Premiership cherry

Wednesday 9 January 2002

Wycombe manager Lawrie Sanchez claimed Fulham "got out of jail" after Steve Marlet's late goal salvaged an FA Cup third round replay for the Premiership side.

The Chairboys repeated the heroics that saw them reach last season's semi-final but Sanchez admitted his side face a tough task in the rematch at Craven Cottage.

Sanchez said:"I'm pleased with what the boys have done, but you usually only get one hit at a Premiership side."

Wycombe came within three minutes of booking a fourth round tie against either Grimsby or York when Marlet's header repaid a large slice of his £11.5m transfer fee.

The home side had battled back to overturn Sylvain Legwinski's opener with a Steve Brown penalty and a goal from Jermaine McSporran.

The Chairboys now face a trip to Craven Cottage next Tuesday and Sanchez said: "I don't want to be pessimistic.

"When you have been 2-1 up against a Premiership side at home you have to be disappointed when you let such a late goal in.

"I'm downbeat now but I'll be upbeat by time the replay comes along.
"We stopped them passing and I've never seen Fulham hit as many long balls in my life.

"McSporran caused them all sorts of problems. He got the penalty and then scored himself.

"I always thought his pace would frighten them to death. He should be playing at a higher level and I'm sure he would be if he played like that every week."

The one sour note to a tense and dramatic game was a two-footed tackle from Danny Senda which felled Fulham striker Barry Hayles in the dying seconds.

Sanchez agreed with Fulham manager Jean Tigana's claim that Senda's tackle could have produced a red card.

Sanchez admitted: "It was very rash. He was lucky the referee didn't send him off."

Tigana denied that Fulham had underestimated the Division Two side. He said: "The players knew what to expect. They knew from the results Wycombe had last year.

"I had spoken with Gerard Houllier about how big a problem it was to win against this team.

"I respect them. We had the same preparation as always. Sometimes the small teams play at the top level and sometimes the professionals don't have a good focus.

"We get games like this all the time in France. Last year you had Amiens in the final and the year before Calais."

The Cottagers' boss underlined Marlet's importance to his team.

He said: "I'm glad Marlet scored, it was a very important goal."

Marlet is continuing his comeback following three months out with a fractured kneecap and Tigana said: "He needs another month to be at his best.

"He has been out for two months but he is good for the team."