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McClaren admits Middlesbrough was lucky to draw with plucky Nuneaton

McClaren admits Middlesbrough was lucky to draw with plucky Nuneaton

After watching Middlesbrough draw 1-1 against non-league Nuneaton Borough, Boro boss Steve McClaren admitted it could have been worse - his team could easily have lost to the part-timers.

"It was always going to be a difficult game and in the end we were fortunate it was just a draw," the Premiership side's manager conceded.

"There are so many upsets in the FA Cup each year and we were very nearly one of them," he said.

"It was very, very disappointing but it could have been even worse, and we live to fight another day and we have to make sure we finish the match and get into the next round."

Nuneaton, of the Conference North, exactly 100 league places beneath Middlesbrough in the English football hierarchy, ensured the FA Cup third round lived up to its reputation for upsets in front of 6,000 cheering home fans.

After some early scares it looked as if Middlesbrough's team of millionaire internationals would cruise to victory as Gaizka Mendieta curled home a superb free kick on 15 minutes.

But Nuneaton clung on, and Gez Murphy - who combines his football with a job as a local council worker - scored from the penalty spot in the 90th minute after Gareth Southgate was judged to have handled a cross from Nuneaton substitute Michael Frew.

Nuneaton manager Roger Ashby, a non-league veteran as both player and manager, said his side would look forward to the January 17 replay - the 10th game of an epic FA Cup campaign.

"It has just been magnificent - a magnificent performance and a magnificent day," he said."It feels like we won the game to be honest and the supporters who are here will remember this for the rest of their lives," he added.

Apart from the glory, the financial rewards of a replay at the Riverside will be vital for Nuneaton, which is aiming for promotion to the main Conference, one level below the Football League.

"We have had a long run in the FA Cup this season - we will go into double figures when we play at the Riverside," Ashby said.

"That replay in the FA Cup will be a savior for us financially. We are a non-league club and our finances are limited."

Shear class

Newcastle skipper Alan Shearer scored his 200th goal for the Magpies on Saturday to take him level with the legendary Jackie Milburn and then dedicated the achievement to his mother.

The 35-year-old struck in the 79th minute to see off League Two Mansfield at St James' Park in the FA Cup third round much to the relief of the 41,459 crowd who hailed his Gallowgate End goal.

"It's my mother's 60th birthday on Sunday, so she can have that one," said Shearer.

"This will be an afternoon I will cherish for the rest of my life. It was fantastic. All my family was here, which was important," he said.

"I'm very proud to be sitting up there alongside the great Jackie Milburn. It's a great achievement," he said.

"I was brought here to score goals, and thankfully that's what I've been doing for the last 10 years now."

In other FA Cup action: Hull 0, Aston Villa 1; Arsenal 2, Cardiff 1; Wigan 1, Leeds 1; Blackburn 3, Coventry 0; Chelsea 2, Huddersfield 1; Ipswich 0, Portsmouth 1; Manchester City 3, Scunthorpe 1; Millwall 1, Everton 1; Norwich 1, West Ham 2; Sheffield Wednesday 2, Charlton 4; Torquay 0, Birmingham 0; Watford 0, Bolton 3; West Bromwich Albion 1, Reading 1.


Updated : 2021-07-31 11:44 GMT+08:00