Tranmere give O'Leary one less problem

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John Aldridge, the Tranmere Rovers manager, is convinced he has done a favour to David O'Leary by eliminating Leeds United from the Worthington Cup.

John Aldridge, the Tranmere Rovers manager, is convinced he has done a favour to David O'Leary by eliminating Leeds United from the Worthington Cup.

Rovers staged a stirring comeback at Prenton Park on Tuesday to book their place in the fourth round, winning 3-2 after extra-time.

Two first-half goals from the striker Darren Huckerby appeared to have set up Leeds for a date with the holders Leicester City or Crystal Palace, only for Rovers to lay siege to the United goal after the half-time break. Andy Parkinson and Steve Yates set up extra-time after a second-half performance by Leeds which was described by O'Leary as "disgraceful".

Then, with just 25 seconds of extra time remaining and with penalties looming, Parkinson scored the winner.

Leeds head to San Siro next Wednesday to face Milan in desperate need of the point which would send them through to the second stage of the Champions' League. Prior to that is a Premiership match at home to Liverpool.

Aldridge reckons United's exit could prove to be an advantage for his long-time former Republic of Ireland team-mate. "Everyone expected Leeds to turn up and win and quite rightly so," Aldridge said. "They are a fantastic outfit and David is doing a great job. I have known him for a long time.

"We have had some great times together over the years, although last night was obviously a great high for me and a low for him.

"But I reckon we might just have done him the biggest favour of his life. I just hope that this setback for them acts as a spur and they go on and do well in the Champions' League and the Premiership."

Birmingham City heaped more misery on the Tottenham Hotspur manager, George Graham, as the First Division side defeated the 1999 winners by 3-1 at White Hart Lane. Dele Adebola scored twice inside the opening 30 minutes and the on-loan Celtic striker Mark Burchill continued his fine form with another goal a minute before the break. Dejected Spurs fans crowded the gates at the ground and had to be held back by police and an army of stewards for more than an hour.

Darren Anderton pulled one back with a penalty on the hour, but Spurs had too much to do and Trevor Francis's side now face either Newcastle United or Bradford City.

The pressure continued to mount for the Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, as his side lost 1-0 to First Division Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. Curtis Fleming was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area and with just five minutes left John Hartson netted the winner.

There were nine changes to the Manchester United side which lined up against Watford at Vicarage Road from the one which beat Southampton on Saturday, but Alex Fergson's new-look team still managed a 3-0 victory. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put the Premiership champions ahead on 12 minutes and Dwight Yorke celebrated a rare start this season with a goal on 52 minutes. Another from Solskjaer nine minutes from time ended the hopes of the First Division leaders.

West Ham booked their fourth-round encounter with the winners of last night's Sheffield derby after a 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Upton Park. The Croatian striker Davor Suker broke the deadlock just after the hour and Paolo Di Canio made sure of the result six minutes from time, netting the rebound from his own retaken spot-kick.

Sunderland were pushed all the way by plucky Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Ground, with Don Hutchison scoring the winner two minutes from time in a 2-1 win.

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