Sunday, January 8, 2006

United drew with Burton Albion 0-0

In a surprising result, a semi-pro team called Burton Albion (that includes a physiotherapist, a sports shop assistant and a builder), held Manchester United to a 0-0 tie on Sunday in the third round of the FA Cup.

Despite Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo played for the last 30 minutes, Manchester United fielded a backup side at the 6,000-seat Pirelli Stadium against a Burton side ranked 105 places below the Reds.

England Forward Wayne Rooney had two strikes saved by Albion goalkeeper Saul Deeney, who also stooped a goalbound drive from Ritchie Jones in injury time.

''Old Trafford here we come,'' said Deeney, who has nine brothers, seven of them Manchester United fans.

Nigel Clough's Burton will go to 67,000-seat Old Trafford in a really lucrative replay.

''It was a staggering game,'' thinks Clough, whose father Brian led Nottingham Forest to back-to-back European Cup triumphs in 1979 and '80. ''Playing against Manchester United in a replay, it's absolutely superb for everyone.''

In other matches on Sunday, Leyton Orient from English soccer's fourth tier upset Fulham of the Premier League 2-1 while Toronto's Paul Stalteri scored for Tottenham in a 3-2 loss to Leicester. Sunderland shut out Northwich 3-0.

Manchester coach Sir Alex Ferguson said he was relieved his team didn't lose.

''It's a sudden-death cup. With a difficult pitch, committed opponents, I think these things can happen,'' Ferguson made his point. ''You can get shocks. It's good that we didn't get a severe shock.''

Last season, Manchester United drew 0-0 with non-league Exeter before winning the replay and going on to lose the final against Arsenal on penalties.