Cool Caley and chilly Killie beat freeze

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The Independent Online
THE second cold snap of the winter did a far more effective job than did the first of obliterating the League and Cup programmes in Britain. Snow and ice wiped out all but three FA Cup fourth round matches and one Endsleigh League game in England. Scotland fared little better: only five Tennent's Cup third round matches and one in the League Division Two were possible. It gave the Pools Panel their biggest-ever day's work.

Premier strugglers Kilmarnock upset form at blizzard-swept Easter Road to beat Hibernian by two Paul Wright goals, taking his season's total to 10 and setting up a fourth round home tie against Hearts or Partick. "I am delighted," Killie manager Alex Totten said. "All anyone can ask for is a home draw."

And perhaps to avoid Rangers or Celtic, which is not what Premier club Raith, 3-0 winners over stubborn Queen's Park of the Third, managed. They next play Celtic or Whitehill Welfare, who meet at Easter Road today. "We will need to have Whitehill watched," the Raith manager, Jimmy Nichol, jested.

"I am just glad to get through that one," he added. "The conditions were terrible and Queen's Park had us worried on a few occasions. But we were okay once the first goal went in." That was after 71 minutes.

Welfare's pounds 3-a-game players will receive a Government-guideline busting pay increase of pounds 197 for the match. An apprehensive Dave Smith, the Whitehill manager, observed, "There is obviously the fear that Celtic will run riot and score double figures. People say losing 5-0 would be a good result for the East of Scotland League." He had yet to see the score from Keith.

A genuine giantkilling was etched in the snow at Inverness where 2,320 hardy souls saw Caledonian Thistle, second in the Third division, take the lead against East Fife, second in the Second, through Ian Stewart's 20th goal of the season. But Arnold Dwarika snatched a late equaliser. Second division Forfar got through 3-0 against Third division Ross County, a trip to Dumbarton or Airdrie the reward.

Back in England, snow ploughs and volunteers spent yesterday clearing drifts six inches deep off the Bramall Lane pitch, which is heated, and seats, which are not, so that this afternoon's televised FA Cup tie between Sheffield United and fancied Aston Villa can go ahead.

Villa, who last won the FA Cup in 1957, are unchanged from last week's win over Spurs, with Tommy Johnson playing behind strikers Dwight Yorke and Savo Milosevic.

One match which could have gone ahead was Leyton Orient's home Third division match against Scarborough. Referee Tony Leake travelled down from Darwen and passed the Brisbane Road pitch playable at 8.30am. With neighbouring West Ham's Cup tie off, the O's anticipated a big gate. But Boro were snowed in. Orient were not best pleased.

"This has cost the club a lot of money," their chairman Barry Hearn said. "We've done a bomb on the catering and that's just the start - we will be speaking with the Football League about this first thing Monday morning."

Boro's assistant manager Phil Chambers said that their coach driver "could not even get out of the car park. The police told us not to travel unless it was an emergency and they do not regard a football match as an emergency." Sacrilege, surely?