Stoke easily avoided joining the growing list of famous FA Cup casualties as fine goals from Bojan Krkic and Victor Moses inspired a 4-1 win at Rochdale in the fourth round on Monday.
Mark Hughes’ side travelled to Spotland hoping to ensure there was no repeat of the stunning scenes that saw third tier Bradford win at Premier League leaders Chelsea and Championship team Middlesbrough shock reigning English champions Manchester City on Saturday.
With Manchester United held by Cambridge and Liverpool unable to beat Bolton, this year’s fourth round had already thrown up a series of remarkable results, but Stoke, now the fifth highest-ranked team left in the Cup, subdued their League One opponents to set up a fifth round tie at second tier Blackburn.
Former Barcelona forward Bojan put Stoke ahead with an superb swerving volley in the fourth minute and even though he was forced off with an injury soon after, there was never any sign of City losing their grip on the match.
Bojan’s replacement Stephen Ireland doubled Stoke’s lead in the 52nd minute when he was left unmarked to steer in a cross from Moses.
Just nine minutes later, Nigerian winger Moses effectively ended the tie as he tricked his way past Rochdale’s Joe Rafferty before curling a brilliant finish into the far corner.
Rhys Bennett got one back for Rochdale, sweeping home from inside the penalty area after Stoke failed twice to clear their lines in the 78th minute.
But Jon Walters tapped in from close-range in stoppage-time to seal Stoke’s progress to the last 16.