West Ham were left grateful to Dean Ashton's continued resurgence for finally breaking down Plymouth's obdurate resistance at Upton Park last night. It took until a minute into added time for Ashton to seize on a Kyel Reid cross and volley home his third goal in three games.
With England manager Steve McClaren casting around for fit strikers, Ashton's run of form is perfectly timed, although his club manager was concerned only with the 23-year-old's domestic impact as he continues his increasingly impressive return from a broken ankle that kept him out for the whole of last season.
"I'm not thinking about England at the moment, I'm just happy he's playing for West Ham again," said a relived Alan Curbishley. "It was a tough game for everyone out there, but he came through it."
There was more effusive praise from Ian Holloway, Plymouth's manager. "I'm an England supporter and it's great to see him fit again," he said. "We all know what a long, hard road it is to get fit after something like that so it's great to see your good players fit and scoring. We want our good players playing well – although I could have knocked him out when he did that."
James McFadden's two second-half goals steered Everton through against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. The Scotland striker seized on Yakubu's flick from Phil Neville's cross just short of the hour mark, headed in another Neville cross for the second and then set up a third for Yakubu.
It took a dominant Blackburn until David Bentley's 65th-minute strike to open the scoring in against Birmingham. Matt Derbyshire and Roque Santa Cruz wrapped-up the win, but of greater concern to Birmingham manager Steve Bruce was an injury to goalkeeper Richard Kingson, who was taken to hospital after colliding with Chris Samba and a post.
Goals from Danny Guthrie and David Healy, a second-half substitute, took Bolton and Fulham into extra-time at Craven Cottage before another substitute, Bolton's Stelios Giannakopoulus, settled the tie. in the visitors' favour.Reuse content