulled one back in the 65th, Graham scored again late on to seal victory.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon feels the lift his players gained from winning the trophy last season should ensure they treat today's Scottish Cup clash with Peterhead in the right manner. Lennon's future was still a topic of speculation when Celtic went into last year's final against Motherwell after losing out to Rangers for the other two domestic trophies. But a 3-0 win over Motherwell sealed his first silverware as manager and gave many of his players their first medals too.

"Sometimes it's nice to have the change from the rigours of the championship," Lennon said. "We're the holders of this competition and we dearly want to win it again. There should be a gulf in quality but anything can happen on any given day," he said. "We have to be ready for that. We have to earn the right to play and win the game."

Celtic go into the game without Gary Hooper, who will be rested after playing through a groin injury, meaning Ireland international Anthony Stokes should start.

Portsmouth manager Michael Appleton sees no reason why his side cannot repeat their FA Cup heroics of four years ago when they head to Chelsea in the third round today. In 2008 Harry Redknapp's Pompey went to Old Trafford in the quarter-finals and stunned Manchester United 1-0 on their way to lifting the trophy. Administration and relegation have since taken their toll at Fratton Park, with Pompey now 17th in the Championship and yet again looking for new owners.

And Appleton admits a win at Stamford Bridge would be an even more impressive achievement than victory over United. "It would be bigger than that, because a lot has happened to Portsmouth since then," he said. "We're in the Championship now with a small squad and a lot of players who are coming towards the end of their careers.

"But we're in good form lately and hopefully we can be one of those teams around the country celebrating a shock this weekend.

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill has hailed the impact of 22-year-old fellow Ulsterman James McClean, saying his faith in the youngster has been richly rewarded. "I couldn't be more pleased with him," O'Neill said. "He has come in and been exceptional."

McClean, a £350,000 summer signing from Derry City, has since forced his way into O'Neill's starting line-up for the Premier League victories over Manchester City and Wigan, and is likely to retain his place for today's FA Cup trip to Peterborough.

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