Football / FA Cup Fourth Round: Chelsea checked

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Chelsea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Peacock 14

Sheffield Wednesday. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Hyde 63

Attendance: 26,094

THE SIGH of relief at Stamford Bridge when the final whistle went was almost tangible. Chelsea may have extended their unbeaten run to eight games but were fortunate to earn a replay against last season's defeated Cup finalists.

Despite taking a first-half lead, Chelsea were always inferior in almost every department. The omen that this might be one of those days came in the fifth minute for Chelsea when Dimitri Kharin had to back-pedal frantically to head Andy Myers' hurried back-pass off his goal-line.

That near fiasco was forgotten in the 14th minute when Steve Clarke surged deep into Wednesday territory, unhindered and unchallenged, to release Gavin Peacock with a beautifully timed ball. It was a simple task to stab his shot under Kevin Pressman's dive.

The visitors' tendency to wobble when attackers ran at them almost brought Chelsea a second on the half-hour when Mark Stein set up Neil Shipperley. The young striker's shot whistled inches beyond the post.

Wednesday were making hard work of getting within shooting distance of Kharin. Apart from that early trauma the keeper was never really threatened until seconds before half-time. Gordon Watson pounced on a loose ball in a Chelsea penalty-box melee to hammer a right-foot volley which the Russian goalkeeper tipped around the post.

The visiting manager, Trevor Francis, is not noted for half- time tantrums. Whatever, Wednesday went at Chelsea after the interval with an urgency that had been absent. Carlton Palmer had a shot blocked and Nigel Jemson screwed the rebound wide. But the reward was imminent.

David Hirst had been called off the bench to replace Ryan Jones in the 60th minute - his first game since September - and three minutes later Roland Nilsson delivered a bobbling cross into the danger zone for Graham Hyde to bundle the equaliser past Kharin.

Chelsea were now playing a rather poor second fiddle despite prodigious efforts in all areas of the field by Frank Sinclair. Kharin had to plunge at Hirst's feet six minutes from time when another Nilsson cross reached the striker on the far post.

The manager Glenn Hoddle attempted to bring the colour back to Chelsea's cheeks by replacing the promising Shipperley with the young Scot John Spencer a couple of minutes after Hyde's equaliser. But it was of no avail and Chelsea must view the prospect of the replay at Hillsborough on 9 February, even with the probable return of the captain Dennis Wise, with some trepidation.

(Photograph omitted)

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