Danns gives Colchester the edge to blunt Blades

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The Independent Online

Colchester United, fourth in League One and on a run of 12 wins in their last 14 games, continued that fine form to beat Sheffield United, second in the Championship, 2-1 at Bramall Lane and set up the tantalising prospect of a tie against a Premiership side. There seemed no risk of an upset when the Blades, with half their first-choice side rested, took a fifth-minute lead through Steve Kabba. But just after the half-hour, Neil Danns swept in Colchester's equaliser.

With 18 minutes left, Mark Yeates whipped in a cross and substitute Gareth Williams glanced the ball in. "I thought we deserved it," Colchester manager Phil Parkinson said. "I felt if we raised our game a bit we'd get back in it, we have players who could cause them problems. We didn't play like underdogs."

Leeds United, of the Championship, earned a replay against opposition from a higher level when Rob Hulse scored a late equaliser to hold Premiership Wigan Athletic to a 1-1 draw at the JJB Stadium. The Latics went ahead two minutes into the second half through David Connolly, but Wigan, having used all three substitutes, were down to 10 men when Ryan Taylor hobbled off. Leeds took advantage, Hulse firing in his 10th goal of the season. "I remember coming here last year and leaving thoroughly disappointed because we were given a real lesson," Kevin Blackwell, the Leeds manager, said, "but we have come a lot further down the road."

Norwich City, of the Championship, beaten more comfortably by Premiership West Ham than the 2-1 scoreline suggests, were without Darren Huckerby, suspended, and Dean Ashton, sparking speculation about the striker's future. "He has got a groin strain," his manager, Nigel Worthington, said, "and for those who think I am telling porky-pies, I have got a scan which proves he has damaged his groin. Dean is on a long-term contract, and unless there is a crazy offer which comes in, he is staying at this football club." On the pitch, Hayden Mullins and Bobby Zamora scored to put the London side in charge, before Paul McVeigh pulled one back from a penalty. Robert Green, the Norwich goalkeeper, was carried off after a collision with Marlon Harewood.

A third Premiership-Championship face-off was all too easy for Blackburn Rovers who beat Queen's Park Rangers 3-0, Craig Bellamy scoring twice.

In meetings between Championship and League teams, Crystal Palace disposed of League Two side Northampton Town 4-1 at Selhurst Park, and George Burley, after three defeats in his first four matches as manager of Southampton, found relief when his men overcame Milton Keynes Dons 4-3 at St Mary's Stadium. After the match he said that his goalkeeper, Antii Niemi, was signing for Fulham for just over £1 million.

Stockport County, four points adrift at the bottom of League Two with the Conference beckoning, lost 3-2 to visiting League One promotion contenders Brentford.

Games between sides from the same division went with League form. Coventry won 1-0 at Brighton, Wolves beat Plymouth Argyle by the same score at Molineux, Derby County beat Burnley 2-1 at Pride Park and Crewe, bottom of the Championship, lost 2-1 at Preston. League One Barnsley and Walsall drew 1-1 at Oakwell; in the all-League Two tie Cheltenham Town and Chester City drew 2-2.

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