Aston Villa 0-2 Fulham (FA Cup 4th round) Morgan 8, Hayward 43
As we approach a free 4th round weekend courtesy of a miserable performance against Oldham I thought I would cheer us up a little with possibly the best F.A.Cup 4th round memory in our history. We were having an excellent season under Kevin Keegan and would go on to win the second division comfortably. However, as the table shows we were far from home and hosed at the time and the F.A.Cup may have been seen as a distraction from our main goal.
We had overcome Premier league Southampton in a 3rd round replay and headed to Villa Park with a degree of hope although we knew the task would be much harder with Villa having a remarkable season. They were level on points with Chelsea at the top of the table with John Gregory getting the most out of a squad that
Fulham: Maik Taylor, Wayne Collins, Kit Symons, Chris Coleman, Rufus Brevett, Simon Morgan, Paul Bracewell, Steve Hayward, Steve Finnan, Geoff Horsfield, Paul Peschisolido (Neil Smith).
Unused Subs: Paul Trollope,John Salako, Barry Hayles, Andre Arendse.
Aston Villa: Oakes, Ehiogu, Southgate, Barry, Watson, Scimeca, Taylor, Hendrie, Wright, Joachim, Merson.
Subs: Grayson, Ferraresi, Bassell, Hughes, Rachel.
With Mohammed Al Fayed promising Premier League football within 5 years we had significantly upgraded our squad since Micky Adams had achieved promotion on a shoestring less than 2 years before. There was a smattering of Premier League experience with skipper Cookie Coleman oozing class at the back and Paul Bracewell knitting things together in midfield. For some of our line up though it was an opportunity to show they belonged at a higher level. Steve Finnan and Geoff Horsfield had played plenty of non-league football before earning their chance in the pro game while for Simon Morgan it was a huge game being as he was a lifelong fan of Villa’s biggest rivals, Birmingham City.
BBC Match Report
Fulham dump red-faced Villa
Second division Fulham pulled off the shock result of the fourth round by knocking out Premiership high flyers Aston Villa at Villa Park.And Villa’s troubles deepened further when it emerged that Stan Collymore had failed to turn up for the game, after being named on the bench. The striker’s days with the Midlands club now look numbered.
A clearly exasperated Villa boss John Gregory would only say: “I’ve stood by Stan Collymore since the day I walked through the door last February. I’ve tried to support him in everything that has gone on whilst he’s been at this football club.”
But Fulham boss Kevin Keegan experienced a much brighter day, looking on with pride as his multi-million pound team recorded their third win over Premiership opposition this season.
Steve Hayward, a Villa boyhood fan, masterminded the victory, creating Simon Morgan’s opener, and then adding the second, courtesy of a deflection. Fulham’s first goal came after just ten minutes, Morgan rising at the near post to head in Hayward’s inch perfect corner past Michael Oakes and into the net after just eight minutes.
It was Morgan’s first appearance since the end of last year and he had been rushed back by the Cottagers despite not playing a reserve team game following a calf injury.
For most of the early stages, it was the Second Division team who controlled the game, dominating possession and causing the Premiership side plenty of problems from set pieces. Paul Peschisolido proved a handful for the Villa back three, and producing one run which ended with a strong shot that Oakes did well to handle cleanly.
Julian Joachim had Villa’s best first-half chance, running clear after 35 minutes, but his shot was not firmly struck, and Maik Taylor was able to hold onto it at the second attempt.
In the final miniute of the half, Fulham were awarded a free kick 20 yards from goal. Veteran midfielder Paul Bracewell laid the ball off to Hayward, and his low shot seemed innocent enough until it caught a deflection and raced past a wrong footed Oakes.
Villa came out with all guns blazing at the start of the second half but Fulham stood firm in the face of their hosts’ onslaught. After 49 minutes, Oakes did well to cut out Peschisolido’s low cross with Wayne Collins waiting to pounce six yards out. Young striker Darius Vassell, whose two late goals gave Villa a UEFA Cup victory over Stromsgodset in September, came on for Alan Wright after 59 minutes as Gregory threw caution to the wind.
But the visitors were frustrating their hosts time and again as the Premiership team struggled to create a clearcut opening. In the last ten minutes, Fulham threatened to add to their total, as both Geoff Horsfield and Peschisolido broke clear, but Gareth Southgate, Villa’s most impressive player, was able to prevent any further damage.
The game at Villa is a personal highlight in my Fulham memory bank for a couple of reasons. I had moved into a new house the day before but with tickets already purchased for Villa, it was left to my wife to do all the sorting out. I’m not certain I gave her too much choice in the matter but remain grateful that to this day she tolerates my Fulham obsession. The game was also my 7-year-old son’s first ever away trip and the bar was set pretty high that day. It’s fair to say he’s become accustomed to quite a lot of disappointment in the 20 years since.
The 5th round draw sent us to Old Trafford to face all-conquering Manchester United who would go on to win the treble that season. We gave them a good run for their money in front of 8,000 of our fans who made the trip with John Salako missing a golden chance to force a replay close to the end. In hindsight, our exit may have done us no harm as we marched on to an imperious 101 points in the League to clinch the title by a massive 14 point margin over our nearest challengers Walsall. In contrast, Villa’s season collapsed after this defeat. Stan Collymore was admitted to the Priory with clinical depression and ironically would turn up in a Fulham shirt on loan at the start of the next season. This wasn’t the only reason their form went off the rails though as their squad didn’t have the same depth as those others near the top of the table. By the end of the campaign, they had dropped to 6th place to finish a distant 24 points behind champions United.