Football / FA Cup round-up: Match halted after wall collapses

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The Independent Online
THE FIRST round proper of the FA Cup was marred yesterday by an incident at Runcorn's Canal Street stadium that nearly resulted in tragedy. The visiting Hull City fans were celebrating a 29th-minute goal by Graeme Atkinson when the perimeter wall around them collapsed, injuring nine people and causing the match to be abandoned. Runcorn players saw the trouble and ran to help the injured; Kevin Lynch, the referee, was forced to stop the game and 18 minutes later it was announced that it would not be restarted. None of the nine was seriously hurt, though four were taken to hospital. The match will be replayed on Tuesday night at Witton Albion.

There was no shortage of incident elsewhere, although thankfully the upsets were restricted to the pitch. Bromsgrove Rovers, Sutton United and Macclesfield Town feasted on giants slain, Northampton Town, Colchester United and Hartlepool United providing their League fodder.

Sutton, no strangers to fairytale Cup Saturdays, were the most dramatic of the three winners: 2-0 up after half an hour, Colchester pegged them back to 2-2, Sutton went ahead and were levelled again in the final five minutes. With two minutes remaining, Ollie Morah provided Sutton's winner in a 4-3 triumph. Morah, who has had spells with Spurs and Swindon, hopes the victory will secure his football future; 'I'm hoping now to get back into League football,' he said.

Bromsgrove's 2-0 lead over Northampton allowed them the luxury of being able to concede a last-minute goal. 'In truth we could have won two or three nil,' Bobby Hope, the manager who was a 1968 Cup winner with West Bromwich Albion, said.

Other non-League sides began eagerly, only to stumble and fall. Farnborough Town were 1-0 up against Exeter City and, with 15 minutes to go, had Alan Ball, the Exeter manager, staring at humiliating defeat. 'For the first hour our performance was awful,' he said. But three Exeter goals rattled in inside seven minutes restored Ball's good humour.

A similarly speedy start saw Gretna take the lead over Bolton Wanderers. Gretna were 2-1 up with 15 minutes to play, but two goals from Owen Coyle took Bolton through. Gravesend and Northfleet, from the Beazer Homes League, were also defeated after taking the lead against Leyton Orient. There was some recompense for the players - pounds 8,000 to be precise, thanks to some heavy wagering on Steve Portway at 10-1 to score the opening goal.

Nothing is easy for Barnet these days, even against Diadora League opposition. Carshalton, visiting Underhill Stadium, had Gary Phillips, Barnet's goalkeeper-manager, in desperate action before Darren Annon put one past him in the 15th minute. Barnet, inspired by Brian Marwood, the former Arsenal man, fought back with two second-half goals.

Among the casualties were the Metropolitan Police, whose progress was arrested by two goals from Crawley Town. Of the three sides making their first round debuts, only Yeading survive after a scoreless draw with Gillingham; Knowsley went down 4-1 to Carlisle and Molesey went down 0-4 to Bath City.

One man who didn't get a taste of Cup fever was John Burridge. The 41-year-old goalkeeper was signed by Steve Wicks, Scarborough's new manager, two weeks ago and was sacked just minutes before yesterday's game, missing the 1- 0 victory over Bury. 'He made some condescending remarks about the club and the players,' Wicks said. 'He has kicked the club in the teeth.'