Football / FA Cup: Hoddle inspires Chelsea's advance: Turner's Wolves suffer an attack of FA Cup blues as Peacock parades his striking talent

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Chelsea. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Wolverhampton Wanderers. . . . . . . . . . .0

FOR 70 minutes yesterday Glenn Hoddle became a player as well as a manager again and much more besides, inspiring and guiding Chelsea one step nearer the FA Cup final that would be an impressive finish to his difficult first season at Stamford Bridge.

It was Gavin Peacock, with his second goal in succession to win a big-game fixture, who divided the teams, but Hoddle made the difference. He had a significant part in the move that led to Peacock's 58th-minute volley and increasingly thereafter, as his team played their way through the worst of Wolves' late snarl.

So, to the unconfined joy of their supporters, who came on to the pitch in their hundreds at the end to mob every blue shirt, Chelsea have an FA Cup semi- final to anticipate for the first time since 1970, the year they last won the trophy. They will face the winners of tonight's last quarter-final, West Ham or Luton, in what is now the First Division's last stand in a competition they had splashed with colour and excitement with every new giant-killing feat.

Over the weekend the old order has all but been restored. Seldom did the Wanderers, a once great club and now promising to rise again, threaten to undermine the Premiership a second time, after their fifth- round victory at Ipswich. Their football was neat and inventive but they needed a rampaging force, a fit Steve Bull, to unsettle Chelsea's rearguard.

An ankle injury kept Mark Stein out but John Spencer was pronounced fit so that the home side had one half of their recently prolific attack. At least they did for 20 minutes, before Spencer caused a recurrence of his sciatica problem in twisting on to a half-chance that Mike Stowell did well to smother.

In Neil Shipperley, Chelsea had a ready-made replacement on the bench, but Hoddle knew just what was required. 'This club has not done anything for a long, long time and there was a lot of euphoria and expectation out there that was getting to the team,' he said later. 'We were not functioning right and I felt we needed some experience.'

Hoddle, assuming a midfield role in his first appearance since 6 November following an ankle injury, immediately began to make sense of a game which a swirling wind was doing its best to ruin. His arrival enabled Peacock to move forward and support the willing David Hopkin, normally a midfield player, and gradually Chelsea began to assume command.

Soon after the break Hoddle narrowly cleared the crossbar. He was always there to accept a pass and around him the rest of his team began to enjoy themselves. They were hot and they needed to strike. They did, finally, when Hoddle played a forward ball to Dennis Wise, who found Craig Burley out on the right. His cross was delivered to Peacock who, half turning, retained balance and poise to stab his shot into the net, just as he had done against Manchester United the week before.

Wolves did not succumb easily and their on-loan striker, Guy Whittingham, could have done better from a right-wing cross. Chris Marsden, his provider, also shot wide.

Yet Graham Turner, the Wolves manager, feared the worst. 'I said at the time that Glenn's substitution was the worst thing that could have happened to us. He has a presence on the field which gave his players a lift.'

Now, having proved his fitness and re-emphasised his value to Chelsea on the pitch, Hoddle is looking forward to helping them climb further away from the relegation reaches. 'The team has been proving in recent games that they did not need me out there. It is nice to hear what Graham has said. Maybe I can give other managers something to think about as a substitute.'

Chelsea (4-4-2): Kharin; Clarke, Kjeldbjerg, Johnsen, Sinclair; Burley, Newton, Peacock, Wise; Hopkin, Spencer (Hoddle, 20). Substitutes not used: Shipperley, Hitchcock (gk).

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-5-2): Stowell; Blades, Shirtliff, Venus; Rankin, Marsden, Ferguson (Cook, 70), Kean, Thompson; Whittingham, Kelly. Substitutes not used: Mountfield, Jones (gk).

Referee: G Poll (Berkshire).

Alan Sugar, the Tottenham Hotspur chairman, said last night that Spurs have bid pounds 4m for Chris Sutton, the Norwich striker, and have yet to receive a written rejection of the bid.

----------------------------------------------------------------- FA CUP SEMI-FINAL DRAW ----------------------------------------------------------------- Oldham Athletic v Manchester United Chelsea v Luton or West Ham United ----------------------------------------------------------------- (Ties to be played on Sunday 10 April) -----------------------------------------------------------------

More football, pages 30, 31

Comments