Graydon grumbles as Walsall miss out

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The Independent Football

West Ham survived a scare at Upton Park when Jorge Leitao's equaliser gave in-form Walsall a 1-1 draw at Upton Park. Steve Lomas had handed the Hammers a second-minute lead, but Leitao's goal forced the home side to hang on to a narrow 2-1 aggregate lead.

West Ham survived a scare at Upton Park when Jorge Leitao's equaliser gave in-form Walsall a 1-1 draw at Upton Park. Steve Lomas had handed the Hammers a second-minute lead, but Leitao's goal forced the home side to hang on to a narrow 2-1 aggregate lead.

Ray Graydon, manager of the Second Division leaders, was rightly proud of his players - but he still gave them a roasting for failing to convert more of the numerous chances they created. Graydon said: "I am proud of them and they worked very hard tonight. But there were some disappointments and I have let the players know about them. Sometimes you have to make the most of it when opportunity knocks, and it knocked for us tonight.

"I am not criticising their effort, work-rate or their football, but the number of chances we created tells me we should have taken one or two of them."

Preston's 16-year-old goalkeeper Andy Lonergan endured a nightmare debut as John Aloisi, Coventry's Australian striker who has been out of action for a year through injury, returned to score his first hat-trick for Gordon Strachan's side in a 4-1 win.

John Eustace added the other at Highfield Road as the Sky Blues waltzed to a 7-2 aggregate win, with Mark Rankine's second-half goal merely a consolation for the visitors. "It was very, very sweet," Aloisi said. "It was just good to play after a year out and get three goals in my first senior outing."

Beleaguered Sheffield Wednesday, playing in front of less than 5,000 fans, boosted their confidence with a 5-1 win over Oldham at Hillsborough to give them an 8-2 aggregate triumph while Chesterfield, 1-0 up from the first leg, were punished 4-0 by high-flying First Division Fulham to bow out of the competition.

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