Millwall – Aston Villa
Darren Bent scored first for Villa but true to form, Villa can’t buy a win. Not even against Millwall. Millwall came back only 5 minutes later to equalise with a Shittu goal and finished the hapless Birmingham team off with a goal 2 minutes from time by Marquis. Simply put, the less said about Villa games the better.
Stoke – Manchester City
City were magnificent in the first half everywhere except the Stoke 16 yard box. Their defending was solid, the build-up play second to none but the finishing left a lot to be desired. Great plays by Silva were wasted by Tevez and Džeko in almost equal numbers, either through lack of commitment to get to the ball or poor choices when they did. Stoke started the second half the brighter of the two sides but poor decision making let them down without threatening the City goal effectively. Just as the game looked like ending goalless, Zabaleta arrived at the back post to steer in Sergio Aguero’s cross with five minutes remaining. Substitute Cameron Jerome could have forced a replay but fired over from 12 yards in stoppage time, while Peter Crouch also headed over late on. It was a largely forgettable game, with Stoke failing to fire, but the win was Manchester City’s first at the Potters since 1999 when both teams were in Football League Division Two.
Brighton – Arsenal
Arsenal continue to make life difficult for themselves with poor defending. In attack they are as good as anyone with Giroud scoring beautiful centre forward goals. Brighton refused to lie down and made the gunners fight to the last minute. Good pressure by Arsenal allowed Walcott to force a deflected own goal with only a few minutes left. Great football by Brighton. Great escape by Arsenal. Result 3 -2.
QPR – MK Dons
Harry Redknapp made 9 changes from the team that drew with West Ham a week earlier. The line-up still included 7 internationals and yet they were FOUR – NIL down inside 56 minutes. Humiliation doesn’t begin to describe the performance! QPR managed two goals in the last 8 minutes to narrow the margin. The result does not reflect the shots on goal or the possession which QPR dominated, 22-9 and 53/47 but it’s goals that count and QPR and Redknapp have a lot to do if they wish to stay in the Premier League.
Reading – Sheffield Utd
Noel Hunt scored twice as Reading eased into the fifth round of the FA Cup with victory over Sheffield United. The Royals raced into an early lead when Hunt nodded in from close range before midfielder Mikele Leigertwood made it 2-0 shortly before half-time with a fierce effort from distance. Hunt grabbed his second with a scuffed effort from fellow forward Garath McCleary’s cross. McCleary scored a fourth with a well taken left-footed strike.
Manchester Utd – Fulham
Possibly the pick of the days fixtures saw the 2 premier league teams meet in the prime TV slot. Inside 2 minutes Fulham conceded a penalty with a foolish hand ball in the area. Ryan Giggs stepped up to convert, much to the relief of SAF after United had missed 5 of the last 9 penalties. Damian Duff got away with another handball in the area in the 20th minute but referee Clattenburg dismissed all appeals.
Two quick goals by Rooney and Hernández at the beginning of the 2nd half put the tie to bed. In the 66th minute Hernández turned Hughes inside out and scored via a deflection off the same player, 4-0.
In the 77th minute Hughes made up for his earlier blunder with a superb header from a corner, beating De Gea on his near post. In the 82nd minute Clattenburg denied what looked like a perfectly legitimate goal by Rooney for pushing by Hernández in the box. Highlight of the game for the neutral fan may be the incredible dribble by Nani in the 85th minute which should have lead to a goal.
Brentford – Chelsea
Fernando Torres struck a late equaliser to spare Chelsea the embarrassment of being knocked out of the FA Cup by League One Brentford. As expected Chelsea shaded the possession and shots at goal but only just. Brentford were the better side for long periods and twice lead. The desire of the underdog was evidently greater in John Terry’s return to competitive football. The introduction of Mata gave Chelsea some much needed inspiration and Chelsea appeared to take control, capped by the goal of Oscar. Brentford showed real character and fought hard to wrestle control back and deservedly were awarded a penalty which they converted. Demba Ba was thrown into the mix with 8 minutes to play but Torres was the one who came up with the superb curling shot that equalled the scores.
Leeds – Tottenham
In yet another surprise result in this season’s FA Cup, Leeds completely outplayed Spurs and deservedly lead 2 – 0 with 5 minutes played in the 2nd half. An early goal from Varney in the 15th minute was followed by a great curling strike from McCormack in the 50th. Spurs looked flat and disinterested until Dempsey scored in the 58th. Spurs were fired up and started to force the pace with Bale and Lennon running hard at the tiring Leeds defenders. Tottenham were at best neat in midfield and toothless in attack, probably because Dempsey isn’t an out and out striker who can play unsupported. AVB might have some questions to answer about leaving Defoe, his only in-form out and out centre forward out of the line-up. The match finished 2-1, another good result for the lower league teams.
Oldham – Liverpool
Liverpool started what can only be described as a sub-standard line-up. Rodgers clearly underestimating the will of the Oldham team to put one over their more illustrious opponents. In 2012 Liverpool smashed Oldham 5 -1 in the 3rd round!
Although classy players like Suarez and recent signing Sturridge were in the line-up, the rest, although not unknown in most cases, are no more than average players to begin with and could not contain the spirit of Oldham.
Matt Smith towered above the Liverpool defence in the 3rd minute and headed down to open the scoring. Suarez was allowed to run into the area and easily finished the chance to level the scores in the 17th minute. Sterling fluffed an easy opportunity on the half hour mark when he hit his shot straight at Oldham keeper, Dean Bouzanis.
At the other end a goalkeeper error by Jones allowed Smith to tap in from close range for his second just before half time.
Straight from the kick off Borini had an opportunity to equalize but scooped his shot over the bar. Only minutes later Wabara headed in from a deep cross by Winchester, 3 -1.
Rodgers spurred into action by the looming defeat to lowly Oldham introduced England captain Gerrard and Stuart Downing. Gerrard almost single-handedly changed the flow of the game. Liverpool gained a definite grip on the game and he hit the cross bar with a superb effort late on. Joe Allen scored his first ever Liverpool goal with a nicely taken volley which took a deflection to beat Bouzanis, 3 – 2, with 10 minutes to go.
Liverpool practically set up camp in the Oldham penalty area but could not find a way through the determined defence.
Round 5 fixtures:
· Huddersfield – Wigan
· MK Dons – Barnsley
· Oldham – Everton (Its Furman vs. Pienaar!)
· Luton – Millwall
· Arsenal – Blackburn
· Man City – Leeds
· Man Utd – Reading
· Middlesbrough – Chelsea / Brentford