Final? why not?

Saturday 16 February 2002

A somewhat quirky Cup-tie at the Bescot Stadium saw Fulham eventually convert their superior possession into a victory after Barry Hayles scored a magnificent winner.

With Fulham taking the lead after a Steed Malbranque free kick forced the Saddlers into a terrible own-goal blunder. Edwin Van der Sar's equally erroneous contribution allowed Walsall back into the game.

With lady luck having dealt misfortune evenly to both sides, it was left to Barry Hayles to score the only 'proper' goal of the tie.

Despite Fulham's territorial advantage, manager Jean Tigana admitted that he was by no means sitting comfortably in the dug out.

"When they came back to equalise I was a little bit worried. The FA Cup is always a difficult competition to win as there is so much passion in the games."

With the Whites being the first team through to the quarter-finals, no doubt the FA Cup will start to set many a heart around Craven Cottage racing. But Tigana was quick to put matters into perspective.

"My priority is to stay in top level and play teams like Manchester United and Chelsea. But if we can go all the way in the competition, why not."