Rochdale 1 Stoke City 4
Mark Hughes will have been delighted to survive what could have been a tricky trip to Spotland to face League One Rochdale in the fourth round of the FA Cup. As it was they were always in control after an early cracker from the talented Spaniard Bojan Krkic and despite him limping off soon afterwards, his replacement Stephen Ireland was also among the goals as they confirmed their place in the next round.
Hughes seemed intent on ensuring the best possible chance of an extended run in the Cup, by selecting a strong side to face Rochdale. His respect for the historic competition was rewarded as early as the fourth minute, as a punt down the middle by Stoke was laid back to the edge of the area for the ex-Barcelona player Bojan to unleash a delightful left-foot volley that flew into the corner of the net. After the goal, Rochdale promised much but their finishing was not precise enough to get the equaliser.
Bojan didn't last much longer on the pitch, as his knee seemed to give way as his studs caught in the turf while chasing a through ball. His replacement was Ireland, a more than adequate replacement, who demonstrated his worth shortly after the break in scoring the second goal from close range, as Stoke began to illustrate the difference in class between the two sides.
It was soon three as the ex-Chelsea and Liverpool winger Victor Moses scored a terrific goal of his own on 62 minutes, outstripping Joe Rafferty down the left flank, before cutting inside and curling his shot home from an acute angle into the top corner.
Rochdale continued to show a spirit for the fight and gave their fans some consolation when Rhys Bennett reduced the deficit from a set-piece, but the three-goal margin was restored when Irish international Jon Walters prodded in the fourth for City.
The news on Bojan was less comforting for Hughes, as he left the ground on crutches after jarring his knee in the 32nd minute of the match. They await tests to assess the full extent of the damage done. #FootballThe Potters will play away at Blackburn Rovers in the next round.