Football / Coca-Cola Cup: Rowett sinks leaky Oldham

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The Independent Online
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IF CUP upsets can cost managers their jobs then Gary Johnson, the Cambridge United caretaker, will be hoping they can also work in reverse. A result which gives the First Division side a place in the quarter-finals of the League Cup competition for the first time could reward him with the post on a permanent basis.

Reg Smart, the chairman, and his board of directors hope to make a decision later today when inevitably the memory of this rousing victory, thoroughly merited and surprising only that it was not more emphatic at the end, will count forcibly for Johnson.

There is strong opposition for the position that became vacant last month with the termination of John Beck's colourful if controversial reign. Ian Atkins, the assistant to Birmingham manager Terry Cooper, is believed to be a front-runner, with Ayr's George Burley, the former Ipswich defender, also pressing his claims.

In the midst of the uncertainty and speculation Johnson has gone about his duties quietly but with thorough professionalism. 'It's a terrific result for this club and hopefully for me as well, although I would hate to get the job because of one result,' Johnson said, after Gary Rowett had seen off their Premier League opponents with a header in injury time at the end of the first half.

'I've just said to the team that, if I don't see them again, all the best for the next round, but I feel I have done a lot for Cambridge in this competition and even if I'm not to be the manager I would love to be there for the quarter-finals.

In successive seasons Cambridge, first as a Fourth Division side and then as a Third, reached the quarter-final stage of the FA Cup under Beck. Never before in the League Cup, however, had they passed the fourth round, and if he does nothing else Johnson can at least claim to have written a new chapter in their brief but eventful 22-year League history.

His team seized hold of this Coca-Cola tie from the start and frequently threatened to exploit Oldham's renowned defensive weaknesses. The warning signs were clear long before they scored, Chris Leadbitter wasting a clear run on goal and then sending his header from Paul Raynor's cross too high.

Raynor's next delivery met with an improved response, as Rowett stole in to apply a neat deflection that sent the ball out of John Keeley's reach. The goalkeeper kept his team within reach with two excellent second-half saves, denying Leadbitter and Mick Heathcote.

At 1-0 Oldham could still live in hope, but in a last-gasp effort substitute Roger Palmer shot wide at the far post, and Ian Olney put a boot to a flick-on which John Vaughan somehow scrambled away by his post.

Cambridge United: Vaughan; Fensome, Kimble, Raynor, Heathcote, O'Shea, Francis, Rowett (Cheetham, 84), White, Clayton, Leadbitter. Substitute not used: Fowler.

Oldham Athletic: Keeley; Halle, Pointon, Henry, Jobson, Redmond, Adams, Olney, Sharp, Milligan, Brennan (Palmer, 64). Substitute not used: Fleming.

Referee: R Wiseman (Hertfordshire).