Football: Spurs' FA Cup dream on hold after Stevenage stalemate

LONDON: Premier League high-flyers Tottenham Hotspur were held to a shock goalless draw away to third tier Stevenage in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday and face a replay to reach the quarter-finals.

League One Stevenage demonstrated excellent defensive organisation and no little skill in attack to keep a Spurs side managed by Harry Redknapp, favourite for the permanent England job, at bay.

Tottenham, third in English football's top-flight and eight-times FA Cup winners did see Stevenage goalkeeper Chris Day, a former Spurs player, make a good save to turn Gareth Bale's 25-yard effort round the post early in the second half.

Spurs then had the ball in the back of net when Louis Saha steered in Danny Rose's cross only for the effort to be ruled out after a linesman spotted the striker's shot had clipped the offside Scott Parker before hitting the net.

However, few could deny Stevenage deserved a money spinning replay trip to Spurs' White Lane ground.

"I've managed lower league sides that have knocked Premier League teams out (of the FA Cup) and managed Premier League teams who've been knocked out," Redknapp told ITV.

"They (Stevenage) made it difficult and worked hard. The ball was bobbling around, it was difficult to pass the ball on that pitch."

Delighted Stevenage boss Gary Smith said: "We had one or two opportunities we could have made more of but, overall, the players were outstanding."

There no stumbles for the other two Premier League sides involved in Cup action on Sunday.

Liverpool and Stoke will face each other in an Anfield quarter-final after the Reds thrashed Championship Brighton 6-1 and Stoke triumphed 2-0 away to fourth-tier Crawley Town.

Liverpool, helped by a Cup record three own-goals from Brighton, went ahead at Anfield in the fifth minute when Martin Skrtel got in front of Ashley Barnes to head in a Steven Gerrard corner.

But the Seagulls were level in the 17th minute when Kazenga LuaLua's fierce free-kick through a disintegrating Liverpool wall gave Pepe Reina no chance.

Before half-time Liverpool were 2-1 up when a Glen Johnson header deflected in off Liam Bridcutt.

Andy Carroll made it 3-1 with a thumping 57th minute shot before the luckless Bridcutt 'scored' his second own goal in the 71st minute, when he turned in a Gerrard shot.

Three minutes later Brighton's Lewis Dunk hacked a Luis Suarez cross into his own net and five minutes from time Suarez, who had a penalty saved, completed the rout when the unmarked striker headed in Liverpool's sixth goal.

Stoke won at Crawley despite playing most of the match a man down after Rory Delap was sent off.

Goals either side of half-time, courtesy of a Jonathan Walters penalty and a Peter Crouch header, saw Stoke, last season's beaten finalists, into the last eight.

Stoke's victory ended the FA Cup run of League Two side Crawley, who also reached the fifth round last season before losing to Manchester United.

But Premier League Stoke suffered an early setback when Delap was shown a straight red card by referee Mike Jones for a lunging challenge on David Hunt in the 17th minute.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis criticised Jones for Delap's red card by saying: "There is a big problem within the game in that I think professional people and referees are so far apart in what they see in terms of what are fair challenges or competitive challenges and the bad, reckless challenges."

Sunday's quarter-final draw produced another all Premier League tie with Everton, who knocked Blackpool out on Saturday, at home to Sunderland, who ended Arsenal's FA Cup campaign.

Stevenage or Tottenham will welcome Bolton while Chelsea or Birmingham, who drew 1-1 on Saturday, will face Championship Leicester, who on Saturday beat Premier League Norwich 2-1 in the only upset win of the fifth round.

- AFP/de

VIEW SOURCE FROM http://www.channelnewsasia.com/

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