Gardner hails Wickham progress

Goalkeeper David Stockdale is ‘confident’ Fulham will avoid an

FA Cup upset when they travel to Blackpool for their third-round


The Cottagers came within 10 minutes of being dumped out of the

competition on their own patch on Saturday but Giorgos Karagounis’

sensational equaliser denied the Championship club a famous


Stockdale, who avoided a repeat of his horror show in his last

home game against Swansea, said: “We were going for it a bit more

so we got caught a few times. We might have been more patient, but

I’m confident going up there as well.

“They will fancy their chances up there but we have to play the

same way with the same attitude. I think the goals will then


Stockdale insists Fulham should have sealed a place in the

fourth round at the first time of asking.

The 27-year-old said: “We dominated the game but a silly bit of

defending cost us. We had a enough crosses and chances to get more

out of it.

“It wasn’t to be be but we have to keep the faith. Blackpool was

never going to be walkover.”

Robin van Persie came off the bench to net a sublime equaliser

in stoppage time against the Hammers as United salvaged a 2-2 draw

from a thrilling FA Cup third-round tie at Upton Park.

“It was a great performance from the lads and it is a real shame

they didn’t get us through at the first time of asking,” Allardyce


“But we are still in the draw after a fantastic performance on

the back of a very good [league] win over Norwich.

“I hope our bad run is now over and, if we continue to keep

performances like this going, we will continue to get results.”

Brazilian side Cruzeiro claim forward Wellington Paulista will

join West Ham on a loan deal, which would further bolster

Allardyce’s attacking options following the move for Marouane

Chamakh on a six-month contract from Arsenal.

“We are searching for players, but at this time of year an agent

will ring me up, or he will contact the chairman and the next

minute they ring the papers and say we are going to buy someone,”

said Allardyce.

“That happens throughout the window so until we have got one

having a medical or nearly clinched then we will be linked with

another 150 players between now and January 31.”

David Moyes and his side of internationals head to the Cotswolds

to face a team fourth in League Two in front of a 7,000 sell-out

crowd and the ESPN cameras in what is the first-ever competitive

senior meeting between the clubs.

And Yates, whose Robins have one of the best home records in the

division, is not content with thoughts of a few good memories and

some positive exposure for the club.

“We won’t be going out there saying ‘let’s just enjoy it and

let’s take a 2-0 defeat’ and be happy with that,” he said.

“We will go out there having planned and prepared properly and

make sure the players do all they can to make sure we give

ourselves a chance.

“It is only 11 v 11 and yes, they are Premier League players,

but you never know.

“After 60 minutes if we are 3-0 down we might not believe quite

so much but right at this moment in time we have to believe we can

do something.

“The cup has got a tradition of shocks, so why not? We want to

cause a shock and we know that is a big task. But we know we have

the capabilities to do it.”

Le Fondre struck twice at the Broadfield Stadium as Reading

recovered from conceding a goal after just 14 seconds to end

Crawley’s dreams of another cup adventure.

The League One side reached the fifth round in each of the last

two seasons and they made the perfect start with a 25-yard strike

from the impressive Nicky Adams.

At that point Le Fondre feared the worst. Reading, with just one

victory from 10 matches, could have panicked at the prospect of

being the victim of an FA Cup upset.

But they did not. Le Fondre drew Reading level and then sealed

the victory from the penalty spot after strike partner Noel Hunt

had put the Royals ahead.

The challenge now is to take that composure and the momentum of

two wins from three matches – following their home victory over

West Ham – into next weekend’s Premier League clash with West


“It gives everyone a boost. It builds us a little bit of

momentum towards next week when we’ve got West Brom at home,” Le

Fondre said.

“We want to get momentum and take it on to our Premier League


“I think we can build on this as a team. It gives us a lot of

confidence as a squad and a lot of momentum going into the West

Brom and Newcastle games.

“A few players were rested but we’ve come in and done a job.

That’s what the main thing is for the whole squad – we’re in it

together and will take this on to the Premier League.

“Crawley made it hard for us but we regained our calmness (after

they scored). That was the main thing.

“We’ve shown great character in all the games we’ve played in

and this was no different.

“We stuck to our game plan, got the ball wide, got our wingers

on it, got the ball in the box and me and Hunty took care of that


Crawley manager Richie Barker was envious at the striking talent

available to Reading, who brought both Le Fondre and Hunt into the

starting line-up after a busy Christmas schedule.

But Barker is also realistic. He fears players like Adams could

be snapped up in the January transfer window and he took a pop at

the expectations held by some of the club’s supporters.

After Reading had taken control of the game, a section of the

fans at one end began to chant at Barker to ‘sort it out’.

Barker said: “You can’t educate some people, can you? I will do

the best I can and one day when I’ve gone, a bit like my old club

(Bury), people will realise how well I did.

“The expectations (among some supporters) are ridiculous.

“We have given a Premiership team a real good go. We created

enough chances to be ahead but their goalkeeper pulled off two or

three really good saves.

“To put their goalkeeper under as much pressure as we did, for a

League One team against a Premier League side, speaks volumes about

the players.

“I thought we would create something every time we went forward.

Their quality in the final third defined the fact we were a goal

down at half-time. Adam Le Fondre and Hunt are good players.”

Reading manager Brian McDermott, who has the support of his

side’s fans despite their struggles at the bottom of the Premier

League, backed Barker.

“Sometimes you have to remember where you have come from and in

a short space of time how well Crawley have done,” McDermott


The 19-year-old winger made his debut for the Northern Premier

League Division One South side as a substitute in their 3-3 draw at

Mickleover Sports on Saturday.

Waddle, who was handed a one-year professional contract at the

League Two club at the end of last season, was recently made

available for transfer by Spireites boss Paul Cook.

Norwich went into Saturday’s third-round tie at London Road on

the back of four successive losses in the league over Christmas and

New Year but eased to a comfortable 3-0 win despite Hughton making

eight changes.

The Canaries resume their league campaign on Saturday with a

home match against out-of-form Newcastle, while they now have a

fourth-round tie to look forward to later this month.

Hughton said: “Although they’ve been very tight games, we were

on the back of four defeats so, irrespective of what the next game

was, it’s one you want to win.

“We want to stay in the cup for as long as possible and I think

you can gain confidence when you are able to use the squad and see

good attitudes.”

Of the team that started last Tuesday’s defeat by West Ham, only

Russell Martin, Ryan Bennett and Robert Snodgrass kept their


Snodgrass was the standout player but Elliott Bennett and Simeon

Jackson both took a rare chance to impress up front with a goal

apiece, while Bennett created the third goal for Snodgrass.

Hughton said: “Considering both of them haven’t played as much

football as they would like, I thought they were good right through

the 90 minutes. They were a constant threat and gave us really good

options up front.”

Hughton has been reluctant to rotate his Premier League team and

he indicated the players who took their chance on Saturday may have

to wait for another.

“You never want to say no,” he said when asked if he had been

given a selection dilemma.

“We’ve had a fairly settled side but that’s why the players

train like they do and that’s why you want the competition.

“When you look at players like (Marc) Tierney and (David) Fox,

Elliott Bennett and Simeon, that haven’t had the football, you

wouldn’t have seen that because I thought they carried themselves

very well, looked very fit and had a lot of energy in their


“Of course the result is what you want but it’s the attitude and

the performance that pleased me the most.

“I think whatever the game was, I would have played the same

team. It’s about timing and we’ve also got a team that have played

a lot of games together. Those players deserved to play, and

they’ve put themselves very much in the frame for the next


The 19-year-old played a pivotal role coming off the bench in

helping the Black Cats recover a 2-0 deficit to force an FA Cup

third-round replay against Bolton.

Within three minutes of arriving the striker fired home from

close range and he continued to look a threat after Gardner had

smashed home the equaliser from long range.

“Connor is coming of age now,” said Gardner of the 6ft 2ins,

14-stone front man.

“He is getting mentally stronger and he knows where the net


“He is an absolute animal and he bullies people and that is what

he needs to do because he has a great future ahead of him.”

The draw at the Reebok Stadium prevented a third successive

defeat for Sunderland.

With their results in the Premier League being more down than up

this season Gardner admits their resilience has got them through


And he credited manager Martin O’Neill with inspiring the


“Bolton went 1-0 up through one of our errors and when they went

2-0 up you thought ‘Flipping hell’,” he added.

“But I keep going on about the spirit in the camp – and I’m

probably boring people – but it’s really important to have.

“At half-time we said ‘There’s 5,000 fans out there, let’s give

them something to go away with’ and it is massively important we

are in that hat.

“Things happen in cups which don’t normally happen in the league

but it’s okay because we’re still in there.

“We battled and battled and in the end we could have won it


“Everyone is behind each other and you could see the gaffer

loves the cup and he brings that to the players – everyone loves

the cup.

“It comes from the top, the gaffer. He is non-stop, he’s always

jumping around shouting.

“All you have to do is look at the touchline and see him jumping

up and down and it makes you want to dig deep.

“I have been with him for seven or eight years now, having also

been at Villa with him, and he is a top-class manager, he is


O’Neill, who named only six substitutes because of illness and

injury, had suggested before the match his players were tired after

a busy December.

But Gardner said that was no excuse and that a cup run, if they

could get on one, would take care of itself.

“It doesn’t matter how many games you play in the cup, your

momentum will get you through it,” he said.

“It is hard, don’t get me wrong. As a player it is really hard

playing seven or eight games in December but that is what we get

paid for.

“We can’t moan, we just have to get on with it.

“We have a small squad so hopefully the gaffer will bring in

some additions in January.

“It is a long season, especially when you stay in the cup, and

we need some more players to help us get through the season.”