Thu, Nov 09, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Freddy the fan scuppers Red Devils' cup campaign


Alex Ferguson's third decade in charge of Manchester United has got off to the worst possible start -- and it's all down to a fervent Red Devils fan.

A wonderful free-kick from Freddy Eastwood mid-way through the first half was enough to give struggling Championship outfit Southend an unlikely 1-0 victory at Roots Hall, and the died-in-the-wool United fan was not about to apologize to Fergie for wrecking his anniversary celebrations, a day after the Scot celebrated 20 years in charge at Old Trafford.

"I'm a Man U fan and to play them was unbelievable," the Southend striker said. "Cup games are hard and obviously they found that out. I fancied my chances from the free-kick and as soon as I hit it I knew it was in."

Although they had to rely on a superb performance from goalkeeper Darryl Flahavan, Southend produced a performance that belied their current position as the side propping up the Championship, 43 places below United in the English soccer hierarchy.

Flahavan said he had been prepared for a busy night against a United side that started with 10 full internationals on the pitch.

"We knew we would be under pressure and all the lads defended brilliantly," the goalkeeper said. "When we saw the side they put out we knew we were in for a game."

"I'm pleased to make the saves and we're looking forward to the next round. This might be a confidence-booster for us to pick ourselves up," he added.

Manager Steve Tilson admitted he had been pessimistic at the start of the match before watching his players serve up the best result of his career.

"To be honest, I just wanted to keep the score down but we grew in confidence and could have nicked another one at the end," he said.

United's Premiership rivals Charlton and Newcastle both survived, but only after edging penalty shoot-outs.

But Southend were joined in the last eight of the tournament by minnows Wycombe, who overcame fellow League Two outfit Notts County 1-0 courtesy of Jermaine Easter's strike three minutes after the interval.

League One side Chesterfield took Charlton to the brink of humiliation after veteran striker Wayne Allison, 38, rounded the scoreline off at 3-3 with just seconds of extra-time left.

Chesterfield had led twice in regulation time but could not complete a hat-trick of top flight scalps in this year's competition following wins over Manchester City and West Ham in previous rounds.

On-loan goalkeeper Scott Carson was Charlton's hero, diving to his left to keep out Chesterfield captain Mark Allott's effort with Chesterfield's final spot-kick.

That gave Hermann Hreidarsson the chance to wrap things up and the Icelandic striker made no mistake with his left-foot strike.

It was an equally stressful night for Newcastle, who had looked set to go out to fellow Premiership strugglers Watford before captain Scott Parker scored to make it 2-2 with just four minutes of extra time left.

Glenn Roeder's side went on to win a nervy penalty shoot-out 5-4.

Having been given an almighty fright by Crewe in the previous round, Manchester United were taking no chances against Southend.

Both Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo were on duty in the Essex seaside town against opponents who had not won in the league since the middle of August.

That record did not dampen the enthusiasm of the 11,500 capacity crowd that turned out to see if their local club could reach the last eight for the first time in its history.

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