Sport Soccer

Thursday 19 April 2018

Wigan running on empty


Ally McKay

Sparse crowd see Charles N’Zogbia guide the Latics to a place in round four

NEITHER Wigan nor Hull need the distraction of the FA Cup this season, with the spectre of relegation looming over them, but you would have thought the clubs’ fans would have enjoyed the prospect of an all-Premier League third-round tie. Still, only 5,335 turned out at the DW Stadium on Saturday to see the home side win 4-1 and progress into the fourth round after two-goal substitute Charles N’Zogbia sparked a second-half fightback.

The first half was a drab affair as the players appeared to struggle to get going in the empty stadium. The only moment of class came from Hull’s Geovanni, whose stunning free-kick opened the scoring after 35 minutes.

However, N’Zogbia’s half-time introduction proved inspired as he quickly struck twice and set up another for James McCarthy. Scott Sinclair then put the seal on an entertaining second half by wrapping up victory with a fine individual effort in the last minute.

Coventry held cash-strapped Portsmouth to a 1-1 draw at Fratton Park to set up a richly deserved replay. The Sky Blues went ahead against the run of play after half an hour thanks to a brilliant 20-yard effort from David Bell. Kevin-Prince Boateng nodded a leveller for the Premier League side in first-half stoppage time, but the troubled 2008 FA Cup winners never looked like finishing off Chris Coleman’s resilient side.

Nottingham Forest and Birmingham both kept their unbeaten runs going as the country’s two in-form sides could not be separated. It should not have been that way, however, as both sides had chances to ensure a replay at St Andrews on 12 January would not be necessary.

Robert Earnshaw was the prime culprit, putting a 62nd-minute penalty over the crossbar. Luke Chambers hit the woodwork for Forest and Chris Cohen spurned a one-on-one opportunity.

At the other end, Kevin Phillips struck a post and was also denied when through on goal with only Lee Camp to beat. Fraizer Campbell struck his first goals for three months to head Sunderland into the fourth round at the expense of non-leaguers Barrow. The Blue Square Premier side had put the wind up Steve Bruce’s men in a storming start which saw Phil Bolland, Paul Bond and Marc Goodfellow all go close. But Steed Malbranque’s 17th minute opener set the home side on their way in freezing conditions and Campbell’s brace in the second period saw the Premier League side home.

Campbell, whose only previous goal this season came in the Carling Cup against Birmingham in September, broke the hearts of around 8,000 away fans massed in the South Stand. There is far too much FA Cup tradition at White Hart Lane for anyone to take the competition anything but seriously. And Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp got the club’s 2010 challenge rolling when he sent out his strongest possible side to steamroller Championship strugglers Peterborough. Two goals from Niko Kranjcar, a strike from Jermain Defoe and a late penalty from Robbie Keane were the vital statistics in a 4-0 triumph.

Bobby Zamora did his chances of an England call-up no harm as he fired Fulham to a scrappy win over Swindon. Zamora coolly lifted the ball over David Lucas to score the winner after 16 minutes, his fourth goal in five games.

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