FAC: Manchester City 1-1 Stoke City

Ricardo Fuller’s second-half equaliser earned Stoke a replay after

the Potters drew 1-1 at Manchester City in the FA Cup fifth round.

England boss Fabio Capello watched one of the Premier

League’s most destructive attacking weapons wreak more havoc as the

Potters salvaged an draw at Eastlands.

The chapter titled ‘Long Throws’ is probably not very

extensive in the Italian soccer manual, but Capello and fellow

countryman Roberto Mancini now understand what Rory Delap can do

after his throw was powered home by Ricardo Fuller to give Tony

Pulis’ men a deserved replay.

Prior to that 57th-minute effort, Capello’s trip to Eastlands

looked more like being memorable for a defensive howler from

England hopeful Ryan Shawcross, a goal for Shaun Wright-Phillips

and a decent performance by man-of-the-moment Wayne Bridge.

With less than four months to England’s opening World Cup

game against the USA in Rustenburg and a fortnight until the squad

is named for the friendly against Egypt – the last before a

provisional squad is named in mid-May – any chance to impress

Capello in person needs to be taken.

For Bridge, gaining selection is not so much the issue.

Capello also needs to know the defender is willing to share a

dressing room with one-time team-mate John Terry.

However, the Italian would have been impressed by Bridge’s

forceful bursts, the type that England would miss so badly if

Ashley Cole’s recovery from a broken ankle takes longer than the

projected three months.

Bridge also made a brave block to deny Liam Lawrence at the

other end, although he had turned his back on the Stoke man’s

fierce goalbound shot, so credit is only partially due.

At the moment, Wright-Phillips falls foul of Capello’s

insistence that he needs players who play.

This was only the little winger’s third start in 12 matches

since Mancini took charge.

That is not the return Wright-Phillips needs as he looks to

exploit Theo Walcott’s poor form and nick one of those right-sided

midfield berths that David Beckham and Aaron Lennon are also out to

claim.

Wright-Phillips’ dribbling ability has never been in

question, nor the likelihood that he will occasionally pop up with

an explosive finish.

But too often he fails to do the nuts and bolts of his job,

so he must have been particularly pleased with the scrappy manner

of his first-half opener, even if Shawcross has nightmares about

it.

Sent racing clear of the Stoke defence by Stephen Ireland,

Wright-Phillips lifted the ball over the advancing Thomas Sorensen.

Shawcross galloped back and appeared to have taken control of

the situation, only to first miss his kick completely, then, after

tumbling over, headed a ball that would have bounced out for a

corner straight into Wright-Phillips’ path for the easiest of

one-yard finishes.

Who knows what Capello made of it but it presumably did not

involve making a mental note to reserve Shawcross a place in his

23-man World Cup squad, which has been suggested in some quarters.

In addition to their self-inflicted damage, Stoke lost

Matthew Etherington and his replacement Lawrence to serious-looking

injuries sustained in innocuous incidents before the break.

When Andy Wilkinson was forced off within 10 minutes of the

restart, it seemed the visitors were destined to endure a miserable

afternoon.

Then Delap hurled in one of his bombs and the whole contest

changed.

Shay Given has received many plaudits over the course of his

illustrious career. Yet he remains reluctant to come off his line

to help his defenders out in the six-yard box.

That is exactly where Delap aimed his missiles and the

Irishman remained rooted to his line as Fuller powered a header

past him.

Stoke threatened to win the tie through Glenn Whelan and were

fully deserving of their draw, even though Sorensen brilliantly

tipped Barry’s near-post header over and Wright-Phillips drove a

shot into the side-netting before Shawcross turned away a Roque

Santa Cruz effort that was going wide anyway.