Football / FA Cup: Allison finds return ticket for lively City: Touch of Rush not enough for lax Liverpool

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THE FA Cup, which has been responsible for realising Graeme Souness's dreams and worst nightmare since his return to Anfield, continued to serve up a mixture of emotions for the Liverpool manager at Ashton Gate last night.

Relief would have been the overriding one. In a third-round tie which had to be re-staged after Bristol's floodlights expired in the first game 10 days ago (when the score was also 1-1), it was the turn of Liverpool very nearly to have their light extinguished. That the FA Cup-winners of two seasons ago live to fight again next Tuesday or Wednesday at Anfield is due almost exclusively to the inept finishing of their opponents, who passed up on three golden opportunities shortly before half-time.

On the positive side, thanks are also due to Bruce Grobbelaar, who plucked a save from out of his rich repertoire to thwart Rob Edwards' diving header and to Ian Rush, whose predatory skills put Liverpool's noses undeservingly in front in the 61st minute. Wayne Allison saw that justice was done with an equaliser 10 minutes later.

There was little hint of the dangers that were to be posed by City during the first half-hour when the Merseysiders exuded the confidence which comes from nine games unbeaten - if you discount the defeat to Wimbledon in the Coca-Cola Cup by the artificial means of penalties.

Even then, though, there were signs of discomfort in the Liverpool defence, as, not for the first time this season, they looked vulnerable to pace. The need for the added security of a sweeper was to become patently obvious as Liverpool repeatedly got caught horribly square before the half was over.

Three excellent chances in the space of nine minutes came and went for Bristol, two of them scorned by the speedy Junior Bent, whose finishing was as crooked as his name suggests. Admittedly the angle was against him each time, on the first occasion following a 50- yard run, but one could not help feeling he allowed Grobelaar to intimidate him.

At least he was still confronted by the last line of defence, unlike Liam Robinson who contrived to miss an open goal after neatly sidestepping the Liverpool goalkeeper on the edge of the penalty area.

It was inevitable that they would be eventually caught on the counter- attack, Rush bagging the 40th FA Cup goal that was denied him when the first game had to be abandoned: he prodded home Neil Ruddock's far-post header from Julian Dicks's free-kick. He is now just one short of Denis Law's 20th century record.

It was inevitable, too, that when City eventually equalised it was not without some difficulty, two players completely missing Bent's cross before Allison converted at the far post.

Bristol City (4-4-2): Welch; Llewellyn, Shail, Munro, Scott; Bent, Martin, Tinnion, Edwards; Robinson, Allison. Substitutes not used: Pennyfather, Rosenior, Leaning (gk).

Liverpool (4-4-2): Grobbelaar; Jones, Nicol, Ruddock, Dicks; McManaman, Clough, Redknapp, Barnes; Rush, Fowler (Bjornebye, 68). Substitutes not used: Hutchison, James (gk).

Referee: M Bodenham (Looe, Cornwall).