DONCASTER Rovers came agonisingly close to upsetting the odds against Stoke City and manager Darren Ferguson was impressed with their efforts against the in-form Premier League outfit.
Goals from Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters, either side of a Nathan Tyson leveller, were enough for the Potters to squirm into the next round.
But they had to work extremely hard for it against a side 45 places below them in the football pyramid.
Ferguson said: “It was a very pleasing performance – especially in front of such a big crowd.
“I thought we showed terrific character throughout the game and after we conceded both goals. We had two fantastic opportunities to score at the end and I’m not sure how we didn’t get the replay because we deserved it.
“The league is the focus for us but the players really believed they could win. It was a brilliant atmosphere and it’s frustrating when you create chances but can’t convert them.
“But we are still in good form in the league and we have to continue that now we are out of the cup.”
Roared on by a close to capacity crowd, Rovers began in the ascendancy and Cedric Evina stung the hands of Stoke goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard in only the second minute.
Despite the bright start from the hosts there was something entirely predictable about Stoke’s opener on 14 minutes.
Spaniard Joselu looped in a cross from the right and Crouch sneaked between two defenders to flick the ball home on the volley.
In-form Donny striker Andy Williams spurned a glorious chance to equalise eight minutes later but his close range strike was tame and straight at Haugaard.
But the home faithful did not have long to wait to celebrate. Paul Keegan skipped past several weak challenges on 25 minutes