FIRST, before we get down to business, an apology. I may have given the impression in this blog on Friday that Bury didn’t have a lemon meringue ice cream’s chance in hell of coming back from Norwich with anything other than a heavy defeat and some nice sandwiches.
I may also have mocked the journalistic colleague who talked about attending the replay of this tie.
Well, to Bury and to the journalist in question, my sincerest apologies. It turns out, not for the first time, that I didn’t have the faintest clue what I was talking about.
Having featured last on Match of the Day’s FA Cup goals round up once already this season, there was no way Bury were going to be selected for that honour again after their 1-1 draw at Carrow Road.
Nor did Middlesbrough bring up the rear after their 2-1 win at Bristol City, despite this slightly tart exchange between manager Gareth Southgate and commentator Simon Brotherton during the post-match interview:
Brotherton: Nice to not be facing the sort of headlines you know some people will have been waiting for.
Southgate: Well, I’m assuming we’ll be a lot later in your programme than we would have been if we’d lost.
Not quite in Phil Neville’s league, Gareth, but not bad. Not bad at all.
And yet again, Tony Gubba also avoided being on last, despite magically developing the ability to be omnipotent by commentating on two games simultaneously.
Gubba commentated on Ipswich v Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon for overseas viewers (a commentary not broadcast in Britain), yet was able to commentate on Everton v Oldham for Match of the Day.
(Oh look, I know he did both commentaries from a studio, but with so many other people getting het up about TV fakery these days, I thought I might at least join in.)
And yet despite the Gubba factor, neither of those games were on last either.
Amid all the upsets, near upsets and outrageous refereeing decisions, there were only two goalless draws in Saturday’s third-round ties. One of them was the all-Premier League clash between West Ham and Manchester City, which at least had a bit of controversy (Martin Petrov clearly upended by Anton Ferdinand, the referee deciding not to give a penalty). The other goalless draw didn’t even have that.
Last night’s final match: Walsall 0 Millwall 0. Reporter: Ivan Gaskell.
“If you’re a Walsall or a Millwall fan, someone had to be last,” said Gabby Logan. “It’s nothing personal, OK?”
No argument, really. Even a report lasting just 22 seconds needed footage of a wild shot into the crowd from Walsall’s Rhys Weston to pad it out. Imagine what it would have been like sitting through the full 90 minutes?
(If you really want to know, why not go to the replay? It’s a week on Tuesday – January 15 – kick off 7.45pm.)
1=. Fulham: 5 (Gubba difference: +1)
1=. Reading: 5 (GD: +1)
3. Derby: 5 (GD: 0)
4. Wigan: 4 (GD: +1)
5. Birmingham: 4 (GD: 0)
6. Bolton: 3 (GD: +1)
7=. Aston Villa: 3 (GD: 0)
7=. West Ham: 3 (GD: 0)
9. Gubba: 2
10=. Chelsea: 2 (GD: 0)
10=. Sunderland: 2 (GD: 0)
12=. Everton: 1
12=. Middlesbrough: 1
12=. Newcastle: 1
12=. Portsmouth: 1
12=. Bury: 1
12=. Workington: 1
12=. Huddersfield: 1
12=. Grimsby: 1
12=. Walsall: 1
12=. Millwall: 1
(NB. Where teams are level, positions are decided by Gubba Difference; the number of times a team is on Match of the Day last with Tony Gubba commentating.)