The fourth round of the FA Cup - usually a lacklustre weekend - almost lived up to the previous round for intriguing results, says Hyder Jawad...
The best thing one might say about Birmingham City today is that they will go into the draw for the fifth round of the FA Cup. Joining them will be Reading's reserve team, who drew 1-1 with Birmingham at the Madejski Stadium two days ago.
It was not vintage Birmingham but at least they restored some pride with a fine second-half performance, thanks, in
part, to David Dunn and Chris Sutton. Without these two players, the club would almost certainly be contemplating a surprise defeat.
Reading's reserve team had previously defeated West Bromwich Albion in a third-round replay.
Coventry City also go into the draw today but they came out of their 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough with more credit. The replay will be tougher but Coventry have turned the corner in terms of performances and results, and they are worth backing even at the Riverside Stadium.
Aston Villa's 3-1 victory at home to Port Vale was
not as routine as the scoreline might suggest but at least it was an improvement on their 3-0 defeat to Doncaster Rovers in the League Cup.
Walsall lost 2-1 away to Stoke City but came out of the match with applause after a fine performance. Cheltenham Town were not two goals worse off than Newcastle United but still lost by that margin, having suffered much bad luck.
There was something inevitable about the defeat for Wolverhampton Wanderers at home to Manchester United from the moment that Kieran Richardson opened the scoring in the sixth minute. United won 3-0.
Richardson made his name last season as a skilful left winger on loan with West Bromwich Albion, so it was somehow fitting - at least, from his point of view - that he should score twice in the victory.
The favourites for the FA Cup, Chelsea, could only draw 1-1 away to Everton, while Arsenal lost 1-0 away to Bolton Wanderers.