KING IS ROVERS JEWEL IN CROWN
And Royals march on to quarter-finals
GARY Bowyer said Josh King’s shooting practice had at last paid off after his stunning hat-trick sent Blackburn Rovers into the sixth round of the FA Cup with a stunning 4-1 win over ten-man Stoke.
The striker notched his first of the afternoon on 35 minutes with a close range header to make it 1-1 after Peter Crouch had given the visitors a tenth-minute lead.
King then won a penalty in firsthalf injury-time when he was hauled down by Geoff Cameron, who was subsequently sent off, and Rudy Gestede slotted home from the spot.
The afternoon belonged to former Manchester United trainee King, though, as he twice sped in behind the Stoke defence at the start of the second half before slotting calmly beyond Jack Butland.
“Josh showed fantastic pace and the pleasing thing was the one-on-one chances he tucked away,” Bowyer said.
“He had a long way to go and had a lot going through his head but he managed to keep his composure. He works hard to improve his shooting on the training ground and it’s paid off.
“He won the penalty in the first half and he could’ve had another early on when he was brought down.” Blackburn have now beaten Premier League opposition in each of the last two rounds, having seen off Swansea City in the fourth round, and Bowyer said his players should at last get the credit they deserve. “They didn’t get enough recognition after the last round. Josh will get the headlines but we were outstanding, every man. We made it a real cup-tie and I’m delighted,” he added.
Stoke dominated the early exchanges and took the lead when Crouch fired into the roof of the net on the end of a Victor Moses corner.
Mame Biram Diouf then fed Marko Arnautovic inside the box but he found the side-netting rather than the back of the net. The game turned on that chance. Stoke failed to deal with Craig Conway’s corner-kick on 35 minutes and King nodded home Shane Duffy’s downward header to equalise.
The striker was then dragged to the floor by Cameron as he ran onto Gestede’s hooked ball over the top and referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot and showed the defender a red card, with Gestede making no mistake from the spot right on half-time.
Stoke had no answer to King’s pace in the second period and he first ran onto Conway’s through ball and finished underneath Butland before repeating the trick on the end of a Gestede pass.
Defender Marc Muniesa pulled his hamstring trying to keep up with the striker for his second and Stoke manager Mark Hughes admitted King’s speed was their undoing.
The ex-Rovers boss said: “We didn’t deal with their attack, they had lots of pace and an aerial threat and we didn’t pick up first and second balls. If you try and go with King in a foot race, the boy is probably going to beat you.
“It was a different sort of threat to the Premier League but we’ve faced plenty of players who are good in the air and run in behind, we just didn’t deal with that.
“I won’t hide behind the penalty, you’ve seen them given, but we just didn’t respond well to going down to ten men.
“We won’t hide behind the red card, the better team won and I wish Blackburn well in the next round.”
CLASS ACT: Blackburn’s Josh King scores the fourth goal, and seals his hat-trick, in the 4-1 FA Cup romp against Stoke
HAT-TRICK HERO: Blackburn’s Josh King scores the fourth goal to put the icing on the cake
a penalty CLINICAL: Gestede notches