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Giantkilling? Carling Cup? Surely not….

Sunderland, Wigan and Derby have all crashed out of the Carling Cup at the first round of asking. Giantkilling may imply actual ‘giants’ have exited the cup and although the three aformentioned teams may not qualify as ‘giants’, the fact that Luton, Blackpool and Hull City were the three teams who qualified at their expense thus gives credence to the term ‘giantkilling’. Premiership teams have been accused of undervaluing the Carling Cup in recent years and Derby rested several first team players, clearly shattered from their four games so far this term, and Blackpool took full advantage. Now I can understand why these teams would perhaps choose to rest players and give fringe players an opportunity to shine. However Derby would surely be better off getting their first win of the season? Getting their ‘big’ players into their groove and giving the home fans something to shout about? That said, the visit of Liverpool this Saturday may have been of greater concern. Sunderland and Wigan rested players (but not many) and those that played should have been more than capable of winning the games against weaker opposition. Wigan manager Chris Hutchings had spoken before the game about Wigan wanting to win the Cup, a sentiment thefc100 loves to hear from teams expected to struggle in the Premiership, and yet 24 hours later, the FA Cup is all Wigan can look forward to beyond the Premiership this term.

Sunderland have struggled so far this term, injury-time goals not withstanding, and would have hoped to secure a safe passage through to round three. However, Luton, riding high in League One’s coveted fourth place, sent them packing and Greg Halford’s dismissal in the second half was the cherry on Roy Keane’s mud pie. And that pie went straight into Keano’s face after the manager left out Craig Gordon. The Scottish international who was outstanding in Sunderland’s defeat to Liverpool last weekend, made way for Darren Ward who was picking the ball out of the net after just quarter of an hour. That said, credit must go to Luton who faced Chopra, Murphy and Stokes in a three-pronged attack and clearly overran their Premiership opponents in midfield as a result.

Wigan also fielded a strong line-up but came undone at the JJB Stadium when Hull took advantage of Titus Bramble’s relegation to the bench to make it through to the next round. Hull didn’t even need 52-year old Dean Windass for the ninety minutes, seeing fit to bring him on as a late substitute when older heads were needed to see out the tie. Elsewhere a special word of praise goes to Morecambe who knocked out Wolves at Molineux, winning by three goals to one after extra-time. Morecambe, sitting eleventh in league two, knocked out Preston in the first round and followed that up with another shock win tonight and must now be considered the ‘form team’ going into round three.

Elsewhere, Villa trounced Wrexham by five goals to nil. Lucky we didn’t predict them as possible giantkillers eh? Eh? (We also fancied Bristol Rovers to take West Ham but er… https://thefc100.wordpress.com/2007/08/17/carling-cup-second-round-draw/). West Ham saw off Bristol Rovers with a brace from Craig Bellamy. Alas, it’s never that simple for the Hammers though, Kieron Dyer suffered a suspected broken leg after a whopping elevn minutes of frenetic action. Reports that Lee Bowyer was involved have yet to be confirmed. Fulham and Reading recorded 1-0 wins over Shrewsbury and Swansea while Birmingham and Portsmouth saw off Hereford and Leeds 2-1 and 3-0 respectively.

On a more serious note, Leicester City defender Clive Clarke collapsed at half-time of their Carling Cup tie with Nottingham Forest which Forest led 1-0 at the break. Clarke, on loan from Sunderland, was rushed to hospital and Leicester chief executive Tim Davies confirmed that the young Irishman was ‘very seriously ill’. After Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta died on Tuesday morning following similar circumstances in Sevilla’s weekend fixture with Getafe, neither side was intent on finishing the match and both sides agreed to the postponement of the tie, to be replayed at a later date.

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