By Joe Behan
A late equalizer by Charlton Athletic against Dagenham & Redbridge robbed the conference side of the first-ever non-League team to defeat a Premiership team in the FA Cup.
Junior McDougald put the part-timers in front with a header just before halftime at Charlton. The scoreline was right going in at the half. With four minutes remaining, John Salako popped up for Charlton to save the day for Alan Curbishley and give Athletic the replay.
Charlton, while playing well in the Premiership, is struggling with Cup games. Already knocked out of the Worthington Cup by Stoke, they were lucky to get away with the draw and they were second best on the day against the non-Leaguers.
The semi-professionals, supported by 3,000 fans singing, "Who Let the Dogs Out," were so close to the best win by an underdog ever in the competition. Dagenham tired toward the end and Curbishley’s substitutions made the difference, the goal scorer, Solako, being one of them.
Fulham test Utd.
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Manchester United just about made their way into the next round of the Cup thanks to a Teddy Sheringham winner coming off the bench at Craven Cottage. Ole Gunnar Solskj’r’s opened the score within 10 minutes for Utd., but Jean Tigana’s Fulham was not impressed with the goal lead and began to play the Premier Kings of the field.
Fulham’s Louis Saha and Lee Clark were outstanding and will feel hard done by with Sheringham’s strike coming just two minutes left on the clock. Tigana was unable to repeat the past triumph he had over Utd. for Monaco in the Champions League. But Craven Road may find themselves getting another bite at Utd. on a regular basis next year with the way Fulham are dominating Div. 1.
Alex Ferguson brought on Sheringham with 15 minutes left as Utd. took over the game. Fulham at the same time were understrength, but Utd., once again, got the best out of the Ole and Teddy combo. Now, where have we seen that before? Sheringham has now hit 16 so far this season.
Arsenal 1, Carlisle Utd. 0
Third Division Carlisle, the very bottom of the Football League, made things difficult for the Gunners in this fiery affair. Although Sylvain Wiltord scored a really good game winner in the 22nd minute, it was tempers that roused Arsene Wenger of the Arsenal bench to protest. Players shaped up to each other after Patrick Vieira was at the end of an outrageous tackle by Carlisle’s Richard Prokas.
It became obvious early on that the Third Division team were to rely on toughness against the slicker Londoners. Closing down Vieira at all costs created some chances in the first half.
At the start of the second half, players were still squaring up to each other. Arsenal’s Ashley Cole sized up Mark Birch and both received a lecture from the referee. Arsenal was unable to extend their lead even though the Premier giants were all over Carlisle, whose goalkeeper was man of the match. The Gunners will not get away with missing chances against better opposition, and Carlisle have nothing to be ashamed of.
Tottenham Hotspur 1, Leyton Orient 0
Leyton Orient took Spurs right to the wire until the luck of the Irish intervened in injury time. Versatile Gary Doherty gave Spurs a badly needed win to keep Tottenham alive in the FA Cup. Spurs struggled and it took a Darren Anderton corner in the 92nd minute to break the deadlock. Anderton swung a corner in from the left and its flight caused the Leyton defense confusion as the big Irish hero rushed in to score his second in five days.
Southampton 1, Sheffield United 0
With 18 minutes remaining and Sheffield looking like another clean sheet, the game was decided in one of those incidents that we’d rather forget. Sheffield United goalkeeper Simon Tracey failed to hold a shot and from the rebound he appeared to bring down striker James Beattie as they contested the loose ball.
Southampton captain Jason Dodd put the penalty away and then the ref sent off Bobby Ford for protesting the decision. Southampton’s performance slipped after Hoddle got things right with a poor start to the season. The Dell will be happy to have dispatched United as a replay could have set Hoddle back a little. Appeals continued after the game and Sheffield could not let the injustice go they must now concentrate on a return to the Premier, which may be out of their reach.
Leeds United 1, Barnsley 0
Leeds United did not convince anybody with this win over Barnsley. In fact, the Elland Road faithful are borderline with their loyalty to O’Leary and the abundance of talented players who have a problem finishing. Winning just one point from a possible nine over the holiday season places Leeds in 14th place in the Premiership, their worst league position since September 1997. More alarmingly, United are just six points adrift of the relegation zone. Their performance was typical as they came out like an express train but lacked the shape to maintain superiority over the Div. 1 side.
FA Cup Roundup
Everton scored twice in the last 10 minutes, winning 2-1, to rob an unlucky Watford, who lost their composure toward the end of this Cup game. Manchester City held out a second-half comeback by Birmingham at Maine Road to win 3-2. Nerves were put to the test in Joe Royle’s camp and a run in the FA Cup for City is crucial for their survival in the Premiership. West Ham United, winning 3-2, also had to weather a small storm brought on by Walsall in the last few minutes of this close call for the Hammers.
It was yet another 3-2 win for a Premier side, Derby County, as they held off a spirited fight back by West Brom , who fell a little short on time to even things up. Sunderland could manage only a draw against Crystal Palace and Peter Reid has his work cut out in the replay. Newcastle and Aston Villa live to fight another day in an all out Premier battle that United survived with a late equalizer.
Good away wins by Wolves, Kingstonian, Stockport County, Tranmere Rovers, and Gillingham are the kind of results along with the close shaves by the Premier clubs that will make the FA Cup a potential best.