Stoke City Vs. West Ham United, FA Cup Match Report: Late Higginbotham Goal Vaults Potters To Wembley

Stoke City is through to Wembley after a 2-1 win over West Ham United, a FA Cup quarterfinal were inconsistent officiating from Michael Jones was as much a factor as any player performances. Stoke City's two goals - from Robert Huth and Danny Higginbotham - will overshadow and doubt the Potters were rightful winners, but a controversial non-call on West Ham's first half equalizer combined with a dubiously given (if ultimately unconverted) penalty kick made Jones, not the Potters, the day's star.

At match's onset it seemed the Potters would be the day's story, controlling the match ahead of a 12th minute goal from Robert Huth. The German defender headed-home a Rory Delap throw after some terrible dead ball defense from West Ham, giving Stoke City a 1-0 lead.

Near the half hour mark, Jones made his first impact, he and his crew unwilling to call hand ball on Frederic Piquionne as the West Ham attacker used an outstretched arm to trap a long ball from Thomas Hitzlsperger. The midfielder had lofted a ball over the Stoke defense, and after Piquionne had used his arm to trap the ball between shoulder and bicep, the French attacker was able to chip the ball over Thomas Sorensen for an equalizer.

Fourteen seconds into the second half, Jones was again wrongly influencing the match, whistling for a penalty on West Ham after Matthew Etherington went down in the Hammers' area. Replays showed the Potters winger was untouched by either Scott Parker or James Tompkins. Thankfully for West Ham and the imaginary Lords of Football Justice, Robert Green saved a poor Etherington attempt, though the denial meant Piquionne's goal would still be determinative.

That effect was wiped away just after the hour mark with Danny Higginbotham blasted home a free kick from 21-yards out. The left-footed rocket was aided by a deflection off Scott Parker's foot, the resulting ball going through a hole in the ball before deflecting off Robert Green's hands and in. Stoke was up 2-1.

Some late heroics from Thomas Sorensen and the woodwork preserved the Potters' lead, a just result in a match made unnecessarily controversial by Jones's bad day. Still, Stoke is on to Wembley, eliminating West Ham from the FA Cup, advancing to the semifinals.

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