'They showed they can compete at this level'

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The Independent Football

The Yeovil manager, Gary Johnson, was a proud man despite yesterday's defeat of his Third Division side against the aristocrats of Liverpool.

"I wouldn't be unprofessional enough to say that a shock was on the cards but we created chances and our shape was very strong," he said.

"In the second half Liverpool came out and showed their Premiership quality in not giving the ball away. You can't give Liverpool that amount of ball. They have got clever players who are able to slide others in.

"But I'm very proud that this football club has been able to stage this event and I am proud of the boys. They showed for part of the game that they can compete at this level. We made Liverpool earn their victory.

"I'm also disappointed because every game of football we try to win, but Liverpool have a great attitude. Now we have to concentrate on the league."

The Liverpool manager, Gérard Houllier, had hoped to keep Emile Heskey in reserve, but with the match in the balance he brought on the extra muscle of his England striker in place of the 19-year-old French teenager Florent Sinama-Pongolle.

It worked a treat and Houllier praised Heskey. "He was fresh and he did a lot of running," Houllier said. "When his attitude is right he has the power to do well. We have got three games in seven days and have got two strikers still sidelined so we had to be careful."

Houllier was cagey on the proposed signing of Auxerre striker Djibril Cissé, who it is claimed could be joining the Anfield club for £14m. Some reports say he has already agreed to join Liverpool at the end of the season after undergoing a medical.

But Houllier said: "He has not signed any pre-contract. He wants to come but at this stage nothing is true about Cissé. It doesn't mean in the future it won't be true."

At Loftus Road, a less than convincing performance from Fulham saw the Premiership's fifth-placed team beat Cheltenham 2-1 after going behind. Their manager, Chris Coleman, unhappily declared that Cheltenham could consider themselves unfortunate.

He said: "The only positive that we can take from today is the result. It was a poor performance from us. I feel sorry for Cheltenham and their manager John Ward.

"We're better than we showed today. But we have to give Cheltenham some credit. They made it very difficult for us and were hungrier."