English League Cup Fourth Round review (Tues 30th Oct)
Tuesday nights fixtures provided the footballing world with one of the greatest games ever witnessed in this competition, Arsenal dramatically came back from four-nil down to win the game 7-5 in extra time. Elsewhere 3 premier league sides were dumped out of the cup by lower league opposition.
Leeds 3-0 Southampton
Southampton boss Neil Adkins made 11 changes despite not having another fixture for 6 days, he was left to rue his decision as the second string side were outclassed by full strength Leeds. Warnock chose not to rest players despite having a championship fixture 3 days later on Friday night and it paid dividends.
Luke Varney should’ve put his side ahead with a possible miss of the season when left with an open goal from 2 yards out. It was Warnocks fall guy, Michael Tonge, who put Leeds in front as he slotted home from 18 yards. Varney continued to get on the end of chances, however unsuccessfully, he blazed a shot wide before hitting the crossbar with another. Diouf netted with two minutes left and Becchio made it a drubbing with a spot kick in injury time.
This could turn out to be one bad result to far from Adkins who, before their cup exit, was the bookies favourite as next for the chop.
Sunderland 0-1 Middlesbrough
This Wear- Tees derby was settled in the 39th minute, Scott McDonald capping off a fine performance with a goal that proved to be the winner.
The referee might have expected a busy night but it wasn’t the case. Both teams concentrated on their football rather than getting lost in the charged atmosphere the vocal supporters were creating. Boro, once they went in front, defended their lead superbly. Sunderland were unable to break the Middlesbrough defence down but not through the want of trying. Sessegnon and McClean came closest for the hosts but neither were able to take their chances.
Swindon 2-3 Aston Villa
Villa took a 2-0 lead in at half time through Benteke and Agbonlahor, and might have hoped for an easier second half than they encountered. Swindon were not just going to lay down and accept defeat, and to be honest you would expect anything else with Paolo Di Canio as manager. The Italian had said before the game that it would be like sleeping with Madonna to get through to the next round but unfortunately for him he had no such luck.
Swindon showed grit and determination to get back in the game and drew the game level on the 81st minute expecting the game to go to extra time, but Villa striker Benteke had other ideas as he broke Swindon hearts by grabbing the winner in stoppage time.
Wigan 0-0 Bradford (Bradford won 4-2 on penalties)
Roberto Martinez would’ve expected more from his side as they played out an uninspired goalless draw with League Two outfit Bradford.
Wigan had 58% possession and 22 shots at goal, 11 of those on target which tells the story of the game. Bradford were set out to defend and that is exactly what they did, they mustered only 2 shots on target in 128 minutes. Their game plan worked as, after frustrating Wigan in normal and extra time, the game went to penalties and it was Shaun Maloney and decisively Jordi Gomez who missed their spot kicks as Bradford made it through to the quarter finals, surely hoping for another big away day in the draw.
Reading 4-4 Arsenal (Arsenal won 5-7 after extra time)
Reading found themselves in uncharted territory after taking a 4-0 lead against Arsenal inside 37 minutes. In the first half Arsenals display provided little for the away fans to cheer about and 4 goals in quick succession from Roberts, Koscielny (OG), Leigertwood and Noel Hunt saw some Arsenal fans head for the exits. This proved an awful decision as what came next was nothing short of a miracle,. Theo Walcott gave the gunners a little hope as he chipped over Federici on the stroke of half time.
No doubt Wenger had some stern words for his side but even he couldn’t have envisaged what happened next.
Giroud made it 2-4 and started what turned out to be a brilliant comeback by his side. The next goal, however, did not come until the 89th minute with Koscielny making up for his earlier lapse in concentration by finding the net from close range to make it 3-4. Four minutes were added on by the referee and Arsenal were determined not to leave empty handed, in the FIFTH minute of injury time Walcott bundled over the line despite Nicky Shoreys best efforts to clear , which sent the game into extra time.
Arsenal started the strongest now being back level and soon found themselves in front when ‘forgotten man’ Chamakh got on the score sheet. Pogrebnyak scored next to show that Reading were not done yet but any hopes of winning the game were over when Walcott bagged his hatrick and Chamakh scored, after Federici was found off his line, with a sublime lob.
This will go down in history as one the greatest league cup games ever and will give Arsenal fans new hope in their hunt for a first trophy in 7 years.