Football: Rain washes out County's big night

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The Independent Online
The weather succeeded where cup foes Blackburn Rovers, Southampton and West Ham United all failed and got the upper hand over Stockport County last night.

The Second Division club's Coca-Cola Cup semi-final first leg against the Premiership big-spenders, Middlesbrough, was called off two hours before kick-off by the referee, David Elleray, who found large areas of standing water when he inspected the pitch at 6pm.

Elleray was in no doubt that he was right to pull the plug on the biggest night in County's history. "Players will be unable to control themselves in sliding tackles," he said. "There would therefore be a risk of injury."

The Stockport manager, Dave Jones, who hopes to get the game rearranged for next Tuesday, said: "We're disappointed, but there's no way it could have been played. It's the right decision. I feel sorry for everyone that's travelled but it's one of those things."

West Ham's Premiership game with Newcastle United was also called off after rainstorms hit London half-an-hour before the start. The club's electrical sub-stations were also flooded and, in the end, West Ham's safety officer took the decision to cancel the game with more than 20,000 spectators already in the stadium.

Across the capital, Queen's Park Rangers' First Division game against Reading was also rained off.

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