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Luton Town 1 Stoke City 1 (aet, 7-8 on pens): Hughes´ men survive scare on Bojan´s return

Stoke City survived a huge scare in squeezing past Luton Town 8-7 on penalties to reach round three of the League Cup on Tuesday.

Mark Hughes’ men dominated possession at Kenilworth Road, but lacked quality in the final third and were forced into extra time when Cameron McGeehan cancelled out Jonathan Walters’ opener to make it 1-1 in the 91st minute.

Stoke eventually progressed against a side that sits 22nd in League Two as Scott Griffiths became the only player out of 16 to miss from 12 yards, following a goalless additional period, giving Geoff Cameron the opportunity to put his team through.

The main positive for Stoke came through Bojan’s return to competitive action, the Spaniard completing 87 minutes seven months on from suffering a serious knee injury in an FA Cup tie against Rochdale.

Walters, whose future remains uncertain amid interest from Norwich City, latched on to a delicate pass from Stephen Ireland and cleverly lobbed Luton goalkeeper Elliot Justham to put Stoke in front midway through the second half.

However, having been starved of possession for much of the match, Luton finished strongly and levelled through lively substitute McGeehan before holding their own in extra time.

A much-changed Stoke made an assured start, but Luton gradually gained a foothold in the game and an ambitious long-range effort from Griffiths was tipped over by Shay Given – making his first competitive start for the Potters.

Home appeals for a penalty were turned down as Danny Green surged into the box and tumbled under a challenge from Marko Arnautovic.

Stoke were soon back on the front foot, a low drive from Walters bringing a routine save from Justham before promising work from Bojan ended with the playmaker dragging a tame shot off target. Yet there was not too much to concern Luton as the underdogs reached the interval on level terms.

Peter Crouch sent an acrobatic volley wide from a Bojan cross amid greater intensity from Stoke at the beginning of the second half and came closer still when his header from a deep cross forced Justham to react sharply at his near post.

Yet after the former England international had been replaced by Joselu, it was Walters who finally broke the deadlock in the 67th minute – clipping the ball over Justham with the outside of his right boot following Ireland’s clever pass.

Stoke looked to have done enough after coming through a late spell of home pressure that saw McGeehan and fellow substitute Ryan Hall denied by Giv

McGeehan was not finished, though, and the 20-year-old had the simple task of applying a close-range finish in stoppage time when Griffiths delivered a superb cross from the left.

The two goalscorers threatened again in the first half of extra time, Walters testing Justham once more before McGeehan fired into the side netting.

But a penalty shootout was required to separate the teams and Griffiths was the only man to miss as he struck the crossbar after 14 successful conversions.

Tue 25 Aug, 2015
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