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Fergie calm after humbling draw with Burton

Fergie calm after humbling draw with Burton

Alex Ferguson reflected on the romance of the FA Cup after watching his highly-paid Manchester United superstars held to a 0-0 draw by part-timers Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium.

This was a great day for Burton and a chastening day for United which was humbled by Conference opposition for the second successive season, following last year's goalless draw against Exeter.

But Ferguson preferred to highlight the unpredictability of cup football rather than lambaste his team for again failing to knock-out non-league opposition at the first time of asking.

"It's good for football," said the fiery Scot. "Burton have done the Conference proud. Until this year the FA Cup was going a bit flat in terms of shocks, but the Conference sides have done fantastic this season."

Ferguson was untypically calm and reflective after this latest humiliation in a torrid season and he even found some solace on an embarrassing day by talking about the latest aditions to his squad.

"We've brought in Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic, and we're assembling a more experienced squad," he said. "I'm disappointed it's a replay but at least it's at Old Trafford. We're still in the Cup - that's the main thing."

That he even had to draw positives from a stalemate against a side 104 places below United in the league pyramid spoke volumes.

Burton could even have nicked it had it been awarded a penalty when Spanish teenager Gerard Pique seemed to handle the ball in the area but referee Howard Webb gave a free kick the other way for a supposed push by Shaun Harrad.

Ferguson was gracious enough to pay tribute to how well Burton had played.

"It's the nature of the FA Cup," he said. "A difficult pitch, committed opponents who worked their socks off.

"But apart from a couple of corners, they didn't really threaten us. The crowd is the real problem, because they think they're going to score with every attack," he said.

He was perhaps being a little disingenuous. The two corners he spoke of resulted in Phil Bardsley twice clearing off the line, first from Jon Shaw and then from Darren Stride, while it took a scrambling save from Tim Howard to keep out a deflected Keith Gilroy drive in the dying seconds. United, in return, was limited to a couple of Wayne Rooney efforts, a disallowed Saha goal and an injury-time volley from Richard Jones, which was superbly saved by the Burton keeper Saul Deeley whose month-to-month contract ran out after the game.

Burton boss Nigel Clough was understandably delighted. "We were magnificent," he said. "My players gave everything and I'm very proud of them.

"My message to the lads for the replay at Old Trafford will be exactly the same: just go out and enjoy yourselves."

While Clough spoke of glory, chairman, Ben Robinson, had an eye on the balance sheet. "I dont know how much it's worth for us but however much it is will help the club to take a big step forward," he said.

Spurs stunned

Meanwhile, on a day of unexpected results, League Championship Leicester came from 2-0 down to oust Tottenham 3-2 thanks to an injury time winner, and League Two Leyton Orient won 2-1 at Fulham.

Premiership basement boys Sunderland avoided had no such problems, beating Conference side Northwich Victoria 3-0.

Fourth in the Premier League, Tottenham appeared to be coasting into the fourth round when Jermaine Jenas and Canadian Paul Stalteri put Martin Jol's team 2-0 up before halftime at Leicester.

But Elvis Hammond and Stephen Hughes hit back for the Foxes and, with the two sides seemingly going to a replay, Mark deVries hit the winner in the second minute of injury time.


Updated : 2021-06-19 08:07 GMT+08:00