Zaha sees off Stoke as Palace march on

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP FOURTH ROUND - By Nick Sellers

ALAN Pardew sees no rea­son why his Crys­tal Palace side can’t go on and win the FA Cup af­ter reach­ing the fifth round at the ex­pense of Stoke City.

Pardew has come within touch­ing dis­tance of lift­ing the tro­phy in pre­vi­ous years and never closer than a decade ago, when he man­aged West Ham to Wem­b­ley only to lose out to favourites Liverpool on penal­ties.

And the 54-year-old is still in the hat this time round, af­ter Wil­fried Zaha’s first-half strike was enough to con­demn Stoke to their se­cond cup exit in a week.

“We’re do­ing well in the league and in the fifth round of the FA Cup,” said Pardew.

“I’d have taken that at the start of the sea­son.

“Lesser teams than our­selves have won the com­pe­ti­tion in re­cent years so we’ve got a chance.

“I re­ally wanted a strong per­for­mance from the team. Ev­ery­one put a per­for­mance in at or above their level.

“We needed a win for our fans, who have fol­lowed us for the past three games. I think we re­warded them.”

Palace were ahead af­ter 17 min­utes, when Zaha sprinted through the Pot­ters de­fence and calmly slot­ted past Jakob Hau­gaard.

They could per­haps have had a nu­mer­i­cal ad­van­tage as well on the half-hour mark as Marc Wil­son es­caped with a yel­low card fol­low­ing a late tackle of Fra­zier Camp­bell.

Stoke did have chances to force a re­play, Switzer­land in­ter­na­tional Xher­dan Shaqiri fir­ing nar­rowly over the cross­bar twice dur­ing the 90 min­utes, but the hosts held firm to reach round five.

And Pot­ters boss Mark Hughes, who af­forded some of his big­ger names a rest af­ter their League Cup de­feat to Liverpool via a penalty shootout on Tues­day evening, con­ceded his side hit a brick wall.

“We found it dif­fi­cult to break them down,” said Hughes.

“I had to freshen up some po­si­tions and a lot of key play­ers were un­avail­able.

“We just lacked a lit­tle qual­ity in our fi­nal ball and our end prod­uct when we got in de­cent po­si­tions wasn’t quite good enough.”

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