Holders crash out the FA Cup, United KO Reds, Chorley, Cheltenham, Crawley bravely bow out

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The Emirates FA Cup was back this weekend for the Fourth-Round Proper stage, with sixteen ties across five days, and it began on Friday night at Victory Park, home of Vanarama National North side Chorley, as they hosted Premier League Wolves looking to cause an almighty shock…

Friday January 22

Chorley 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

Chorley did have the first effort at goal in the first minute, but in the 11th minute a bit of quality gave the Premier League visitors the lead as Vitinha took aim from way out and hit a wonderful swerving effort which proved too much for keeper Matthew Urwin, but apart from that moment Wolves created very little in the opening forty-five minutes as the hosts defended well and competed well with their Premier League opponents.

Would Wolves go on and stamp their authority in the second period? Well no, as Chorley gave it a real go in the second period and had the visitors worried, and John Ruddy had to make a couple of decent saves to keep the hosts out.  The visitors even brought on Ruben Neves, Pedro Neto and Adama Traore as they were concerned, but they managed to do enough to take the win and see off Chorley, but it had been a monumental effort from the non-leaguers who had limited their Premier League opponents to just the ONE shot on target in the whole game, although that ultimately proved to be the winner.

Onto Saturday’s action now, which began with the lunchtime showing at St Marys for an all-Premier League tie between Southampton and current holders Arsenal. The sides meet again at St Marys in the league on Tuesday, so who would win the first one and progress into the next round?

Saturday January 23

Southampton 1 Arsenal 0

The hosts had the better of the opening exchanges and went close through James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams, and just past the midway point of the first half The Saints grabbed the lead as a dangerous ball into the danger zone by Kyle Walker-Peters saw Gabriel stretch to try and stop the ball but inadvertently deflect it past his own keeper Bernd Leno, it was the first time The Gunners had conceded in 510 minutes of football, but they were second best in the opening forty five minutes.

They had shown flashes of attacking play, but they needed to do more if they were to keep themselves in with a chance of defending their title in this competition.  Initially Southampton continued on the front foot as Arsenal struggled, but the introduction of Thomas Partey and Buyako Saka gave them a lift, and they were giving the hosts quite a bit of defending to do.  Fraser Forster had to make a decent save in that spell, and then Alexander Lacazette also came on for the visitors as they searched for that leveller. The hosts though defended well in the second period and booked their place in Round Five as the holders crashed out at St Marys.

There were six ties on Saturday that followed the lunchtime which kicked off at the good old original time of 3pm, a nice traditional kick off time me thinks. Brighton, Sheff Utd and West Ham all had tricky home ties with League One opponents, whilst there were three all championship ties at Oakwell, The New Den and The Liberty Stadium, lets see how those ties panned out…

Barnsley 1 Norwich City 0

Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Blackpool 1

Millwall 0 Bristol City 3

Sheffield United 2 Plymouth Argyle 1

Swansea City 5 Nottingham Forest 1

West Ham United 4 Doncaster Rovers 0

Barnsley dumped Championship leaders Norwich out of the FA Cup at Oakwell, The Tykes had the better of the opening forty-five minutes and managed to break through early on in the second period when Callum Styles gathered the ball before turning and firing low past Tim Krul, Norwich did hit the crossbar after the break but they bow out at the Fourth Round stage.

Brighton sneaked past League One Blackpool at the Amex, Yves Bissouma gave the Seagulls the lead in spectacular style, finding space thirty yards out before launching one right into the top corner, but right on half time a lovely move from the Tangerines sliced open the Brighton defence and Jerry Yates played in Luke Garbutt down the left and he crossed towards the near post where Gary Madine stabbed home. Brighton though netted what proved to be the winner just before the hour mark when Alexis Mac Allister’s shot from distance took a massive deflection off Steven Alzate’s back to fly into the opposite side of the goal to where keeper Chris Maxwell was and send the Premier League side through.

The Robins are into Round Five after victory at The New Den against Millwall, Bristol City grabbed the lead just past the half-hour mark when after Famara Diedhiou was taken out by keeper Frank Fielding, the striker stepped up to convert the penalty and give the visitors the lead, and then just before the hour mark City doubled their lead after Nahki Wells sent a free-kick over the wall before it took a huge deflection and bounced into the net.

The Robins then sealed their passage into the next round by netting a third with eighteen minutes remaining after catching Millwall on the break, as Antoine Semenyo drove through the heart of the defence to bury an effort left-footed into the net.  Sheffield United squeezed through to round five after seeing off a spirited Plymouth side at Bramall Lane, the Blades grabbed the lead after a great move ended with Billy Sharp standing up a lovely cross for Chris Basham to arrive and bury a header six minutes before the break, and then moments after the break United doubled their lead after Sharp, creator of the first goal, used his predatory instincts to run onto a pass from Oliver Norwood, skip around the keeper, and slam home with his left foot.

With fifteen minutes remaining though Argyle hauled themselves back into the contest after Panutche Camara threaded a low shot right through Aaron Ramsdale, the hosts held on to reach the next round of the competition. Swansea thrashed Forest at The Liberty Stadium to take their place in the next round, The Swans led after just seven minutes after a lovely ball in from Wayne Routledge saw Liam Cullen ran onto the cross and volley home unmarked into the right corner, and Matt Grimes doubled the hosts lead just before the half-hour mark with a brilliant strike from the edge of the box.

Forest though managed to get back into the contest eleven minutes after the break when they forced Swansea into an error which saw Anthony Knockaert teed up to thump home first time from close range, but five minutes later The Swans restored their two-goal cushion as after Joe Worrall was penalised for a foul on Ryan Manning, Grimes slotted home the resultant penalty for his second of the game. And midway through the half, it was four for the hosts after Cullen slotted home a drilled ball in by Manning.

Swansea still had time to add a fifth when brilliant work from Jamal Lowe on the left saw his eventual shot blocked, but the loose ball fell to Oliver Cooper who squeezed it past the keeper at the near post, and Swansea had cruised into Round Five. Finally, at The London Stadium, West Ham saw off Doncaster with ease to send them through, it took the Hammers just ninety seconds to break through their League One opponent’s backline as Andriy Yarmolenko fed Ryan Fredericks whose cut-back found Pablo Fornals who rammed home into the bottom corner, and a dominant West Ham side doubled their lead just past the half-hour marl when Said Benrahma played in Yarmolenko who dinked a lovely finish over the keeper. Eight minutes into the second period and the Hammers made it three when a Mark Noble corner was flicked across goal and went in off Donnie defender Andy Butler’s thigh for an own goal, and then with just under fifteen to go, 23-year-old forward Oladapo Afolayan netted on his debit, tapping home after Fredericks had forced a save from keeper Balcombe into his path.

Finally, on Saturday came the early evening kick off at Whaddon Road as League Two Cheltenham welcomed the might of Premier League Man City to their surroundings in the South West…

Cheltenham Town 1 Manchester City 3

Man City netted three goals in the final ten minutes to finally see off a brilliant Cheltenham Town side at Whaddon Road.  The hosts defended well against a very strong City line up, with the highlight a superb header off the line by Ben Tozer from a rocket of an effort from Benjamin Mendy, but the hosts had their moments too and caused City some alarm at times, so the hosts would have been very happy with their first-half showing. Just before the hour mark and it got so much better for the hosts as they grabbed a shock lead when a long throw from Tozer, a weapon that had been talked about before the game by both sides, saw the ball fall loose in the box and Alfie May stole in to poke home, and the League Two side lead Premier League big boys Man City with half an hour to go.

With nine minutes to go though City finally broke through as a lovely delivery from second-half substitute Joao Cancelo found Phil Foden at the far post who volleyed home the first time, and then three minutes after City had the lead as a lovely ball from Fernandinho found Gabriel Jesus who took a lovely touch and then belted it past keeper Josh Griffiths, and just like that City had turned it around and avoided an almighty shock. City then sealed the deal deep into stoppage time when Cancelo played another substitute in down the right, Ilkay Gundogan, who brilliantly squared for Ferran Torres to tap home at the near post, and they could breathe a sigh of relief after a huge scare against a superb Cheltenham Town side who gave it everything and were just over ten minutes away from a monumental shock.

Onto Sunday’s action now and it began with the midday kick off at Stamford Bridge as under pressure Chelsea had an awkward looking home tie with Championship Luton, could the visitors heap more woe on Frank Lampard and co?

Sunday January 24

Chelsea 3 Luton Town 1

Tammy Abraham netted a hat-trick as Chelsea saw off Luton Town at Stamford Bridge. The Blues settled any nerves by leading in the 11th minute when Timo Werner cut back to Abraham who swept home a first time right footed effort into the far corner, and it was quickly two for the hosts six minutes later when a ball in by Reece James saw Abraham get on the end of it to dink a header over keeper Simon Sluga who neither came or stayed and was left in no man’s land, and Chelsea had the start they had dreamed of. But, with their first real meaningful attack Jordan Clark fired an effort at goal after a ball in from the right by James Bree, and Kepa made a mess of trying to stop the ball and it squeezed through his grasp and into the net just before the half-hour mark, and the visitors had a lifeline after being totally dominated for the opening half hour.

The second period was a far more competitive encounter, and the hosts needed that third goal to make it more comfortable, and with just over fifteen minutes left they found a third and it was a lovely team move and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was on as a second half sub, drove down the left and played a ball to Billy Gilmour who played a lovely return pass to Hudson-Odoi, and his ball across goal saw Abraham tap home from close range for his hat-trick, and you felt that was the game finally done n dusted for the hosts. With five minutes to go Chelsea won a penalty after they countered on their opponents and saw Werner get through and as he rounded Sluga was brought down by Clark, but Werner saw his penalty saved by Sluga as his poor run of form in front of goal went on, but the hosts did get the job done in the end and progress into the Last 16. Sadly for Lampard this turned out to be his last game for the club as he was sacked the day after.

Two afternoon games followed, which saw two more games from the West of the capital, Championship Brentford hosted Premier League Leicester in one of the more intriguing ties of the round, and then an all-Premier League tie from Craven Cottage as Fulham hosted Burnley…

Brentford 1 Leicester City 3

Fulham 0 Burnley 3

Leicester put in a dominant second-half performance to come from behind and send Brentford out of the FA Cup at The Brentford Community Stadium. It was a fast start from the visitors but after six minutes the Bees grabbed the lead with a very scrappy goal after a corner ricocheted into the six-yard box and Mads Sorensen stuck out a foot to poke beyond keeper Danny Ward and give the Championship highflyers the advantage, and as the half went on it was the hosts who actually caused the more problems, and after a good opening from the Foxes, they knew they needed to put in a much better second period if they were going to avoid an upset.

Well, whatever he said to them at the break worked, as barely a minute into the second-period superb work from James Maddison set up Cengiz Under to fire home the first time and bring the Premier League side level, and then five minutes later Leicester had the chance to take the lead from the spot after Youri Tielemans was brought down inside the box, and he picked himself up to dispatch the spot-kick, and in a flash, Leicester had the advantage.

And with twenty minutes remaining Leicester sealed their passage into Round Five by making it three when a lovely ball from Under found Harvey Barnes who drove into the box and forced a save from Daniels, but the ball squirmed loose and Maddison was on hand to fire the ball home to cap a MOTM performance.  Over at Craven Cottage Burnley put in a very decent performance to see off Fulham, the Clarets took a deserved lead just past the half-hour mark after Jack Cork whipped in a wonderful ball from the right and Jay Rodriguez stooped to power a header into the net, it had been a largely dominant half from Sean Dyche’s men, so could they continue this in the second period?

Well, with around twenty minutes remaining they had the chance to double their lead after Matej Vydra was barged over inside the box and Rodriguez stepped up to fire home the penalty for his second goal of the afternoon. And with ten or so minutes remaining Burnley sealed a very impressive win when centre half Kevin Long fired home after Rodriguez had chested a cross down to him and send the Lancashire side into the Last 16.

Sunday evening saw two more ties, a certain all Premier League clash between Man United and Liverpool at Old Trafford and Championship Sheffield Wednesday’s trip to Goodison Park to take on Premier League Everton…

Manchester United 3 Liverpool 2

Everton 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0

Bruno Fernandes came off the bench to net a superb winner with twelve minutes to go to win a cracker at Old Trafford and send Liverpool out of the FA Cup. Liverpool struck the first blow after eighteen minutes as Roberto Firmino played a wonderful ball through to Mo Salah who dinked a lovely finish over Dean Henderson and the visitors had struck the early blow at Old Trafford, but eight minutes later United struck back after Marcus Rashford played a lovely diagonal pass which James Milner could not cut out and it found Mason Greenwood who took it in his stride and fired brilliantly past Alisson into the far corner, this was already miles better than the goalless league encounter played out the previous weekend at Anfield. Would the second half be as good as the first?

Well, three minutes into it United took the lead as roles reversed from their leveller as Greenwood’s pass was failed to be cut out by Rhys Williams, and Rashford ran in behind and finished past Alisson, disappointing from Williams who really should have cut out the pass, but the hosts had punished them to the max. But back came Liverpool who levelled this tie-up once again just before the hour mark when after sloppy play from United saw them give the ball away, the ball was played to Firmino who in turn played a pass across the box and Milner let it go, allowing it to run through to Salah who fired home, what a cup tie we had here!!!

And with twelve minutes to go Bruno Fernandes, on as a second-half sub, whipped home a fabulous free-kick and United had the lead for the second time in this contest.  Could Liverpool respond again? Well, United could have sealed it when Edinson Cavani headed against the post, but the visitors could not find another leveller and it meant United won a classic at Old Trafford to progress through to Round Five and saw Liverpool’s recent wobble continue. Follow that Everton & Sheffield Wednesday, well those two met at Goodison in Sunday’s final game, and after a fairly open half-hour, Everton grabbed the lead when Andre Gomes drove to the by-line before firing an effort across goal for Blades fan Dom Calvert-Lewin who slid in at the back post to convert.

The Toffees had created the better openings and deserved their lead, but you felt they needed a second goal as Wednesday did look a threat when did venture forward, and just before the hour mark, they found that crucial second when a lovely corner swung in by James Rodriguez found Richarlison who nodded home inside the six-yard box. And The Toffees quickly added a third to seal the contest when another Rodriguez corner saw Yerry Mina meet it to thump home a header from close range as Everton cruised into the Last 16.

Onto Monday evening now, and a contest from Adams Park, home of Championship side Wycombe who welcome Premier League Spurs to their Buckinghamshire home…

Monday January 25

Wycombe Wanderers 1 Tottenham Hotspur 4

Spurs netted three late goals to finally see off a brave challenge from Championship Wycombe at Adams Park, In the 25th minute the Championship side grabbed the lead after brilliant work on the right from Uche Ikpeazu, his cross ricocheted into the path of Fred Onyedinma who side footed past Joe Hart, but in first half stoppage time Spurs managed to find a leveller as a lovely ball in by Lucas Moura found Gareth Bale who ghosted in behind to touch past Ryan Allsop.

The Wycombe goal had led a charmed life in that first half, Bale had missed three decent chances before that and Moussa Sissoko and Japhet Tanganga had also hit the woodwork, so the leveller was going to come at some stage you felt, although The Chairboys had caused the Spurs backline plenty of problems too and had played well in the first period in what had been a very good cup tie thus far. There had been no shocks in the Fourth Road so far, would we get one here?

Spurs obviously didn’t want that to be the case and dominated the first part of the second period but could not find a way through so brought on Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Tanguy Ndombele in an attempt to find that second goal, and they finally made their dominance count with four minutes to go as a lovely ball in from Ndombele found Kane who forced a save from Allsop and after Kane put the ball back into the six-yard box, the defence cleared out to Harry Winks who curled a lovely effort into the bottom corner.

Moments after that Spurs sealed it when Son teed up Ndombele to send a first-time effort into the net before Ndombele grabbed his second and Spurs fourth in stoppage time by turning inside and firing beyond Allsop, and the Premier League side had got the job done and avoided embarrassment, meaning there were still no shocks in the fourth round.  Wycombe put up a brave fight but found Spurs far to good in the end, and it took them to bring on their big guns to beat them so they can take heart from that at least.

The final game from Round Four came on Tuesday evening in a game which had been moved from its original Saturday afternoon spot due to Crawley Town having some Covid issues, and they travelled to Championship AFC Bournemouth looking to cause another upset after their slaying of Leeds in the previous round…

Tuesday January 26

AFC Bournemouth 2 Crawley Town 1

Championship side Bournemouth are through to the Fifth Round after they saw off League Two Crawley at The Vitality Stadium on the South Coast. The Cherries grabbed the lead just past the midway point of the first period when Josh King flicked a pass to Jack Wilshire who curled a lovely effort into the bottom corner, but the League Two side harboured hopes of another shock when levelling just before the hour mark after Tom Nichols latched onto a Josh Wright flick-on from close range.

But twenty minutes into the second period Bournemouth netted the winner when great work down the left from Arnaut Danjuma Groeneveld ended with him teeing up Josh King who fired an effort into the bottom corner and end Crawley’s run in this year’s competition.

Here is the Fifth-Round Proper draw following those ties, which are to be played on 9-11 February 2021…

Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round Proper

Burnley v AFC Bournemouth

Manchester United v West Ham United

Sheffield United v Bristol City

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Southampton

Barnsley v Chelsea

Everton v Tottenham Hotspur

Swansea City v Manchester City

Leicester City v Brighton & Hove Albion

Will be back with a roundup of the Last 16 ties in mid-February.

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