Manchester United 5 Burton Albion 0: Dream dies for Burton

Conference side find Cup trip to Old Trafford a bridge too far

The stubborn resistance of the Conference in this season's FA Cup is at an end, though Burton Albion may beg to differ having secured their financial future and made Manchester United perform the role of an awkward host to the very end of last night's third-round replay at Old Trafford.

Despite delivering the scoreline demanded by their manager Sir Alex Ferguson, United knew their place in the grand scheme of this contest and sprinted for the tunnel as soon as referee Howard Webb blew the final whistle. Their hasty exit was not an insult to Nigel Clough's team but a tribute, granting the non-league team the stage to accept a standing ovation from all four sides of Old Trafford and the acclaim their performance over 180 minutes against the 11-time winners had deserved.

Two goals from the impressive Giuseppe Rossi, plus strikes from Louis Saha, Kieran Richardson and Ryan Giggs secured United a fourth-round tie at Wolverhampton Wanderers but this was no humiliation for Albion or the 10,500 supporters who had travelled north for the finest night in the club's history. With 53,564 fans in total at Old Trafford, the Staffordshire club can expect to make £600,000 from this tie alone, perhaps £850,000 in total, but for those who spoke in reverential tones about their first visit to the Theatre of Dreams, who waved giant, yellow hands made of foam throughout and urged Burton's indomitable captain Darren Stride forward in the hope of a late consolation, this was not about money. Rather, as Ferguson had said beforehand, it was about making the FA Cup fashionable again.

"We have had a great day and I hope the experience will stand the players in good stead for the future," said Clough. "I am proud of everyone involved in the club tonight, the players and the supporters."

Exactly 20 years earlier, Clough had scored the winner for Nottingham Forest as his father's team triumphed at Old Trafford in the old First Division, but with Burton adhering to the family's football philosophy in an arena where so many have succumbed to intimidation before, he had greater cause for satisfaction last night. "Our players were challenged tonight," admitted Ferguson, a true assessment and the finest tribute to Burton of all.

The United manager added: "Burton were always going to get the credit for taking us to a replay in the first place, but we've had European teams and Premier League teams coming here and never showing anything like the ambition Burton showed. They come here with one up front, five packed across midfield and bore the pants off everyone, but at least Burton came and gave it a go."

Given their performance in the goalless first encounter, Burton may have deemed it an insult that Ferguson made only one change from the side that took to the field at the Pirelli Stadium, Darren Fletcher replacing Ritchie Jones in midfield, but the Scot had to consider the lesser of two gambles; to risk another mediocre FA Cup performance or destroying the confidence of young players by implying he did not trust them to defeat a Conference side ranked 104 places below. He opted for the self-preservation of those who represent the club's future, albeit with the insurance policy of a formidable subs' bench, and was rewarded for the show of faith by the performances of Rossi and Gerard Pique, plus the early breakthrough that stifled Albion's intent if not the noise from their raucous support.

The goal that eluded United for 90 minutes in Staffordshire took only seven minutes to arrive in Manchester as Saha continued his rehabilitation as an instinctive goalscorer although not, as two glaring misses when clean through on goal later illustrated, a truly reliable marksman. United's promising centre-half Pique instigated the breakthrough with a superb throughball to Richardson and when he delivered a low cross behind the Burton defence from the left, Saha had the freedom of the six-yard area to register his sixth goal in seven starts.

Despite the swift setback, the Conference club had made the more convincing start, with Jon Shaw forcing the first save of the game from Tim Howard and Chris Hall trying his luck from distance as they threatened to give their makeshift hosts the same problems they encountered 10 days earlier.

However, their remote prospects of completing an astonishing cup upset were extinguished completely in the 22nd minute when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose first appearance at Old Trafford since March 2004 drew the loudest applause of the night from the home faithful, helped create a second. The Norwegian's deep centre initially eluded his team-mates but Mikael Silvestre retrieved possession on the opposite flank and chipped a return back for Rossi to beat the Burton goalkeeper Saul Deeney with a fine centre-forward's header.

Rossi delivered a performance worthy of the suspended forward he had replaced in United's line-up, Wayne Rooney, and sent Richardson running through from the halfway line for the third seven minutes after the restart. The American-born, Italian citizen was then involved in a marvellous exchange with Giggs that resulted in a fourth from the Welsh substitute before earning a deserved second, albeit with the aid of a deflection, with an 18-yard drive in stoppage time. There was little time for the diminutive striker to celebrate, however, as the final whistle soon blew and Burton, rightfully, stepped back into the limelight.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Howard; Bardsley, Brown (Neville, 62), Pique, Silvestre; Solskjaer, Fletcher (Giggs, 62), O'Shea (Ferdinand, 62), Richardson; Saha, Rossi. Substitutes not used: Van Nistelrooy, Van der Sar (gk).

Burton Albion (4-4-2): Deeney; Sedgemore, Tinson, Austin, Corbett; Hall (Webster, 75), Stride, Ducros, Gilroy (Henshaw, 87); Shaw (Anderson, 26), Harrad. Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Todd. Referee: H Webb (South Yorkshire).

Revised FA Cup fourth round draw

Stoke City v Walsall

Cheltenham Town v Newcastle United

Coventry City v Middlesbrough

Reading v Birmingham City

Portsmouth v Liverpool

Leicester City v Southampton

Bolton Wanderers v Arsenal

Aston Villa v Port Vale

Brentford v Sunderland

Manchester City v Wigan Athletic

Everton v Chelsea

Preston North End v Crystal Palace

West Ham United v Blackburn Rovers

Colchester United v Derby County

Charlton Athletic v Leyton Orient

Wolves v Manchester United

Ties to be played 28-29 January

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor