FA Cup: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Cole Palmer capped a man-of-the-match performance with a pearl of a strike in victory at Swindon but he was not the only 19-year-old England youth international to shine. On the opposite flank – and for the opposing team – the on-loan Kaine Kesler Hayden did not look out of place up against Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva. Kesler Hayden, who was called up to the England Under-20 squad in September, impressed the Aston Villa manager, Steven Gerrard, so much that on Sunday he recalled the right-wing back. Kesler Hayden bombed forward at every opportunity and in the second half Rodri earned a booking after resorting to shoving the advancing defender to the floor. There was a cheeky nutmeg on João Cancelo but his sweetest moment was surely the sprint and tackle to cleanly snaffle the ball from De Bruyne. Gerrard is keen to bolster his defensive options and, on Friday’s evidence at least, Kesler Hayden looks ready to star. Ben Fisher

Sometimes, just sometimes, dreams really can come true. Given that Joe Ironside grew up watching Alan Shearer play No 9 for Newcastle and still idolises him, it seemed somehow fitting that Cambridge United’s Middlesbrough-born striker scored the goal which sealed a 1-0 win for Mark Bonner’s impressively choreographed League One side – along with the shock of the third round. Hats off, too, to Dimitar Mitov, Bonner’s Bulgarian goalkeeper – and Ironside’s housemate – who made some fabulous saves against Eddie Howe’s generally very disappointing team. Newcastle seemed to surrender after Ironside’s goal and it was all too easy to understand how they have won only once all season. Small wonder the club’s chairman, Yasir al-Rumayyan, who, accompanied by a quartet of bodyguards, had flown in from Saudi Arabia to watch the tie, took the highly unusual step of visiting the home dressing room to deliver a post-match pep talk. Louise Taylor

Amari Morgan-Smith has defended the pitch invasion that followed Kidderminster’s memorable FA Cup third-round triumph over Reading. The National League North side’s striker scored the winning goal in the 82nd minute but, after 14 added minutes were played, the Aggborough pitch was stormed by hundreds of fans, the vast majority of whom were celebrating the 2-1 triumph. Veljko Paunovic, the Reading manager, complained that his players were endangered as his team and coaching staff were verbally accosted but Morgan-Smith could see the traditional aspect of Kidderminster’s emotional achievement. The 32-year-old said: “It’s one of those moments we’ve all seen happen so many times over the years in the FA Cup – there’s a giantkilling act and the fans come on to the pitch. So it’s been part and parcel of the game really. The players gave everything for the fans and the vast majority were only there to show their appreciation, which was nice. It took me a while to get back to the dressing room and I was cramping up in my legs, so it took me even longer than most.” Peter Lansley

It was, as Thomas Tuchel kept pointing out, only against a fifth-tier side, but still there was much to enjoy in the performance of Chelsea’s debutant 17-year-old left-back Lewis Hall. He was quick and purposeful, looked comfortable on the ball, showing no signs of the pre-match nerves of which he later spoke. He got forward repeatedly, crossing for Romelu Lukaku to score the third and unleashing the shot that was blocked before Andreas Christensen headed in the rebound for the fourth. With Ben Chilwell and Reece James both suffering long-term injuries, Chelsea are in need of another full-back and have made initial approaches to Everton’s unsettled former Barcelona left-back Lucas Digne. Playing in the Premier League, clearly, is another level, and Hall was not tested defensively, but it may be that Hall did enough to suggest that it’s at least worth considering him as cover for Marcos Alonso. Jonathan Wilson

Jack Butland must have been the most relieved man in south London on Saturday night after Crystal Palace swept aside Millwall following his first-half error. The former England goalkeeper was making only his sixth start for Palace since joining from Stoke in October 2020 and showed mental resilience in making some important saves in the second half to ensure his side set up a home tie against Hartlepool in the fourth round. “Jack has a really strong character and he’s surrounded by people who really want him to do well,” said Patrick Vieira. “He understands the mistakes and he will bounce back. He is an international player but when you are not playing every week, of course the confidence is not there. But the way he has been working when he has not been in the team has been brilliant and I’m glad to have him here.”
Ed Aarons

Match report: Millwall 1-2 Crystal Palace

Nikola Vlasic has not found it easy since joining West Ham last summer. The Croatian did not have much time to adapt after arriving on the final day of the transfer window and has not had many chances to show why David Moyes thought that he was worth £25.7m. West Ham’s attack was settled and Vlasic, who had a disappointing spell at Everton before joining CSKA Moscow, struggled to break into the team. Now, though, he has a chance. Saïd Benrahma is away at the African Cup of Nations with Algeria and West Ham need Vlasic to step up. He has a lot of talent and played well as West Ham eased past Leeds, playing a crucial role in Manuel Lanzini’s opening goal. “Vlasic played well,” Moyes said. “He’s a really good lad. I’ve got a lot of faith in him and think he’ll come good.” Jacob Steinberg

Liverpool’s teenage right flank encapsulated the team’s afternoon against Shrewsbury – struggling initially against Nathanael Ogbeta’s threat on the counterattack or to break down a deep defence before delivering a composed, confident performance that demonstrated Jürgen Klopp’s belief in the talents of Kaide Gordon and Conor Bradley. The 18-year-old Bradley, already a Northern Ireland international, provided two assists as Liverpool eventually eased into round four while Gordon, at 17 years and 96 days, overtook Michael Owen as the second youngest goalscorer in the club’s history with a polished equaliser. Klopp said: “They both can be so much better because they are real talents. We know how good Conor can be and Kaide, finishing-wise he is an adult, but in all the rest he is still a kid. When he gets in these situations he is really calm. He has a nose for it. Kaide has time, but he will have his minutes here and there. He only just came back from Covid as well. It is really not easy to show up in a game like this and he did.” Andy Hunter

Masking over the issues at handor a genuine cause for optimism moving forward? That was the question for many Everton supporters on Saturday night as they made their way back along the M62 after booking their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Victory against Hull was certainly hard fought, and not without its nervy moments throughout the course of 120 minutes. But in a way, as Rafa Benítez pointed out, that was perhaps the biggest positive of all. Everton, no strangers to adversity this season, faced a serious test of their mettle against Hull, especially after going a goal behind inside the opening minute. That they showed the desire and resilience to ultimately prevail in the tie was encouraging for Benítez, and it is a trait they will have to call on again in the coming weeks if the Spaniard is to win over his doubters. Aaron Bower

Match report: Hull 2-3 Everton

Milot Rashica could hardly miss. A late tap-in at the Valley served to both open his Norwich account, and secure a fourth-round tie at Wolves. Of equal importance, extra time was avoided. Neither player nor team needed that. Norwich’s £60m summer spend gave them Europe’s 11th biggest transfer outlay. Their perilous Premier League position therefore, represents failure. Of the 11 new faces brought in, most supporters would pick Kosovan Rashica as the standout. His return to fitness then, is timely. Without him, the Canaries secured just one point from six top-flight games, scoring just once. Faint hopes of survival may just rest on Rashica’s shoulders. Sam Dalling

One game into his Arsenal career, it all looked too good to be true for Charlie Patino, the much whispered-about 18-year-old who marked his debut against Sunderland last month with a well-taken goal and in the process seemed to confirm all the swirling hype. His second appearance, this time against rather less accommodating opponents, delivered something of a reality check for anyone who imagined that he would be able to reproduce his youth-team displays at senior level without overcoming a hurdle or two on the way. Patino didn’t do a lot wrong on Sunday but he didn’t do much right either, traipsing off after 68 minutes having made fewer passes than the opposition keeper – not a statistic you would want against your name as a central midfielder. Patino is clearly supremely gifted and may well go on to become an all-time Arsenal great. Sunday was a reminder that such a fate is anything but guaranteed. Alex Hess




, , ,

Comments are closed.