Football / Coca-Cola Cup: Seaman shines in shoot-out to deny Millwall: Winterburn hurt by coin thrower

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The Independent Online
Millwall. . .1

Arsenal . . .1

(aet; score at 90 min 1-1; 2-2 on agg. Arsenal win 3-1 on penalties)

IT SO nearly proved another cup upset for Arsenal but, after extra time and then penalties, the Gunners lived to fight on in the Coca-Cola Cup. David Seaman, too often the fall guy over the past year for the good of his confidence, was their saviour last night, making three saves in the shoot-out to give George Graham something to savour from his return to The Den.

Arsenal will claim the result was the least they deserved after they were again forced to endure a fierce examination of their temperament and tempers. Aggressive undertones were carried over from the first game - when Ian Wright was struck by a coin allegedly thrown by a Millwall fan - and unhappily only four minutes had elapsed here when there was a repeat.

Nigel Winterburn fell to the ground, also hit by a coin, and needed treatment. Even though he was able to resume it was some time before he could feel comfortable in his surroundings.

Superintendant David Checkley said that police had failed to arrest the coin-thrower who felled Winterburn, but that they had later arrested another man allegedly throwing coins.

He said: 'We made six arrests in all, including two people for making racist chants. Another was for drunkenness and one more was for a person attempting to supply drugs.'

In the circumstances Arsenal held their nerve commendably well, and even though John Jensen and Steve Bould were booked late on - taking the club's tally of cautions for the season to 24 - they could feel happy with their night's work in every respect.

The scoreline suggests the teams could not be separated, which was an accurate reflection on a rumbustious and passionate tie. Yet for all its intensity, there was some fine football on display, with Millwall's clever interchanging and accurate distribution from defensive positions suggesting that the good times may not be too far away for the south-east London club.

Having gone behind to Kevin Campbell's 17th-minute opener, the First Division side were back in it eight minutes later through an own-goal by Lee Dixon, and it was the England full-back who boobed first from the spot and encouraged Millwall's fans to believe that they would go through after all.

They had reckoned, however, without Seaman, who guessed right three times out of four to deny, in turn, Malcolm Allen, Don Goodman and Colin Cooper.

Inevitably, Ian Wright could not escape attention, taunted unmercifully throughout by the crowd. He was involved in a second-half clash with Keith Stevens, in which the Millwall skipper appeared to raise his elbow.

Both Wright - who had struck the bar two minutes after Arsenal took the lead - and Campbell had chances in the final half-hour to render any shoot-out unnecessary. Campbell, found superbly by Alan Smith, planted his shot against the bar. Then the big striker turned provider to set up Wright but, on a night he will want to forget in a hurry, he fired wildly into the packed terraces.

Campbell had already demonstrated his prowess in the 17th minute as all three of Graham's formidable forwards dovetailed to devastating effect. Smith and Wright combined before Campbell's acceleration took him clear of two defenders and his angled shot evaded Kasey Keller to find the corner of the net.

Millwall: Keller; Cunningham, Dawes, May (Rae, 83), Cooper, Stevens, Roberts, Dolby (Moralee, 76), Allen, Goodman, Barber.

Arsenal: Seaman; Dixon, Winterburn, Hillier, Bould, Adams, Jensen, Wright, Smith, Merson (Parlour, 83), Campbell. Substitute not used: Pates.

Referee: C Elleray (Harrow).

(Photograph omitted)