Football: Barnsley see chance for revenge against weakened United

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The Independent Online
ALL BETS will be off if England or Scotland win the World Cup this summer but the nation has probably already seen its favourite sporting moment of 1998. Britons love witnessing the mighty stumbling and few have hit terra firma as hard as Peter Schmeichel 10 days ago.

His hash of a simple clearance against Barnsley at Old Trafford launched a million sniggers and the repercussions have spread beyond the Danish goalkeeper's embarrassment. It takes something exceptional for Manchester United to arrive at Oakwell for tonight's FA Cup fifth-round replay as underdogs yet rational examination of the teams will make them so.

The champions will be without eight players tonight as they attempt to reach a sixth-round tie at Newcastle and even the best squad in the Premiership creaks under such circumstances. "We've a bit of reorganising to do," their manager, Alex Ferguson, said. "I hope we come up with the right answer."

No result seemed to underline Barnsley's inadequacies more than the 7-0 thrashing at Old Trafford in the League in October; now a chance of revenge has come along. So what if it is a side of reserves, they are wearing United shirts aren't they?

"We are under no illusions about the size of our task, even though they'll have a weakened side and we now have home advantage," said John Hendrie, who scored Barnsley's goal in the first match because of Schmeichel's miskick made for videos.

Talking about that goal he added: "When Schmeichel miscued I thought `What's on here?'. I saw a new chapter looming in my autobiography, and my little legs went like the clappers to knock the ball in."

Barnsley's manager, Danny Wilson, would forgo temporary satisfaction tonight if he could swap it for the lingering experience of Premiership survival. It is a feeling shared by second-from-bottom Crystal Palace, who will have a home tie against either Blackburn or West Ham if they can defeat Arsenal - both those games are also tonight.

Wolves will play Steve Bull at home against Wimbledon in tonight's other replay. The striker's first game since November will test his recovery from a knee operation, but he could make all the difference. Wolves have suffered four 1-0 defeats in their last six League games.