FA Cup - Crawley fall to 10-man Stoke
Tony Pulis was deeply angered by referee Mike Jones's decision to dismiss Delap for a dangerous challenge on David Hunt after only 17 minutes as the tie appeared to swing in favour of the lowest ranked side remaining in the competition, and a club situated 60 places below their Premier League opponents in the league ladder.
However, last season's losing finalists took the lead through Jon Walters following a contentious penalty award after 42 minutes and Peter Crouch extended their lead eight minutes into the second half when heading home from a Glenn Whelan free kick.
League Two Crawley finished strongly - with Tyrone Barnett having a shot cleared off the line in injury time by the arm of Danny Collins, who went unpunished - but ultimately were unable to exploit their numerical advantage and fell at the fifth round for a second consecutive season following last season's defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
With Crawley having their own answer to the long throws of Delap in the form of David Hunt, and Stoke all too frequently resorting to aerial balls to Crouch, the game was a rather unlovable affair initially.
Though Crawley hit the woodwork after only eight minutes when Crouch inadvertently directed the ball against the bar with his thigh from a corner, and Walters threatened with a low effort that flew just wide at the other end, it required the intervention of referee Jones to liven things up as he made a series of controversial decisions.
After 17 minutes Delap got the ball in a challenge with Hunt but went in hard with his studs up and off the ground. Jones, pressurised by the howls of Crawley manager Steve Evans from the touchline, appeared to be instructed by fourth official Lee Probert to send the Stoke man off and manager Pulis was absolutely incensed with what appeared a marginally harsh decision.
It was then Crawley's turn to feel aggrieved, with Ryan Shawcross the culprit on two occasions. The defender first blatantly knocked Barnett to ground in the Stoke box for what seemed a clear penalty, before then becoming involved in another contentious incident at the other end of the pitch.
With five minutes remaining of the half Shawcross did well to get in between Kyle McFadzean and the ball in the penalty area and went to ground rather theatrically when the Crawley defender made light contact with his thigh.
Walters converted the penalty for his seventh goal in nine games in the FA Cup, and a rather stormy encounter continued after the half-time whistle was blown with Shawcross reportedly pushing Evans in the chest in the tunnel to protest at what he perceived to be the opposition manager's role in Delap's dismissal.
Crawley were put further in their place just seven minutes into the second half. Claude Davis was booked for a clumsy challenge on Cameron Jerome and Whelan supplied a fine free kick from the left which curled into the back post. Crouch rose above his marker to get his head to the ball and steered it back across goal and inside the far post.
Despite being a man down, Stoke were proving rather effective at keeping their League Two opponents quiet, but required a fine piece of defending from Collins to keep Barnett at bay after 66 minutes when he stuck out a leg to block the striker's firm shot.
Sanchez Watt, on loan from Arsenal, went close when collecting a square pass from Scott Nielsen and thumping a fine effort just over the bar from 20 yards out. The striker then tested Begovic with a firm drive from the edge of the box following a clever run and pass from Nielsen.
Watt had come to exert an ever-greater influence on the tie and was only prevented from heading Crawley back into the game on 83 minutes when Shawcross came across to beat him to a devilish cross from the right from Nielsen.
There was still time for Barnett to execute a lovely overhead kick in injury time, only for Collins to clear off the line with his arm but go unpunished for the offence as referee Jones was at fault again.
However, as impressive as Crawley's finish was, Stoke held firm to shake off the smallest side left in the FA Cup and reach the quarter-finals.