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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Hulse Keeps The Dream Alive

WIGAN ATH: Filan, Taylor, Jackson, Henchoz, McMillan, Johansson (Kavanagh 72), Skoko (Roberts 72), Francis, Mahon (Teale 57), Connolly, McCulloch.

Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Chimbonda.

LEEDS UTD: Sullivan, Kelly, Butler, Kilgallon, Crainey, Miller, Derry, Douglas (Cresswell 79), Lewis, Hulse, Blake (Healy 68).

Subs Not Used: Bennett, Walton, Pugh.


I'm not that concerned what the Wigan fans think, but it's a sad day for football in this country when Wigan Athletic face the Whites and are odds-on to win.

But such is life, and what's the point in cryin' in my beer? But Rob Hulse put history a little bit into perspective, and kept our FA Cup hopes alive with a late equaliser to keep us in the competition.

You can't live on history alone, granted, but Wigan's efforts in this competition have been poor. So much so, David Connolly looked to have fired the Latics into the fourth round for the first time in 19 years! But with Paul Jewell's side down to 10 men - Ryan Taylor went off injured after all three substitutes had been used - Hulse pounced in the 88th minute with a close-range drive for his 10th this term.

Amazingly, with Jewell carrying out his threat to make changes, showing seven from the team disappointingly beaten 2-0 at Birmingham on Monday, Connolly was one of the main beneficiaries.

The Republic of Ireland international stepped in for Camara, now on African Nations Cup duty with Senegal, while Jason Roberts was left on the bench.

But United came into the game on the back of eight wins from their last 10 games, maintaining their push for at least a play-off place, and their confidence eventually came through in the closing stages.

But Kevin Blackwell knows he will have to strengthen his squad significantly if Leeds do return to the Premiership in May. Their moments of quality were rare, with the most incisive early on arriving in the ninth minute, initiated by Stephen Crainey's low left-wing cross.

Hulse, in for Richard Cresswell in the only change from Monday's 3-0 win at Plymouth, played a delightful flick into the path of Jonathon Douglas. However, an alert John Filan was quick off his line to block well at the feet of the on-loan Blackburn midfielder.

Within a minute Leeds again pushed forward, with Robbie Blake finding Liam Miller who had managed to get round the back of Steve McMillan. Miller, who yesterday extended his loan from Manchester United through to the end of the season, picked out Douglas in the heart of the area that resulted in a deflected shot and a corner that came to nothing.

Wigan's only clear opportunity in the first period came on the half-hour with Lee McCulloch rising to meet an Alan Mahon cross from the left, albeit directing a header directly at an untroubled Neil Sullivan.

Leeds should have taken the lead 45 seconds after the restart. A smart move down the left wing culminated in Eddie Lewis delivering a cross that found Blake for a 14-yard right-foot drive, only for an unaware Steve McMillan to get his body in the way.

Instead, it was Wigan who made the breakthrough just 75 seconds later with Connolly stabbing home from close in after McMillan had drilled a low cross into the six-yard box.

Connolly, though, twice went close as the 10 men looked poised to strike again, until Hulse was on hand to set up a replay at Elland Road on January 17.









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Go on, get vitalled!

The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday January 8 2006

Time: 1:36PM

 

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