Stephen Ireland opens Stoke account in League Cup win over Tranmere

Tranmere Rovers’ Max Power (centre) and Stoke City’s Stephen Ireland during the League Cup, third round match at Prenton Park, Tranmere. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Tranmere Rovers’ Max Power (centre) and Stoke City’s Stephen Ireland during the League Cup, third round match at Prenton Park, Tranmere. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Wed, Sep 25, 2013, 22:19

Stephen Ireland marked his first Stoke City start with a goal as the Potters claimed a place in the fourth round of the League Cup.

Former England striker Peter Crouch added a last-gasp second as Mark Hughes’ side saw off League One Tranmere 2-0 at Prenton Park.

Cork midfielder Ireland, hoping to rejuvenate his career after moving on a season-long loan from Aston Villa, struck midway through the first half with Crouch striking with the last kick of the game.

Stoke should have won more comfortably and spurned numerous other chances, particularly in the first half.

Papiss Cisse’s first goal since April helped to ease Newcastle into the fourth round at the expense of Leeds United.

Cisse’s drought finally ended 31 minutes into a pulsating encounter when he powered a header past former Ireland goalkeeper Paddy Kenny to end a run stretching back to the 1-1 Europa League draw with Benfica on April 11th.

But the tie remained in the balance until deep into the second half when strike-partner Yoan Gouffran blasted home to wrap up a 2-0 win over the Championship side.

Leeds gave as good as they got for long periods with powerhouse frontman Matt Smith causing all kinds of problems for defenders Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson