Competition: FA Cup Third Round Replay.
Rushden & Diamonds: Feuer; Wooding, Hamsher (Brady), Rodwell, Bradshaw; Heggs, Butterworth, McElhatton, Underwood; De Souza (Whyte), Foster (West).
Unused Subs: Corry, Cooper.
Referee: Mr S.W. Dunn (
Teenage strike sensation Alan Smith notched the first FA Cup goals of his budding career to ease United into the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. Rothwell-born Smith hit the target in the twenty-second and fifty-first minutes of the Third Round Replay to sweep Unitedís fears away after they had suffered the embarrassment of going a goal down to non-leaguers Rushden & Diamonds. The Football Conference outfit stunned the vast majority of a 39,000 plus crowd by taking an eleventh minute lead with a goal from Carl Heggs to set up a potential giant-killing act.
Smith brought the smiles back to the faces of the home fans when he took advantage of a move started by Lucas Radebe and flicked on by Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink, to run through and beat Rushden keeper Ian Feuer with great confidence and relative ease after twenty-two minutes, and he crowned a sparkling display with another cracking goal in the fifty-first minute as United, held to a goalless draw in the first meeting at Nene Park ten days previous, went ahead for the first time in this intriguing Third Round tie. As with Unitedís first strike, Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink showing better form than in recent games, played a part in the build-up by taking an accurate cross from Harry Kewell, to play the ball back to Alan Smith and Unitedís rising young star drilled it past Ian Feuer from eighteen yards with a cool assurance that belied his years.
Smithís two goal blast, which doubled his career tally of goals after his
strikes against Liverpool and Chelsea in his first two EPL appearances, and a
third strike from Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink in the sixty-seventh
minute effectively put paid to Rushdenís hopes of
writing themselves into FA Cup folklore. Earlier David OíLearyís gamble on the
fitness of Lucas Radebe backfired as he was outpaced
by Miquel Da Souza in a run
to the edge of the
United kept their heads and refused to become rattled and got their reward. They dominated play after the break and after Alan Smith knocked in the second they looked decidedly more comfortable as they had a succession of shots, they finished up with over thirty attempts on goal, and the Rushden keeper, Ian Feuer, enhanced his reputation with a series of fine saves. There was a bit of nostalgia as Chris Whyte, a mainstay of Unitedís 1992 Championship-winning side was given a warm welcome as he came on as a substitute for the Diamonds in the last few minutes and that applause was extended to the whole Rushden team as the sporting crowd rose to acknowledge the Rushden team who were defeated but not disgraced.
Carl Heggs gives Rushden a surprise early lead††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
Ian Harte and David Hopkin congratulate Alan Smith
Darren Bradshaw tries to dispossess Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
Harry Kewell watches as his shot goes narrowly wide
Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink holds off a Rushden defender
Alan Smith (2) and Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink scored the
Lucas Radebe started†††††††† Harry Kewell crossed for†††††††† Former Leeds hero Chris Whyte, Jon Brady and †
Colin West were the Rushden substitutes