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Monday, 29 September 2008

Squarefootball Diary - Tuesday September 23 2008

Cup shock enthusiasts must make do with a couple of minor upsets on the opening night of third round Carling Cup action.

Premier League West Ham United are downed 1-0 by Watford thanks to an own goal by Hayden Mullins 20 minutes from time.  The former Crystal Palace man is the unfortunate scorer after stand-in goalkeepr Jan Lastuvka fluffs Lee Willamson's free-kick;

"I said to the players that it doesn't have to change our positive attitude to the work we're doing." says ultra-positive Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola.

Fulham kiss their hopes goodbye also, losing by the only goal at Burnley.  Just two minutes remain when Jay Rodriguez delivers the telling blow;

"Now we are in the last 16 who knows what awaits us." asks Burnley boss Owen Coyle rhetorically, remembering a time when the claret and blue were serial silverware collectors;

"The Premier League is our priority and some of my players have niggling injuries." is Fulham manager Roy Hodgson's frankly lamentable excuse.

Rotherham United may be another victim of the Football League's policy of penalising teams out of existence, but their fans can at least celebrate a reasonable cup run.  Having already disposed of Sheffield Wednesday and Wolverhampton Wanderers the Millers cruise past Southampton 3-1 at Don Valley Stadium.  Nick Fenton, Danny Harrison and Drewe Broughton are on the mark for the South Yorkshire outfit, with Stern John replying for the Saints.

The all-Premierhip clash between Manchester United and Middlesbrough has a predictable enough conclusion, but sprucing things up slightly in the Old Trafford side's 3-1 win is the controversy involving Emannuel Pogatetz and United youngster Rodrigo Possebon.  The former is dismissed for a shocking tackle on the latter, who sustains a suspected broken leg as a result;

"What gets me about challenges like that is that the opponent always claims he has done nothing wrong." fumes Sir Alex, who absolutely has NEVER claimed to be innocent despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary;

"At least Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate was very good about it. He apologised and understood the gravity." he adds, after seeing goals from the returning Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and Nani seal United's progress.

Arsenal's youngsters have been prominent in this competition for a number of years now, and tonight they serve up another masterclass in thrashing Sheffield United 6-0 at the Emirates Stadium.  Mexican striker Carlos Vela bags a hat-trick, while there are two for Nicklas Bendtner and another for Jack Wilshere;

"The team showed a good mixture of talent." starts Gunners boss Arsene Wenger;

"They also showed a mature collective spirit to play the way we want to play. They remained focused and they looked a complete team. I am very proud of that.";

"They were awesome at times and would have beaten most teams. A lot of people would like to know how Arsene Wenger can do it." admits Blades boss Kevin Blackwell.

Both Stoke City and Sunderland require penalties to dispose of lower league opposition.  Tony Pulis' Potters draw 2-2 with Reading after extra time, emerging 4-3 winners in the shoot-out after James Henrys' miss.  Meanwhile Sunderland manager Roy Keane is apalled with his men despite their gutsy fight back from 2-0 down at home to Northampton Town.  Anthony Stokes scores twice in the last five minutes for the Black Cats, paving the way for a 4-3 win on penalties.  Not that Keane is about to let that get in the way of a good rant;

"It was probably one of the worst and longest nights I have ever had in my football career. It was a shambles." he rages;

"From the start, it was walking pace, nobody sprinting, the passing was awful, nobody was prepared to run off the ball, supporters booing everybody, abusing me towards the end." he explains, and that's just the positives.

Liverpool are safely through after beating Crewe Alexandra 2-1 at Anfield, while Swansea City's Jordi Gomez scores the goal that helps his side beat Welsh rivals Cardiff City at the Liberty Stadium.  Leeds United hold off Hartlepool United 3-2 courtesy of Andy Robinson's injury time winner.

By Stephen Orford

29 September 2008   



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