Football: Stewart's strike is a blow for Smith

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The Independent Online
Huddersfield 2

Beech 42, Stewart 71

Derby County 2

Burton 55, Dorigo 59

Half-time: 1-0 Attendance:22,129

AS A budding bruiserweight, young Jim Smith was the Sheffield Schools' boxing champion. As a managerial heavyweight of 30 years' experience, the 58-year-old veteran has suffered more knockout blows in the FA Cup than he would care to count. Only twice before has he made it beyond round five: in 1992, when Portsmouth lost to Liver-pool on penalties in a semi- final replay at Villa Park, and in 1997, when Derby were undone in the quarter-finals by the brilliant Juninho in the last tie ever played at the Baseball Ground.

The Bald Eagle still has a fighting chance of making it this year, though, after the dust settled with both contenders still standing at the McAlpine Stadium yesterday. Smith's team picked themselves off the floor after falling behind to a Chris Beech goal in the 41st minute. They were 2-1 ahead by the hour and, with Francesco Baiano at his scheming best, looked set to secure a place in the last eight in emphatic style. But when Horacio Carbonari failed to clear a 71st minute corner, Huddersfield took their chance to hit back, Marcus Stewart heading his 20th goal of the season.

The real saviour for the West Yorkshire Terriers, though, was Nico Vaesen, the Belgian goalkeeper keeping the most vital of his top- drawer saves for the fourth and final minute of injury-time. Lee Carlsey's piledriver was pushed wide and the vast majority of the 22,179 crowd, a record for Huddersfield's four-year-old home, breathed a mighty grateful sigh of relief.

Beaten just once at the McAlpine in the First Division this season, Huddersfield, under Peter Jackson and Terry Yorath, have been transforming their splendidly- appointed ground into the kind of fortress Leeds Road was in the days of Herbert Chapman. They have also been threatening to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time since Frank Worthington completed a 4-2 fifth-round win against West Ham at Leeds Road in 1972. Their chances of making it were not enhanced by the late withdrawal of Wayne Allison because of a family bereavement, but for half-an-hour they forced the pace, with David Phillips prompting from midfield and Ben Thornley looking like an Old Trafford graduate in his link-man role at the shoulder of Stewart.

Derby struggled to make an impression and only started imposing themselves after Baiano unleashed a dipping 25-yard drive in the 33rd minute. Vaesen tipped over the Italian's effort but Derby proceeded to build up a promising head of attacking steam before Beech caught them out on the counter-attack.

The midfielder controlled Gavin Johnson's long ball, elu-ded Carbonari, and left Russell Hoult stranded with a chipped shot judged to perfection. The celebrations matched the ticker-tape entrance of the teams at kick-off time but Huddersfield were indebted to their goalkeeper for reaching half-time with their lead intact, Vaesen denying first Dean Sturridge and then Deon Burton with point-blank saves.

The brilliant Baiano was turning the tide in Derby's favour, though, and it was the ubiquitous Italian who orchestrated the right-wing move which yielded the equaliser, Stefanio Eranio crossing for Burton to head past Vaesen. Four minutes later Derby were in front, Gary Willard punishing Jon Dyson for a push on Sturridge and Tony Dorigo scoring from the penalty spot. The awarding of the penalty had Jackson protesting on the touchline but his players exacted their revenge 12 minutes later. In attempting to clear Thornley's corner from the left, Carbonari merely succeeded in diverting it to the back post, where Stewart's header restored parity.

Huddersfield's replay date was far from secure, though. Derby kept on the offensive to the final whistle, forcing Vaesen to work overtime. He thwarted Stefano Eranio with one blinding save and then, with Gary Willard waiting to blow the final whistle, left Carsley holding his bald head in his hands.

He also left the Bald Eagle suffering from mild parrot- sickness. "We should have got through," Smith said. "But we didn't make it easy for ourselves. Neither did their keeper. He had a great game."

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