SWINDON are through to the next round of the Capital One Cup after knocking out Premier League side Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium in dramatic fashion.
A superb hat-trick from James Collins sandwiched a header from Aden Flint to give Town the victory, with the winning goal coming with virtually the last kick of extra time.
Paolo Di Canio made just one change to the side that had started against MK Dons at the weekend. Alan Navarro replaced Simon Ferry, with the latter dropping to the bench.
A timid opening first 20 minutes was broken by Raffaele De Vita’s run and shot narrowly wide of the post. The effort seemed to spark some life into the game and before long chances were coming for both sides. Kenwyne Jones headed over for the home side and Collins mis-cued a snap-shot wide. Cameron Jerome and Jones then could not decided which of them was to head the ball home from 5 yards out with the cross eventually hitting on of them and rolling out for a goal-kick.
With 25 minutes on the clock, Town did the unthinkable and took the lead. Jay McEveley’s cross was dropped by Thomas Sorensen and landed perfectly for James Collins to poke home into the net.
Buoyed by their advantage, Town seemed to play without any pressure and continued to drive forward. A fine passing move finished with Andy Williams turning his man on the edge of the area and driving a shot goal-wards that was well held by Sorensen.
Jones headed over once more before McCormack picked out De Vita with a pin-point 50-yard pass that arrowed over the full-back. De Vita took it in his stride and brought a fine save from Sorensen.
With five minutes to go to the break, Collins struck again to double the Town’s goal tally. De Vita’s corner found Collins’ run in the box and the striker nodded across goal and into the far corner, sending the visiting support into raptures.
Moments later it could have been three but Collins’ shot was cleared off the line by a pair of covering defenders. Town continued to press: Matt Ritchie pulled a shot wide of the post and De Vita picked out a mis-timed clearance, volleying it with conviction against the woodwork. The half time whistle was greeted with loud boos from the home supporters.
The second half brought much of the same from the visitors. Continuing to pour forward when the opportunity presented itself, Town could have scored again when De Vita cut inside onto his right foot only to see his effort blocked by Robert Huth.
With an hour played, the home side were back in it courtesy of Kenwyne Jones. Having missed two previous headers, Jones was on the mark at the third time of asking, beating Foderingham to the ball and directing it home.
Then the momentum, as it only could in a cup-tie, swung the way of the home team: suddenly they began to look more menacing in attack and more confident on the ball. Tony Pulis was then prompted to throw on his more senior players with Jonathan Walters and Peter Crouch entering the fray.
With five minutes to play, Stoke’s changes paid dividends as they drew level. Walters took advantage of some hesitancy in the Town box and side-footed home the equaliser, taking the tie to extra time.
With the pace inevitably slower than it was in the 90 minutes, chances were at a premium in the first half of extra time. Jay McEveley was taken off after a nasty clash of heads Right on half time however, Town turned the tie on its head once again and re-took the lead. Joe Devera flicked on a cross towards the far post where Aden Flint was on hand to power home past Sorensen.
The tie swung back Stoke’s way in the second half. Peter Crouch rose to head home a cross from the right with ten minutes to play. As the clock ticked over the 120 minute mark, Town won the game in dramatic fashion.
Tommy Miller’s shot was spilled by Thomas Sorensen and bounced kindly for Andy Williams. Williams nodded the ball across goal for the waiting James Collins who bundled home the ball at the near post cueing scenes of jubilation in the stands and on the touchline.
Despite a very late rally from the home side, Town held on to record an incredible victory.