League Two minnows hold on for FA Cup replays

By Ryan Moran

  • Villa held by Wycombe at Adams Park while Liverpool scored late on to force replay at Anfield.
  • Eastleigh force a replay after drawing at home against Bolton.
  • Oxford United produced a giant killing over Swansea City.

London, UK – Arsenal cruised into the fourth round of the FA Cup while Aston Villa and Liverpool need home replays to decide their fate against lower league opposition.

The Davids proved tough opponents for the Goliaths

Oxford United produced the shock of the round as they produced the only giant killing of the round so far. Swansea took the lead through Jefferson Montero’s improvised back heel after a tricky one-two with Marvin Emnes.

An apparent foul on Alex McDonald by Kyle Bartley allowed Liam Sercombe to level the scores from the penalty spot before half time. Kemar Roofe scored a brace to put Oxford into a 3-1 lead, curling into the far corner and then beat Jordi Amat for pace to finish past Kristoffer Nordfeldt in the Swansea goal.

A Bafetimbi Gomis strike halved the deficit but the Welsh side couldn’t find an equalizer at the Kassam Stadium, with the home side in the pot for the next round. The result summed up the Swans’ season, a strong start but second best in the middle part of the game. Oxford’s strong run continues with promotion on the cards for Michael Appleton’s side in League Two.

Liverpool kicked off the third round action as the Reds twice came from behind to force a replay against League Two Exeter City at St James’ Park. Josh Read burst down the right wing with a low cross, slid home by Tom Nichols as the Grecians took a shock lead.

Jerome Sinclair scored his first senior Liverpool goal when the home side failed to clear, slotting past Bobby Olejnik in the Exeter goal. Paul Tisdale’s side were back in the lead on the verge of half time, Lee Holmes scoring direct from a corner, Adam Bogdan flapping at the ball as it went over and into the net.

Young left back Brad Smith rescued a replay, volleying in after Sheyi Ojo’s initial effort was blocked on the line. A near unrecognisable Liverpool side fought hard but with Christian Benteke being the only regular first team player on show, experience and team cohesion was always going to be an issue.

Exeter targeted crosses as Liverpool’s weakness and got their reward with both goals coming from crosses. A replay at Anfield to fans will mean more than a victory but gives Jurgen Klopp’s first team players time to recover from injuries.

Aston Villa were held by League Two Wycombe but took the lead through Micah Richards’ effort across goal. Gareth Ainsworth’s side found themselves level when Ashley Westwood was judged to have fouled Matt Bloomfield when challenging for an aerial ball in the penalty area, Joe Jacobson converting from the spot.

Distraught Villa fans made their feelings known to captain Richards, stating a lack of passion from the players, the full back replying that the players are trying to get out of the rut they are currently in, without a win in 16 games. A replay at Villa Park is needed to decide who takes a place in the fourth round of the cup.

Volunteers worked hard at Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium to ensure the game went ahead as planned, a draw with Championship strugglers Bolton made their efforts worthwhile. The non-league side took the lead when Dorian Dervite turned Jai Reason’s cross into his own net.

Darren Pratley kept Bolton’s hopes alive, bundling the ball over the line in a crowded penalty area. A replay at the Reebok Stadium is now needed with the lowest ranked side still in with a chance of progressing to the fourth round.

 

Manchester United scraped through, needing a stoppage time penalty to overcome League One Sheffield United. Dean Hammond’s slide tackle failed to make contact with the ball, Memphis Depay’s reaction slightly over the top but the Dutchman was caught.

Wayne Rooney made no mistake from the spot, sending the goal keeper the wrong way, but major problems appeared to surface from such a poor performance. Paul Scholes suggested United look bored, from the players to Louis Van Gaal himself, covering the game on BT Sport. Scholes also stated Van Gaal doesn’t seem to be utilising his players, Anthony Martial doesn’t have a consistent position, Marouane Fellaini’s strength and size not being exploited, just two examples pointed out by the ex-United midfielder.

Dagenham & Redbridge failed to produce an upset at Goodison Park, Arouna Kone’s header asserting Everton’s dominance in the first half. Kevin Mirallas’ late penalty confirmed the Toffee’s would not be subject to an upset, converting after being tripped by Nyron Nosworthy.

John Still’s side will now focus on maintaining their league status, currently two points ahead of the League Two drop zone. Roberto Martinez will hope his Everton side can emulate the run of his Wigan side three years ago, going on to beat Manchester City in the final.

Chelsea avoided the banana skin of Scunthorpe as Diego Costa calmed nerves with an early goal, glancing in Branislav Ivanovic’s early cross. Guus Hiddink’s side played with confidence from this moment, one-twos coming off that the Blues failed to play under Jose Mourinho.

The second half saw Scunthorpe play a more attacking approach, throwing bodies forward in the hope of an equaliser, the game becoming increasingly more physical. Substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek doubled the Blues’ lead, slotting home Cesar Azpilicueta’s cut back with a first time finish. The midfielder scored with his first shot on target for the home side ever. The two goal cushion saw Chelsea into the fourth round, the Blues’ best chance at silverware comes in this competition, they will be hoping for a good run in the competition.

Tottenham and Leicester need a replay at the King Power Stadium

White Hart Lane’s fixture was the only all Premier League tie to end in a draw, all other ties had a definite result, Arsenal claiming victory in the hunt to win the FA Cup for a third consecutive year.

A late Harry Kane penalty meant a midweek replay will be needed to separate the two sides. Christian Eriksen put the home side ahead, steering in the rebound after Nacer Chadli’s initial effort was saved. Marcin Wasilewski’s header drew Leicester level, debutant Demarai Gray delivering the corner.

Shinji Okazaki put the Foxes into the lead but Nathan Dyer was judged to have handled the ball, trying to tackle Danny Rose. With one minute of normal time remaining, Kane levelled the scores with neither team able to find a winner.

Arsenal beat Sunderland 3-1 for the second time this season, this time coming from behind to claim victory. Jeremaine Lens gave Sunderland the lead, dispossessing Laurent Koscielny before beating Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal.

Three classic Arsenal goals followed, Theo Walcott pulling the ball back from the by-line towards Joel Campbell, the Costa Rican’s half volley beating Jordan Pickford in the Sunderland goal.

Hector Bellerin’s unrivalled pace proved devastating as a one-two with Campbell left Patrick Van Aanholt in his shadow, his low cross tapped in by the Aaron Ramsey. The home side doubled their lead when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s outside of the foot chip found Bellerin again, a cross in the corridor of uncertainty found the clinical Olivier Giroud, slotting past Pickford.

The fourth round beckons for the cup holders while a relegation fight is Sunderland’s sole concern, with no cup competitions remaining. The Gunners will be an unwanted opponent for anyone who watched their slick passing against the Black Cats, Bellerin a challenge for anyone on the right flank.

Manchester City completed a routine victory over Norwich, a somewhat easier victory than in the league victory over the Canaries. Sergio Aguero seemingly nearing the end of the road to recovery, surging through the Norwich back line, stabbing home after neat footwork from the Argentine.

Aguero was once again on hand to assist Kelechi Iheanacho, the striker darting into the box, laying the ball off to the Nigerian who poked the ball in to double City’s lead. Kevin De Bruyne added a third, jinking into the box with a shot straight at John Ruddy, going through his legs. The Citizens could have had four with Jesus Navas striking the bar in the second half.

Southampton’s form has taken a nose dive in recent weeks, one win in their last eight league games, the cup may be a welcome break for Ronald Koeman’s side with Crystal Palace the visitors, fresh from defeat against Chelsea.  Having been knocked out by the Eagles in the fourth round last year, revenge will be wanted by the South Coast outfit.

Southampton’s poor run continued as Crystal Palace left the South Coast with their name in the hat for the fourth round. Palace pressed the Saints on the halfway line and when Jason Puncheon broke free after winning the ball back, the winger squared to Joel Ward who fired in from close range.

Oriol Romeu pulled Ronald Koeman’s side level, after Cuco Martina’s initial effort was saved. Southampton stayed level for under 20 minutes, Puncheon’s curling effort saved by Maarten Stekelenburg, the loose ball half volleyed in by Wilfried Zaha.

A single goal was the difference at Vicarage Road, Newcastle finally taking the competition seriously with a strong line-up. The wasteful Magpies were punished for not taking the many chances they had in the first half as one lapse in concentration cost Steve Mclaren’s side a place in the fourth round. Troy Deeney broke free and rounded Rob Elliot as the Hornets made it through to the next round.

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Did FA Cup form contrast the sides’ league form?

Colchester find themselves five points adrift of safety in League One, with Charlton in the Championship relegation zone by one point. Callum Harriot watched as the club he has just returned from being on loan at, defeated his parent club, Rheza Ghoochannejhad’s late header only a consolation.

Early Colchester pressure finally took its toll on Karel Fraeye’s side, Marvin Sordell playing George Moncur, cutting onto his left foot to find the top corner. Sordell doubled the U’s lead when the striker broke free and finished at the front post. Cristian Ceballos’ effort hit the post moments before for the away side but not close enough to level the scores at 1-0. The home side held on to book their place in the next round, despite poor league form.

Derby County came from behind to beat a Hartlepool side at the wrong end of the League Two table. Jake Gray spectacularly volleyed Pool into the lead but eventual chance conversion ended the home side’s run in the competition.

Early chances were not taken by the Rams, Jacob Butterfield pulled the away side level from outside the box, midway through the second half. Darren Bent’s late volley across goal was enough to see Paul Clement’s side in round four.

Steve Evans recorded victory over his former employees, Rotherham United, with both goals coming late in each half. An even first half was ended with a superb goal on debut for Mustapha Carayol, driving across goal into the top right corner.

The home side dominated the second half, Stuart Dallas hitting the bar before Souleymane Doukara poached the ball from Lee Camp’s grasp, with an open goal the target, doubling his side’s lead. Rotherham’s league troubles continue; the Millers now have no cup distractions on their league survival chances.

Of the weekend’s other fixtures:

Birmingham City 1-2 AFC Bournemouth

Brentford 0-1 Walsall

Bradford 0-0 Bury

Cardiff  0-1 Shrewsbury

Doncaster 1-2 Stoke City

Huddersfield 2-2 Reading

Hull City 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion

Ipswich 2-2 Portsmouth

Middlesbrough 1-2 Burnley

Northampton 2-2 MK Dons

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Queens Park Rangers

Peterborough United 2-0 Preston

Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Fulham

West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Carlisle 2-2 Yeovil

All replays will be played on Tuesday 19th January, with Liverpool vs Exeter on Wednesday 20th January.

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