Football / Coca-Cola Cup: Kiwomya cast as the equaliser

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Aston Villa. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Ipswich Town. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

TWO equalisers by Chris Kiwomya, who was celebrating his 23rd birthday, maintained Ipswich's interest in the Coca-Cola Cup as a drab fourth-round tie came belatedly to life at Villa Park last night.

Aston Villa appeared to have secured a place in the last eight of the competition they won 31 years ago in its inaugural season, when Dean Saunders and Dalian Atkinson created goals for each other in the final third of the match.

Sandwiched in between was Kiwomya's first goal, and six minutes from time the Yorkshire- born striker seized upon a goalkeeping blunder by Nigel Spink to collect his ninth of the season. The replay, which was no less than Ipswich deserved, will be on 15 December.

Five days earlier, Norwich had left Birmingham with three points to cement their place at the top of the Premier League. Ipswich, who with only two defeats can claim to be the most obdurate side in the country, emulated their East Anglian rivals by using John Wark as sweeper, though theirs was far from a negative performance.

Villa, who dropped poor Ugo Ehiogu after his error-strewn display on Saturday, recalled Dariusz Kubicki at right-back and switched Earl Barrett to centre- half. Unfortunately this did not have the effect of eliminating the defensive gaffes, and Spink was only the last in a lengthy line of culprits.

An undistinguished first half began deceptively brightly. Ray Houghton had a chance after just two minutes, miskicking a Saunders cross in front of goal, while Spink twice had to hurry off his line as Kiwomya and then Gavin Johnson breached his back line.

Ipswich marked Villa's vaunted strike force diligently until they tired late on, and their better efforts before the break came from midfield. Steve Staunton forced Clive Baker to tip one long-range drive to safety, before sending a free-kick swerving inches over the bar.

Nevertheless, Ron Atkinson's concern was transparent; he traded his pitch in the directors' box for a place in the dug-out fully 20 minutes before his customary second-half switch. For a time matters merely became worse, both teams matching each other for misplaced passes and poor touches.

The character of the game changed beyond recognition in the 63rd minute. Saunders received a throw-in from Kubicki and crossed high to the far post, where Atkinson eluded David Linighan to head his 11th goal of the season against his former club.

Within nine minutes, Ipswich were level. Mick Stockwell drove at the heart of a retreating defence before slipping the ball inside to Kiwomya, who swept it home from six yards.

Twelve minutes from time, Atkinson returned the compliment for Saunders, feeding him the ball in the inside-left channel. The Welshman scored with aplomb from an awkward angle, his ninth in 14 matches for Villa, but Kiwomya was soon to show even greater composure.

When Stockwell chased a through-pass by Phil Whelan, Spink left his area to make a routine clearance. He succeeded only in kicking against the Ipswich midfielder, and the ball fell invitingly for Kiwomya. From 25 yards he steered it deftly past Bryan Small into the unguarded net to set up what promises to be an equally close struggle at Portman Road.

Aston Villa: Spink; Barrett, Staunton, Kubicki, McGrath, Richardson, Houghton (Regis, 84), Parker (Cox, 77), Saunders, Atkinson, Small.

Ipswich Town: Baker; Whelan, Thompson, Stockwell, Wark, Linighan, Johnson, Goddard (Youds, 82), Whitton, Dozzell, Kiwomya. Sub not used: Bozinoski.

Referee: J Martin (Alton, Hants).

----------------------------------------------------------------- QUARTER-FINAL DRAW ----------------------------------------------------------------- Scarborough or Arsenal v Nottingham Forest Liverpool or Crystal Palace v Everton or Chelsea Blackburn or Watford v Cambridge United Aston Villa or Ipswich v Sheffield Wednesday ----------------------------------------------------------------- Ties to be played week commencing 4 January -----------------------------------------------------------------

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