BY STEVE MITCHELL
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY HOLD ARSENAL AT A FROZEN HILLSBOROUGH:
FA Cup third-round action was thin on the ground this afternoon as the freezing conditions all but wiped out one of footballâ€™s most eagerly anticipated weekends of the season.
One of the most enticing ties of the round however did take place at Hillsborough, as last seasonâ€™s beaten finalists Arsenal visited Third Division Sheffield Wednesday. Gunners boss Terry Neill was unhappy that the game was given the green-light by referee Eric Read after volunteers had worked overnight to clear the playing surface of snow.
Despite their efforts, the pitch was still hard in places as players opted to wear a shortened stud. Neillâ€™s opposite number Jack Charlton was delighted that the contest was given the go ahead with the former England centre-half sensing that his side had a real chance of causing an upset.Embed from Getty Images
The side from the capital were back in the city where their run to Wembley commenced 12 months ago and they settled the better in the difficult conditions. Arsenal almost took an early lead when a corner from Liam Brady found the head of his Republic of Ireland team-mate Frank Stapleton, but his effort was cleared off the line by Dave Rushbury.
The visitors didnâ€™t have to wait long much longer however, when a free-kick on the right was beautifully floated in from skipper Pat Rice for Yorkshireman Alan Sunderland to head home after nine minutes.
Sunderland almost doubled his tally shortly after but his turn and shot was bravely saved by young Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Turner. He surpassed that later in the half when he made a brilliant point-blank stop from Stapleton who in truth should have buried the ball inside the Wednesday net.
That let-off seemed to galvanise the home side and it certainly stirred the home fans, who greeted Arsenal keeper Pat Jenningsâ€™ arrival in front of the Kop at the start of the second-half with a barrage of snow balls which forced Wednesday boss Jack Charlton onto the field to ask for calm.
This seemed to unsettle the Gunners and the hosts were level inside the opening minute when hesitation in the Arsenal back-line saw Jeff Johnson slot home to bring the underdogs right back into the contest. Wednesday thought they had then got their noses in front but Jennings pulled off a great save from Roger Wylde.
Arsenal almost got back in front soon after but a Steve Gatting shot looked like it was pushed behind by Turner although referee Read gave a goal-kick. Rushbury retaliated for Wednesday but his effort fizzed just wide of Jenningsâ€™ goal with the game balanced on a knife-edge.
Gunners midfielder David Price fluffed his lines when presented with a great opportunity by Sunderland as the visitors sensed they could get the tie done and dusted at the first attempt. The home side hung on however, and at the end of a gripping 90 minutes, deserved another chance at Highbury on Tuesday evening.
Sheffield Wednesday: Turner, Blackhall, Rushbury, Smith, Mullen, Johnson, Wylde, Porterfield, Leman, Lowey, Hornsby
Arsenal: Jennings, Rice, Walford, Price, Oâ€™Leary, Young, Brady, Sunderland, Stapleton, Gatting, Rix
We asked fans who were around at the time to share their memories on Social Media;
I remember Pat Jennings getting snowballed at Hillsborough. Also one of the Sheff Wed players had been an Arsenal player was it Brian Hornsby. Chris Turner played in his first spell for Wednesday.
â€” 1970s Football (@andv66) December 14, 2017
Pat Jennings getting snowballed!
â€” Charles Ducksbury (@cducksbury) December 14, 2017
Hornsby was instrumental in all of the games, but look at Arsenalâ€™s teams against us, always full strength. Brady Stapleton etc. It was only in the last game that we just ran out of steam.
â€” Tim Ducksbury (@timducks) December 14, 2017
FA CUP ROUND-UP:
Apart from the match at Hillsborough, only three other third-round ties beat the weather and one of these, Stoke City vs. Oldham Athletic, was abandoned at half-time, a decision that infuriated Potters boss Alan Durban whose side were leading 2-0.
At Filbert Street, Second Division Leicester Cityâ€™s inflatable pitch cover worked wonders once again and the home side ran out comfortable 3-0 winners against First Division Norwich City thanks to goals from Larry May, Keith Weller and Martin Henderson.Embed from Getty Images
The only other tie to take place was at Gay Meadow were Shrewsbury Town saw off the challenge of Cambridge City. Goals from Maguire, Turner and Chapman put the home side in command, Alan Biley grabbing a consolation for the visitors.
FA CUP THIRD-ROUND RESULTS:
Leicester City 3-0 Norwich City (May, Weller, Henderson)
Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Arsenal (Johnson; Sunderland)
Shrewsbury Town 3-1 Cambridge United (Maguire, Turner, Chapman; Biley)
Stoke City 2-0 Oldham Athletic (Irvine 2 â€“ match abandoned at half-time)
REARRANGED THIRD ROUND TIES:
TUESDAY JANUARY 9:
Birmingham City v Burnley
Brighton & Hove Albion v Wolves
Bristol City v Bolton Wanderers (FULL MATCH PROGRAMME BELOW)
Charlton Athletic v Maidstone United
Coventry City v W.B.A
Darlington v Colchester United
Fulham v Q.P.R
Middlesbrough v Crystal Palace
Newport County v West Ham United
Notts County v Reading
Leyton Orient v Bury
Sheffield United v Aldershot
Swindon Town v Cardiff City
Wimbledon v Southampton
York City v Luton Town
THIRD ROUND REPLAY
Arsenal v Sheffield Wednesday
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 10:
Ipswich Town v Carlisle United
Millwall v Blackburn Rovers
Nottingham Forest v Aston Villa
Southend v Liverpool
Sunderland v Everton
Tottenham Hotspur v Altrincham
MONDAY JANUARY 15:
Manchester City v Rotherham United
Manchester United v Chelsea
TUESDAY JANUARY 16:
Newcastle United v Torquay United
Preston North End v Derby County
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 16:
Stoke City v Oldham Athletic
FRIDAY JANUARY 18:
Hartlepool United v Leeds United
FOLLOW THE WHOLE 1978-79 SEASON IN THE ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION WITH STEVE MITCHELL HERE ON THE FOOTBALL PINK. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @barafundler
PROGRAMMES COURTESY OF MILES MCCLAGAN https://www.flickr.com/photos/114058793@N05/sets