FA Cup 5th Round Wrap
Saturday saw four intriguing FA Cup fifth-round clashes being played, each with the potential to produce one more giant killing in the oldest cup competition in the world.
Kicking off proceedings were Luton Town, who entertained London rivals Millwall hoping to become the first non-league team to make it into the quarterfinals of the Cup since 1914.
Later on, Premier League giants Arsenal hosted Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers with the Gunners looking to remain on track to claim their first piece of silverware since winning the Cup back in 2005.
Meanwhile, MK Dons of League One were at home to Championship strugglers Barnsley. In the evening contest Oldham Athletic eyed a repeat of their upset from the previous round, when they stunned Liverpool, by eliminating the Reds’ Merseyside rivals Everton at Boundary Park in front of the TV cameras.
So, here’s how all the action panned out …
Luton Town 0-3 Millwall
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Championship side Millwall avoided a potential banana skin in front of a live audience at Kenilworth Road in the competition’s early kick-off by seeing off a stubborn challenge from their London rivals to make it into the quarterfinals for the first time since they made it all the way to the final in 2004, where they were eventually beaten by Manchester United at Millennium Stadium.
The visitors took an early lead following a bad mistake by the Hatters’ Janos Kovacs, with James Henry profiting, before experienced front man Rob Hulse doubled the South London side’s advantage nine minutes before halftime when his volley somehow found the back of the net.
Despite creating several openings after the break, the home side just could not find a breakthrough, and Dany N'Guessan rounded off proceedings late on by adding a third after John Marquis’s effort had been saved by Mark Tyler in the Luton goal.
Arsenal 0-1 Blackburn Rovers
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Michael Appleton's in-form Championship outfit caused a monumental upset by knocking their top-flight hosts out of the Cup thanks to Colin Kazim-Richards's late strike at the Emirates.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made seven changes to his starting line-up from the North Londoners’ 1-0 win at Sunderland in the Premier League last Saturday, clearly with an eye on Tuesday’s massive first-leg Champions League last-16 home tie with Bayern Munich.
However, the Gunners missed a host of chances throughout the contest, while visiting keeper Jake Kean also turned in a man-of-the-match display to help his team into the last eight of the Cup for the first time in six years.
With the match on a knife edge and no goals having been scored, Wenger made a triple substitution after 70 minutes in an effort to win the game, bringing on big hitters Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla.
But it was Rovers who then took a shock lead after Poland international Wojciech Szczesny could only push Martin Olsson's effort straight into the path of Kazim-Richards, and the boyhood Arsenal fan was in the right place at the right time to bundle the ball home.
And, despite incessant late pressure from the home side, including midfield player Tomas Rosicky striking the crossbar, Blackburn held on to extend their impressive recent unbeaten run to six matches.
MK Dons 1-3 Barnsley
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Striker Chris Dagnall was the Barnsley goalscoring hero as his two strikes sent the lowly Championship side through to the quart-finals of the Cup at the expense of ten-man MK Dons.
The visitors, who made it all the way to the semi-finals of this competition five years ago, took an early lead through Dagnall and when veteran striker Marlon Harewood doubled the Tykes’ advantage after only 19 minutes, the tie was all but over as a contest.
However, just past the hour-mark Dean Bowditch gave the home side hope that they could cause yet another upset, having already eliminated the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Queens Park Rangers and Blackburn Rovers from domestic cup competitions this season.
But Dagnall’s sixth goal in his previous seven matches during what was 12 minutes of injury time that the referee added on at the end following an earlier clash of heads involving Kelvin Etuhu and Adam Chicksen eased the visitors’ nerves, despite the even later dismissal of MK Dons’ Alan Smith.
Oldham Athletic 2-2 Everton
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In what was undoubtedly the tie of the day, struggling League One outfit Oldham held Premier League high-flyers Everton to a thrilling 2-2 draw at Boundary Park thanks to a last-minute equaliser from Matt Smith.
Earlier on in the contest, Jordan Obita had given the underdogs a surprise 13th-minute lead with a simple finish following good wing play by Lee Croft, only for the Toffees to respond with a brace of strikes either side of the interval.
Firstly, Nigeria international Victor Anichebe’s volley pulled the Merseysiders level midway through the first half, before centre-back Phil Jagielka connected with second-half substitute Kevin Mirallas's corner to put the visitors ahead three minutes after half-time.
However, with the tie appearing to be over, giant-killers Oldham did it once again when substitute Smith’s close-range header gave the home side a money-spinning replay at Goodison Park.