Byline: DAVID KENT
DANNY Higginbotham goals are rare things but the defender was in the right place at the right time to head Stoke on the way to victory.
And a far more predictable source of goals -- a Rory Delap throw-in -- sealed the victory as Kenwyne Jones also headed in. It was a pleasing night for Stoke fans, although it was almost one to forget for their goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. The Bosnian stopper was given warm applause when his name was announced before his first appearance since refusing to play in the previous round against Shrewsbury.
Manager Tony Pulis issued a pre-match plea to fans to lay off him but had Clint Dempsey converted his gilt-edged chance after the goalkeeper spilled a simple cross, even he might have been on his back.
Both teams fielded strong sides for this match. There was a sedate opening -- but the contest soon came to life when Danny Murphy reacted to Matt Etherington's challenge on Moussa Dembele. The resulting confrontation threatened to boil over, with Fulham's captain angrily throwing the ball towards his opponent. He still complained bitterly after referee Mark Halsey booked both players but regained his composure in time to block Jones' effort. Fulham escaped on that occasion but, three minutes later, the defence criminally watched Etherington's corner drift to the far post while Higginbotham raced on to it. …