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Sheff Utd 1-1 Fulham FAC 4th Rnd 1314 Mirror

last updated Monday 27th January 2014, 12:31 PM
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David Anderson at The Mirror

Sheff Utd (1) 1 Fulham (0) 1

The FA Cup is all about heroes and villains, those who step up to the plate and those who trip over it.

And there were plenty at Bramall Lane who fitted both categories.

First the heroes, and United's players, Harry Maguire in particular, deserve credit for the way they outfought, outworked and out-everythinged Fulham.

Everyone that is except skipper Michael Doyle, who cast himself as the villain, stupidly getting sent off to allow Fulham back in the game.

Joining Doyle in a dunce's hat is Darren Bent, who managed to miss an open goal in the dying minutes.

It was a calamitous howler by the Cottagers' England international. He must have felt like kicking himself, although, judging by his finishing, he probably would have missed.

As his former boss at Spurs, Harry Redknapp, once said, it was a chance Arry's missus Sandra could have buried.

United deserved that break and defeat would have been harsh on Nigel Clough's side, who made a mockery of the two leagues between the sides.

Clough would also have cast Andre Marriner as a villain because the referee refused to award United a penalty just minutes before Fulham equalised.

He was rightly proud of his team's Herculean efforts and they continued to attack, even though they played virtually all the second half with 10 men. Their effort and desire shamed the Premier League club and manager Rene Meulensteen's totally-changed team played like the shadow side they are.

Josh Passley and Muamer Tankovic could not be faulted on their debuts and first starts respectively but too many of Fulham's senior players disappointed.

Little football was possible in the first half as the incessant rain turned Bramall Lane's pitch into a paddy field.

United coped better with the atrocious conditions, taking the lead on 31 minutes when Maguire drove forward past Tankovic and unleashed a drive, which was diverted home by the predatory Chris Porter.

Fulham tried to respond and Meulensteen felt they might have had a penalty when Hugo Rodallega went down under a challenge from keeper George Long.

If that was a break for United, they suffered two setbacks when Porter failed to appear for the second half because of a hamstring injury and defensive linchpin Maguire went soon afterwards with a knee problem.

Then came Doyle's moment of madness on 52 minutes when he kicked Chris David off the ball and was rightly dismissed.

Like a besieging army, Fulham set up camp in United's half, but it was the home side who nearly scored again on the counter when David Stockdale saved from Ryan Flynn at his near post.

Pajtim Kasami failed with a lame attempt to win a penalty before the Blades were denied a much better shout when Flynn appeared to be brought down by Aaron Hughes.

Clough went potty in his technical area and his mood was not helped when Fulham equalised in the 75th minute. United gave Rodallega too much room outside the area and he planted his shot into the bottom corner, giving Long no chance.

Bent should have won it five minutes from time when he someone managed to plant the ball wide from just a yard out with the goal gaping.

Source FA Cup, Fulham, Sheff Utd, match report
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