Feb 16, 2015

    Hughes blames players as Stoke exit FA Cup


    STOKE City manager Mark Hughes pointed the finger of blame at his players, rather than referee Anthony Taylor, following his team's surprise 4-1 FA Cup defeat at Championship side Blackburn Rovers.

    A dramatic fifth-round tie changed just before half-time at Ewood Park on Saturday, when Stoke defender Geoff Cameron was judged by Taylor to have brought down Josh King, earning him a red card and allowing Rudy Gestede to put Blackburn 2-1 in front from the resulting penalty.

    Norwegian international King, who had equalised Peter Crouch's early opening goal, went on to complete a 19-minute hat-trick against Stoke's 10 men, much to the disgust of Hughes, whose team also lost 4-1 against Manchester City last week.

    "I was disappointed in us as a whole," said former Blackburn boss Hughes. "We just didn't deal with what we needed to deal with, the fundamentals.

    "All managers will talk about the fundamentals, it doesn't matter whether you are up against Man City or Blackburn Rovers, if you don't, then things are going to happen to your detriment.

    "I have seen those penalties given, I've seen them not given, but the way our afternoon was shaping up, it was pretty predictable it would be given.

    "In the end, I have no complaints. Blackburn were the better team and I wish them well in the next round."

    King's hat-trick was one of the most eye-catching individual performances in the Cup this season, leaving his manager answering questions about the 23-year-old forward, who joined Blackburn from Manchester United in 2013. "He's a top lad, had a good education at United and you've seen what he's capable of today. The challenge for him is to produce that on a regular basis," said Blackburn boss Gary Bowyer.

    "We identified areas where we thought we might get success today, and King's pace was one of those areas.

    "He has fantastic pace, but the most pleasing thing was he finished both chances, going through one-on-one, very well."

    Bowyer, whose club recently announced they are nearly £80 million (S$167 million) in debt, was clearly delighted to have reached the quarter-finals and a potential money-spinning tie, although he would not contemplate the possibility of making it to the final.

    "Do me a favour," Bowyer said. "We've just finished this game. We're delighted to be in the next round and we'd love another home tie and go from there.

    "Our focus now is purely on Cardiff on Tuesday night. We know how difficult that is going to be. Of course I understand our fans dreaming about Wembley, but there is a long way to go yet."

    The second half at Ewood was marred by angry crowd scenes involving Stoke supporters who were involved with altercations with stewards and police, after stretcher bearers attempted to remove a woman who had suffered a suspected heart attack.

    It was later confirmed that the woman had not suffered a heart attack, but the Football Association is likely to launch an investigation into the incident which lasted more than 10 minutes.