Done: Hibs' Euro dream back on
Sun, 17 Feb 2013 15:18:00
Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez was a satisfied man after his side finally overcame some stubborn resistance from Brentford to win their FA Cup fourth round replay at Stamford Bridge.
It took 54 minutes before Juan Mata opened the scoring for the Blues against the League One side but goals from Oscar, Frank Lampard and the recalled John Terry then gave the final 4-0 scoreline a flattering look.
Benitez, whose team now travel to Middlesbrough in the fifth round, said: "Credit to them because the first half they were working very hard, but afterwards it was a question of time.
"We knew scoring first could be the difference. They would be more open and we would have more space.
'I'm pleased to score four goals and create chances. I'm really pleased with Oscar and Demba Ba did a great job keeping them busy."
The Spaniard also paid tribute to Lampard after he took his tally of goals for the club to 199.
"The team is doing well and Frank is on fire so he is scoring goals and that is good for him and good for us," he said.
Chelsea have now won three successive matches following last weekend's victory over Wigan and the Europa League defeat of Sparta Prague and Benitez is keen to keep the run going.
"In football you have to win games and for a top side it is even more important because everybody expects you to win every game," he added.
"I have said before that this is a team in transition. I think we have good players and little by little we can manage to improve the understanding between players and everyone is even better and we can continue winning games."
Higdon took his personal tally for the season against Inverness to six goals with a simple tap-in and a wonderful left-footed volley as Motherwell secured an ultimately convincing 3-0 win.
Motherwell can move five points clear in second on Tuesday if they beat Dundee United at home, and Higdon intends to keep the impressive home form going after they made it 13 points and 15 goals from five games at Fir Park.
The former St Mirren forward said: "We're in a good position and have a couple of games in hand on the teams around us.
"It's good we have a game coming up on Tuesday because we would rather play than train, especially when we are on winning form.
"We want to carry on the way we are going. We just want to go out and express ourselves, and I thought we did that with some outstanding performances."
Higdon opened the scoring on Saturday after an entertaining first half hour when he was on hand to convert Henrik Ojamaa's mis-hit shot, and Motherwell built on their lead in the opening stages of the second half.
Nicky Law burst into the box and converted after some good skill, before Higdon's first-time strike from 18 yards put the game beyond Caley Thistle in the 56th minute.
Kallum Higginbotham made his first start after being brought in when Jamie Murphy left for Sheffield United and the on-loan Huddersfield player produced a cultured display.
McCall said: "He got off to a good start, a great effort which everyone thought was in from the bench.
"He did a lot of good things, playing in a similar role to Murphy. We showed him clips of how Jamie had played up at Inverness, just in an area of a park we can try to exploit at times.
"He can play in that area just off the front and slightly to the left."
Higginbotham could potentially have competition for a place in the shape of James McFadden, although McCall played down expectations that the Scotland international could sign a contract after rejoining his former club for training.
When asked about McFadden, McCall said: "We have just won 3-0 and gone second top. James has been in training with us just like he was at the beginning of the season."
However, it is understood a more formal arrangement is a possibility and could suit both parties.
Motherwell are sure to get a lift on and off the park from the return of McFadden, who netted 32 goals for the club as a teenager, and the 29-year-old needs games to rejuvenate his career after making just three substitute appearances in his short spell with Sunderland.
Meanwhile, Inverness goalkeeper Ryan Esson vowed they would bounce back after their fifth defeat in six games.
Not for the first time in recent weeks, events conspired against Caley Thistle. Andrew Shinnie had a goal ruled out for offside when he followed up Aaron Doran's saved shot, moments before Higdon's opener.
Esson said: "We know how good a team we are. We wouldn't be where we are if we weren't a good team.
"Anybody that's writing us off is underestimating us and the character that we've got.
"You don't do some of the things we have done this year - (coming back from) 2-0 down at Hibs, 2-0 at Hearts with 10 men, 3-0 down at Dundee United - you don't do comebacks like that and not have character in your team.
"The boys are together, there is a good team spirit and we are positive."
Terry headed the fourth goal in a 4-0 win as Chelsea reached the fifth round of the FA Cup.
A report today claimed Terry and Benitez clashed earlier this month, but the captain branded it "rubbish" and said the two were on good terms.
"It was good to get on the scoresheet and good to be back," he told ITV.
"The manager knows me and I want to play. I have been out for two or three months (with a knee injury), but the other two (centre-backs) have been doing well.
"It's good to have competition."
Terry admitted that Chelsea found it tough to break down Brentford, with all four goals coming in the second half.
"They made it very difficult," he added. "(They had) two banks of four and sat very deep."
A brace from Chris Dagnall and a Marlon Harewood strike were enough to see off the Dons, who scored a consolation through Dean Bowditch and had Alan Smith sent off in injury time.
There was also a serious injury to Barnsley midfielder Kelvin Etuhu and an altercation between Tykes' boss David Flitcroft and an MK Dons supporter.
Steele was a member of the Barnsley team who reached the semi-finals of the competition in 2008 and he is hopeful they can reach that stage once more.
When asked if he believed the team were capable of replicating the performance of five years ago Steele said: "Definitely, I love the FA Cup like every player I'm sure does and should.
"It was a big match and the manager said before the game that we are fighting for a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and when someone says it out loud it hits you that you've been in the situation before."
A shock 2-1 win at Liverpool in the fifth round set Barnsley up for a quarter-final clash with Chelsea in 2008 and they upset the odds to reach a Wembley semi-final that they ultimately lost to Cardiff.
Steele reckons the win over MK Dons was just as important as the success at Anfield and said Barnsley did not underestimate their lower-league opponents.
He said: "It was as big as that because we are into the quarter finals and there are only eight teams left, it is a marvellous challenge.
"Whoever we get it is not an issue, I was pleased with the last draw - coming here was still a massive challenge but the manager drilled it into us that we couldn't let off.
"We were so professional today, we got the job done in the end and we really deserve to be in the hat."
Etuhu was stretchered off the pitch during the second half after an accidental clash of heads with MK Dons' Adam Chicksen.
Flitcroft said after the game that the image of Etuhu lying prone on the stretcher will 'haunt' him forever.
The Barnsley boss also confronted a fan who was aiming abuse at one of his players.
Flitcroft could not go into detail but said he was protecting his players and that a fellow MK Dons supporter had reported the abusive fan to the stewards, who promptly ejected him.
Both MK Dons and Barnsley released a joint statement later in the evening to clarify matters.
"The spectator in question has been interviewed by Police; currently Thames Valley Police have no evidence to suggest the alleged gesture was of a racist nature," the statement read. "MK Dons will continue to monitor footage of the area where the alleged incident took place.
"Barnsley Football Club has placed on record its thanks to MK Dons FC, the stewards and the police for their professional and efficient handling of the situation.
"Both Barnsley Football Club and MK Dons Football Club are committed to making football a family-friendly environment and will not tolerate abusive or aggressive behaviour of any nature."
MK Dons manager Karl Robinson was left aggrieved by the sending-off of Smith and confirmed that he will look to appeal against the decision of referee Michael Jones, who dismissed the former England international when he went into an aerial challenge with Rory Delap.
"With regards to Smithy's sending-off, the referee said to me that he was sent off for contact in the back of the head whereas I've seen it back on ITV and the contact is below the arm," he said.
"Rory Delap also said after the game that it wasn't even a free-kick. I'm going to appeal it."
The Easter Road outfit have been as high as second place in the SPL standings this term but a run of just two wins in 11 games saw them sink to fifth.
However, Saturday's 1-0 victory over St Mirren in Paisley - courtesy of Leigh Griffiths' second-half penalty - moves them back up to fourth and on course for Europa League qualification.
Done, a recent loan arrival from Barnsley, claims that lofty position will not be given up again so meekly this time.
The 24-year-old, who controversially won Hibs' spot-kick when he went down easily in the box as Saints skipper Jim Goodwin challenged him for a cross, said: "It's a funny old league now.
"We're up to fourth and it's in our hands now. We've just got to win every game we play and we are capable of that after today's performance."
The win at St Mirren Park followed Monday's abject display at home to St Johnstone which allowed the Perth men to march off with a 3-1 win.
Done, though, was relieved to see he and his team-mates put in a far better performance yesterday.
He said: "It was disappointing to lose on Monday and it's been a long week since. But we have worked hard the last few days on putting that right and we felt confident going into today.
"It showed throughout the game. We looked comfortable. On Monday, it was too easy for St Johnstone to attack against us. They seemed to get in every time they got the ball, which was worrying.
"It was night and day between the performances. The effort was there on Monday but it was over-enthusiastic and there was no thought behind what we were doing.
"Today was much, much better."
St Mirren, by contrast, suffered their first defeat in five matches and defender Marc McAusland was happy just to see the back of striker Griffiths.
Hibs have won all three of the clubs' meetings this season, with on-loan Wolves frontman Griffiths bagging all five of the Edinburgh outfit's goals.
McAusland said: "I'm sick of the sight of him. He's scored a few against us this season and won them the game twice here at St Mirren Park now. So he's not on my mates list or anything like that now."