The Football League Paper - - FA CUP THIRD ROUND - By Mark Wil­liams

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

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