There were two FA Cup games on tonight with Championship side Crystal Palace hosting Wolves and Premiership Wigan playing host to Notts County, both in Fourth Round replays.
The pick of the pair was the Crystal Palace game. At Molineux these two sides had drawn 2-2 to force this replay and Aston Villa awaited the victors for a Fifth round tie. Many were hoping, and indeed expecting, a win for Palace, because despite being in the league below their opponents Wolves, their recent form – added to home advantage – had made them the favorites in the betting.
The fans were in good spirits as this game got underway and a lively atmosphere buzzed around Selhurst Park, with the stewards having to clear away some balloons just as the game kicked off.
Palace began the better of the two with Darren Ambrose showing his intent by striking twice in the opening fifteen minutes, although neither shot tested the ‘keeper. The game then turned into a midfield battle with disputes over fouls and a weak penalty decision dominating the action.
Alan Lee took a nasty knock for Palace ten minutes before the break. The collision was accidental but the gash just above the player’s eye was certainly not pretty. This wound typified the half, which was a forty-five minute battle between two evenly matched sides. Carle came close to opening the scoring for the home team with a few minutes to go but his shot was dragged wide, and some bad luck in the Palace defensive nearly allowed Wolves through but the Goalkeeper cleared well and they went into the break at 0-0.
Darren Ambrose was the man of action again for Palace just seconds into the second half. The midfield maestro struck a decent free-kick from thirty yards or so but his shot was easily saved by the Goalkeeper. Just three minutes later he took another free-kick from the same position but this time it flew wide.
Palace finally got the goal they deserved on the hour mark, a corner was drifted in and ‘keeper Hennessey saved well from a fierce header, but the ball fell kindly to Butterfield who nodded in from just a few yards out to put the home team 1-0 up.
That was Butterfield’s first goal in a year but it clearly gave him some confidence as just a three minutes later he latched onto a pass from Ambrose and slid the ball past Hennessey again, making it 2-0. A few minutes later the Wolves defense seem to go to pieces, a big boot up field from the Palace Goalkeeper was flicked on by Lee and as the defenders struggled to clear it Butterfield nipped around the back of them and slotted the ball in for a superb hat-trick, and one that only took him seven minutes to complete. The hat-trick was also a “perfect hat-trick”, with goals coming from his right foot, left foot and his head. An amazing achievement for someone who hadn’t scored in a year before this game.
The game unsurprisingly faded after the third goal as Wolves admitted defeat and Palace looked to control possession whilst their fans enjoyed the huge scoreline and the inevitable victory over Premier League opposition.
Henry smashed in a great consolation goal for Wolves on ninety minutes but it was too little too late for the away side who were beaten 3-1.
In the other FA Cup Fourth round replay Wigan were playing at home to Notts County who are three leagues below them. Notts County surprised everyone in the first leg when they went 2-0 up against their Premiership counterparts, but eventually Wigan came back at them and fought out a 2-2 draw to force a replay at the DW Stadium.
No one expected Notts County to do anything away to Wigan today but a shock was on the cards. The away side took the lead with just fifteen minutes left to play when Stephen Hunt grabbed a headed goal. Shortly after that Gary Caldwell put the ball into his own net to give the minnows a 2-0 lead which they held onto. Knocking Wigan out of the cup and advancing into the next round.