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Football: Potters to spring surprise but curtains for Canvey.

Byline: Paul Jonhson

Barnsley v Blackburn

Barnsley may fancy their chances of an upset in this Roses battle, given they are unbeaten in seven since the end of November, but they were thwarted at Oakwell by struggling Grimsby in midweek.

Blackburn, surprisingly sparing with David Dunn recently, are without the ineligible Andy Cole and have lost six of their last seven Premiership games, so they can reasonably be resisted at odds-on.1-1

Burnley v Canvey Island

Can Canvey can complete a hat-trick of league scalps after 1-0 wins over Wigan and Northampton?

Nope. The Clarets made a favourable impression even though losing heavily at Manchester City a week ago at the end of a ten-match unbeaten streak. 2-0

Charlton v Blackpool

Curbs and Addicks' fans will be taking nothing for granted after coming within a hair's breadth of humiliation at the hands of non-league Dagenham at this stage of the competition last year.

But they can take comfort from the fact the Seasiders haven't won away in the league since September and have flogged off the family silver in the shape of Brett Ormerod. 2-0

Cheltenham v Oldham

An evenly balanced affair and priced up accordingly by the layers.

Oldham have lost just one of 12 since Mick Wadsworth took charge but are without loan striker David Reeves and defenders Dean Holden and Chris Armstrong.

Cheltenham, strong and industrious, have lost only once at home all season and a rematch at Ice Station Zebra may be required to settle the issue. 1-1

Dag & Red v Ipswich

Town manager George Burley gave the impression he hadn't witnessed anything his team couldn't cope with when guest pundit for the Daggers' 3-0 replay win over Exeter in the last round.

However, it's clear that his side will have to defend better than they did when squandering an early two-goal lead in the new year defeat at Charlton.

Dagenham should be able to concentrate on more pressing matters like winning the Conference after this. 1-2

Derby v Bristol Rovers

There may be slightly better times ahead for Rovers under enthusiastic Garry Thompson but not tomorrow when they are missing players against a side who are booked for the drop but are essentially solid home performers, notwithstanding the midweek defeat by Fulham. 2-0

Grimsby v York

Paul Groves, who has kicked off his stint as player-manager of the Mariners with a win and a draw, has a golden opportunity for some more

kudos.

His team may not survive their relegation battle but they are a cut above the Minstermen, who must have turned the air blue when they saw what was their reward for beating Reading in the last round. 1-0

Leicester v Mansfield

The Foxes are in a fix and it would be a brave soul who would want to get involved in any serious money-buying, even though the visitors are only the Third Division Stags.

Maybe this will be some welcome light relief for the

Premiership strugglers, who

already reek of relegation,

but there's no Matt Elliott to police Chris Greenacre. 2-1

Liverpool v Birmingham

The Scousers are slumping and, apart from their over-

reliance on Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard, it's worrying that they have lost the knack of keeping clean sheets.

Birmingham's winning sequence was brought to an end by a Darren Ward-inspired Forest at the new year and, while they are capable of making life difficult for their hosts, they aren't quite up to taking revenge for last season's Worthington Cup Final defeat by the Reds on penalties in Cardiff. 2-0

Man City v Swindon

Town chairman Willie Carson, always a good judge of form in his days as a jockey, will know this should be a home banker, as City's goal power has proved all too much for far better sides than Swindon and they have also developed that useful trick of winning irrespective of whether they play well. 4-0

Millwall v Scunthorpe

The Lions scotched their manager's notion they were exhausted by drubbing Watford at Vicarage Road in midweek and are a team on an upward curve. The Iron are no mugs and turned over Brentford in the last round, but this is a bridge too far for them. 3-0

Newcastle v Crystal Palace

The Geordies didn't quite do themselves justice at Old Trafford on Wednesday but there's enough quality in their line-up for them to bounce back against Palace.

The Eagles ended a lean spell under new boss Trevor Francis when winning at

Bradford a week ago but, even at their most slovenly,

Newcastle make a better fist of defending than the

Bantams ever do. 3-1

Norwich v Chelsea

The Blues can be slipshod when forced to mix it with teams they regard as lesser mortals but the Cup tends to focus their minds and they survived a trip to Gillingham last year before bowing out to

Arsenal.

Norwich are in my bad books after their midweek failure to beat Walsall, one of the worst away sides around, at Carrow Road and the stats tell us they aren't so defensively sound as they were. 0-2

Portsmouth v Leyton Orient

Pompey, who lost five out of six last month, are unbackable at the moment but then so are their lower-league visitors, who seem to be recapturing that old Orient tradition of

being rubbish on the road. Not a game to dwell on. 2-1

Sheffield United v

Nottingham Forest

Two of the division's draw specialists lock horns here. Both have finished deadlocked in 11 of their 28 league outings and guess what the outcome of their clash on the opening day of the season at the City Ground was? A scoreline hopefully to be repeated today, that's what. 1-1

Stoke v Everton

The table-topping Potters have left many a neutral cold but they have lost only one of their last 18 league starts and victory for them here could mean curtains for visiting boss Walter Smith.

Everton, plagued by injuries, particularly to their strikers, are a pitiful shadow of the club that won titles and Cups in the mid-eighties and have lost six of their last seven in the Premiership.

The Toffees make a habit of wriggling off the hook but Ladbrokes smell blood and go only 9-5 compared to the juicy 5-2 elsewhere. 1-0

Sunderland v West Brom

Although Peter Reid declared himself much happier after Tuesday's 1-1 home draw with Villa, the overriding impression of the Black Cats this season has not been at all favourable.

Master marksman Kevin Phillips remains the one shining light in a team of mediocrity, despite having his sleep disrupted by the cries of new-born bairns, but nobody boasts a better First Division defence than the Baggies and they have good replay prospects. 0-0

Wolves v Gillingham

The Gills have been in much better form recently but Wolves may find this less stressful than the weekly chore of collecting promotion points. Hardly a pulse-quickening betting medium though. 3-2

Wycombe v Fulham

One of only three English clubs yet to lose at home in the league, the Chairboys thrilled the footballing world by reaching the semi-finals last year when they went down by the odd goal in three to eventual winners Liverpool.

Fulham will need to add an end product to their pretty

approach play, as their hosts have failed to score in only one of their last 20. 1-3

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 5, 2002
Words:1234
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