Vol. 4 Num 218 Mon. January 05, 2004  

FA Cup
Chelsea held, Charlton crash

Charlton became the first Premiership team to be dumped out of this season's FA Cup when they lost 3-2 away to First Division Gillingham on Saturday.

Charlton were 1-0 up at the Priestfield Stadium thanks to a first minute own goal from Ian Cox.

But Gillingham rallied and hit back with first-half goals from Tommy Johnson, Mamady Sidibe and Paul Smith to be two clear at the break.

Carlton Cole, on loan from Chelsea, pulled one back for Charlton in the 90th minute but it was too late to save the team sitting fourth in the Premiership, who had rested key players.

Charlton boss Alan Curbishley appeared unflustered.

"It happens to us every year. We never seem to be able to get through the early rounds of the Cup," he said.

The Premiership's bottom club Wolves were almost knocked out too, but scrambled a 1-1 draw at Third Division Kidderminster after Alex Rae's 89th minute equaliser cancelled out John Williams's 77th minute opener.

Wolves manager Dave Jones was unimpressed. "Nine of my team who played today got us promotion last year. It's not as if they don't know each other."

Earlier Saturday, Chelsea - third in the Premiership -- were held to a dramatic 2-2 draw away to First Division Watford at Vicarage Road.

Premiership battlers Bolton also face a replay after coming from behind away to Second Division Tranmere in a 1-1 draw at Prenton Park.

Elsewhere Portsmouth scraped past Second Division Blackpool 2-1.

In other Cup matches involving Premiership teams, Freddie Kanoute scored a hat-trick in Tottenham's 3-0 home win over First Division Crystal Palace, underlining why Spurs are reluctant to let him play for Mali in this month's African Nations Cup.

Manchester City drew 2-2 with Leicester City while in another all Premiership clash Birmingham thrashed Blackburn 4-0.

Another all-Premiership clash saw Newcastle secure a 3-0 win away to last season's beaten finalists Southampton in the day's late game.

Kieron Dyer scored twice and Laurent Robert also netted as Newcastle bounced back after being stung by criticism from chairman Freddy Shepherd after a string of poor performances.

"That was more like it," said Newcastle skipper Alan Shearer.

"Our performances over the last two games have not been acceptable. We don't need anyone to tell us."

Multi-millionaires Chelsea twice had to come from behind against a team 35 league places below them.

Watford, managed by former Chelsea player Ray Lewington who guided them to the semi-finals last season, went ahead in the first half through Heidar Helguson's controversial header and Alan Mahon.

But Chelsea hit back through Eidur Gudjohnsen's penalty after a foul by Watford keeper Lenny Pidgeley -- who is on loan from Chelsea - and Frank Lampard's deflected shot put the teams level at 2-2.

In the second half, Watford believed they were denied a penalty when William Gallas fouled Mahon on the edge of the box.

Lewington was elated at the prospect of a replay. "It's a great result for the club, another big pay day and we need it."

Watford went ahead when Helguson's header from Neal Ardley's cross beat Chelsea keeper Neil Sullivan and rebounded off the crossbar.

Replays confirmed that the ball had not crossed the line but referee Alan Wiley awarded the goal after consulting linesman Dave Bryan.

Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri said the incident showed why stadiums should be equipped with goal-line cameras.

"I make mistakes, as do players, referees and linesmen," said Ranieri. "But sooner or later, all stadia, especially in the Premier League, must have a camera to say whether it's a goal or not - and not just because this happened to us."

Chelsea levelled in the 33rd minute when Adrian Mutu's through ball released Jesper Gronkjaer, who went down under Pidgeley's challenge, and Gudjohnsen scored from the spot.

Just over a minute later Watford regained the lead.

From a free kick, Sullivan was caught in no-man's land, Marcus Gayle flicked on and Mahon headed home.

But Chelsea were not dead and Lampard's 41st minute deflected shot from the edge of the box beat Pidgeley.

Wiley turned down Watford appeals for a penalty after Chelsea defender William Gallas flicked out a boot at Mahon.

Elsewhere, Leicester took the lead through former City striker Paul Dickov in the fourth minute before Nicolas Anelka equalised with a penalty.

Marcus Bent put Leicester 2-1 up in the 66th minute before Anelka headed City level three minutes later.

Cup holders Arsenal travel to Premiership strugglers Leeds on Sunday, Aston Villa host Manchester United and Liverpool face a potentially tricky tie at Yeovil.