Football: Hello Huckerby, goodbye Liverpool

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The Independent Online
The violent storms which forced the postponement of five third- round FA Cup ties were as nothing compared to the tempest named Darren Huckerby who inspired Coventry City to sweep aside fellow Premier opponents Liverpool 3-1 at the formerly impregnable fortress of Anfield.

The Merseysiders had taken the lead in the seventh minute through a Jamie Redknapp free-kick. But then Huckerby, who had sparked last Sunday's win over Manchester United, got to work on the fissures in Liverpool's defence until they cracked wide open. The winger himself, Dion Dublin and Paul Telfer all scored.

Three Premiership giants were forced into replays against lower division opposition. Portsmouth of the First set aside their manifold problems over ownership, debt and relegation to give Aston Villa (FA Cup final wins: seven) a Fratton Park fright under the gaze of Terry Venables. Two deflected goals by Craig Foster put Pompey in charge but disputed goals from Steve Staunton, four minutes from half-time, and Simon Grayson's equaliser two minutes from the end spared the blushes of Brian Little's men.

At Vicarage Road, Watford fell behind to Niclas Alexandersson's goal for Sheffield Wednesday in the 64th minute but that only stung the Hornets into an immediate response and the full-back Peter Kennedy surged forward to equalise with his 12th goal of the season. Arsenal were held to a goalless draw by Port Vale and won't relish the replay at Vale Park.

In the all-First Division tie at Pride Park, Derby County defeated Southampton 2-0 in spite of Matthew Le Tissier's heroic dash to the match - the storms had stranded him on the Channel Islands until 10am yesterday morning. It took a hotly disputed penalty, scored by Francesco Baiano after he had been felled by Carlton Palmer, to get the Rams moving.

Crystal Palace overcame their miserable home form to beat Third Division Scunthorpe United 2-0 at Selhurst Park, the Eagles scoring 10 seconds and three minutes from the end of each half courtesy of Neil Emblen. Manager Steve Coppell was not fooled. Palace, he said, were "as bad as the weather".

Second Division Grimsby Town, going well in fourth place, found the recipe to beat First Division Norwich City 3-0 at Blundell Park, a result which must have left a nasty taste in the mouth of the Canaries' main shareholder, Delia Smith. Their East Anglian First Division neighbours, Ipswich Town, got a scare at Second Division Bristol Rovers but Mick Stockwell's late equaliser meant another meeting at Portman Road after a 1-1 draw.

First Division Sunderland, unchanged for the eighth consecutive match - perhaps Spurs should consult their physio - were too strong for Third Division Rotherham at Millmoor, Kevin Phillips scoring four in the Wearsiders' 5-1 win. "They could have made it seven by the end," the Rotherham manager, Ronnie Moore, said.

In the all-First Division ties, fourth entertained second at The Valley when Nottingham Forest lost 4-1 to Charlton. "That was as poor a passing performance as we've given over 90 minutes this season," Dave Bassett, the disappointed Forest manager, said. "Conditions weren't conducive to good football, but that didn't bother us at Manchester City last week."

Perennially troubled Manchester City gave their loyal supporters hope for the future by beating Bradford City 2-1 at Maine Road. "I think we were fortunate to come in at half-time 2-0 up but we were due a bit of that," Frank Clark, the City manager, said. "I will have a half decent Sunday for a change."

There was a real thriller at Loftus Road where, with the England manager Glenn Hoddle watching, Queen's Park Rangers and the First Division leaders Middlesbrough drew 2-2. With 17 minutes left and Rangers trailing 2-1, their manager, Ray Harford, sent on fresh strikers Steve Slade and Kevin Gallen and within two minutes Gallen scored from Slade's headed pass.

Finally, Cardiff City kept the Third Division flag flying when Jason Fowler's 18th-minute goal was enough to beat Oldham Athletic, eighth in the Second Division, 1-0 at Ninian Park.

Cup reports, page 18

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