x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Pulis hoping to banish heartbreaking memories of Wembley Stadium

Tony Pulis, the Stoke City manager, has business at Wembley Stadium on Sunday for the first time in 12 years, hoping the memories are sweet and not bitter like before.

In 1999 he was in charge of Gillingham with his side 2-0 up against Manchester City in the Division Two play-off final with three minutes to go.

However, Joe Royle's side launched one of the most remarkable comebacks in the history of the national stadium. Kevin Horlock and Paul Dickov, five minutes into stoppage time, took the game into extra time and they went to win 3-1 on penalties.

Pulis, whose side face Bolton Wanderers in the semi-final of the FA Cup this weekend, said: "If you talk about one-off games and how things can swing, we were 2-0 up with about three minutes to go.

"Mark Halsey [the referee], bless him, put an extra five minutes on and we were beaten on penalties.

"The players were absolutely fantastic, and I think Joe and Manchester City had luck on their side that day.

"It went their way and you cannot do anything about that."

If Stoke overcome Bolton then Pulis could face City again as they meet Manchester United tomorrow in the other semi-final.

Thomas Sorensen, the Denmark goalkeeper, will retain his starting place as he has done in previous rounds, with usual first choice Asmir Begovic on the bench. Sorensen has indicated he may not extend his stay at the club but Pulis is hoping he can persuade him to do so.

Pulis said: "Thomas is a top goalkeeper. He is captain of Denmark and wants to play every week.

"It is always going to be a little bit frustrating when you are not. Asmir has come in and done smashing. That is what competition is all about.

"Thomas is a great professional who works really hard and I hope he plays really well on Sunday. He has been outstanding in cup games. We are in talks and fingers crossed a deal will be done."