Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Cameron Dawson saved two penalties inside the opening seven minutes in his side’s 4-0 FA Cup win against Cardiff.

Josh Windass fired the Owls ahead in the second minute in a whirlwind start to this third-round tie at Hillsborough before Dawson kept out quickfire spot-kicks from Ryan Wintle and Callum Robinson.

The 28-year-old keeper was in inspired form for his hometown club, pulling off a string of further saves to keep Cardiff at bay, while Romaine Sawyers’ own goal and Liam Palmer’s stunning volley put the Owls 3-0 up at half-time.

Cardiff squandered a long list of second-half chances and Owls substitute Mallik Wilks completed the scoring in added time.

The Owls, still in the bottom three, but enjoying a mini-revival after winning five of their last eight league matches, took the lead in the second minute.

Windass received a pass from Palmer outside the penalty area and arrowed a superb shot into Cardiff goalkeeper Jak Alnwick’s bottom right-hand corner.

Within the space of the next five minutes, Cardiff twice squandered chances to draw level from the spot to the delight of the home fans in a sparse 10,955-crowd.

Dawson saved Wintle’s fourth-minute penalty with an outstretched hand after Anthony Musaba’s foul on Andy Rinomhota.

The Bluebirds were then awarded another penalty by referee Thomas Kirk three minutes later when Kion Etete went down under Michael Ihiekwe’s challenge and this time Dawson flung himself to the left to keep out Robinson’s effort.

Cardiff spurned further first-half chances as Josh Bowler fired narrowly wide and Rubin Colwill had two efforts saved by Cameron and another blocked.

Wednesday doubled their lead in the 38th minute when Ihiekwe beat Alnwick to a corner and his thumping header was deflected in off Sawyers.

The Owls appeared to have put the tie to bed two minutes later with their third goal as Palmer chested down Ollie Tanner’s poor clearance on the edge of the box and dispatched a fine volley inside the far post.

In an end-to-end first half, there was still time for Wednesday’s Momo Diaby to crash a 30-yard shot inches wide and for Dawson to deny Robinson and Etete with two more impressive saves in quick succession.

Cardiff continued to create chances after the break, with Rubin Colwill, Robinson and Tanner narrowly missing the target.

Wilks forced Alnwick to save before further missed Cardiff chances from Robinson, substitute Cian Ashford and Perry Ng summed up the visitors’ evening.

Dawson spilled Bowler’s shot, only for the ball to spin back into the goalkeeper’s arms off the goal-line before Wilks raced clear to score the Owls’ fourth in the closing stages.

Chelsea scored three times in 11 second-half minutes to ease into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 4-0 win over Preston at Stamford Bridge.

A frustrating showing from Mauricio Pochettino’s side, in which they hogged the ball throughout the first half but carved few openings, burst to life 13 minutes after the break with Armando Broja heading in his second goal of the season from Malo Gusto’s cross.

That was followed by two in rapid succession, first from substitute Thiago Silva, who nodded in from Cole Palmer’s corner, then another when Raheem Sterling whacked a free-kick beyond the dive of goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, as Preston’s accomplished first-half defensive showing faded into memory.

Enzo Fernandez tapped in right at the end from a yard out, a final reminder of the gulf to Ryan Lowe’s side who are 14th in the Championship.

Sterling had had the game’s first chance, shooting towards Woodman’s top corner after 17 minutes, his effort turned behind at the near post. Moments later Palmer should have opened the scoring when he beat the Preston offside trap from Mykhailo Mudryk’s lofted pass and tried to lift the ball into the goal, but saw his dinked attempt drop inches wide.

Preston contained Chelsea well for the opening half-hour and carved an opening of their own, Milutin Osmajic darting into the box from a headed flick-on and attempting a finish across Djordje Petrovic, though it was light work for the goalkeeper to drop to his right and save. Will Keane’s scuffed shot from the edge of the box was fielded with similar ease.

Fernandez might have done better when he flung his head at Sterling’s deflected cross, in the end an easy catch for Woodman as a frustrating first half stubbornly failed to ignite.

Pochettino named a near full-strength side, the only surprise a first senior start at right-back for academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist. The 20-year-old acquitted himself well, willing to show for the ball and a composed defensive presence, but his teammates on the whole delivered as drab and uninspiring a 45 minutes as home supporters have witnessed this season.

Much of Chelsea’s problem under Pochettino has stemmed from players being too static when in possession, rendering attacking moves easy to anticipate for opposition defenders. Here in the first half, Palmer and Fernandez showed themselves again to be excellent passers of the ball, but with too little movement the play became predictable.

It was not a surprise then that the opening goal came from a Preston mistake. Keane was caught in possession inside his own penalty area, and the lively Mudryk hounded him off the ball. He knocked it back to Gusto, who whipped in a superb cross met by the head of Broja, stealing in ahead of Liam Lindsay to glance it into the far corner to the home fans’ audible relief.

Broja might and perhaps ought to have made it two, meeting Mudryk’s ball in and directing a near identical header an inch over Woodman’s crossbar, as Chelsea finally asserted their superior class.

A second goal though was not long in coming. No sooner had Silva emerged from the bench to an uproarious ovation from around the ground than he headed in for 2-0, rising unchallenged to thump Palmer’s header in at the near post.

Sterling’s goal to make it three was a peach, curling a free-kick into the top corner after Palmer was felled on the edge of the box, before a ludicrously drawn out VAR check confirmed a fourth from Fernandez at the end.

Matty Cash’s late winner saw Aston Villa progress to the fourth round of the FA Cup as they beat Middlesbrough 1-0.

Carabao Cup semi-finalists Boro were denied another cup run when Cash’s deflected strike found the bottom corner in the 87th minute.

The Premier League side had threatened from corners in the second half and a set-piece ultimately proved to be Boro’s undoing as Unai Emery’s side prevailed.

The first chance of the contest fell to Villa when Boubacar Kamara flicked the ball to Jhon Duran, who cut in from the left and fired towards the bottom corner but goalkeeper Tom Glover stuck out a leg to turn the ball behind.

The visitors grew into the game and Alex Moreno caused problems with some dangerous crosses, one finding Cash who smashed the ball into the crowded Boro box.

Alex Bangura tried to catch Villa on the break with some good balls through to Josh Coburn and posed a threat after latching on to a great cross-field ball, but Villa were able to clear.

The game suddenly sprung into life in the 32nd minute when Jacob Ramsey’s powerful shot was deflected over the bar and Leander Dendoncker narrowly headed over from the resulting corner.

Duran then forced a great save from Glover and Boro raced up the other end of the pitch as Dan Barlaser threaded the ball to Morgan Rogers, but Emiliano Martinez managed to palm it away for a corner.

The hosts had a great chance just on the cusp of half-time as Bangura fired a dangerous cross across the box, but neither Coburn nor Isaiah Jones could stab home.

A frenetic opening to the second half saw Glover make a fantastic save just four minutes in as a short corner allowed John McGinn to unleash a powerful strike on the edge of the box, but the goalkeeper tipped the ball over the crossbar.

Villa threatened again from corners in the 52nd minute as Ezri Konsa’s header smashed off the inside of the far post and another set-piece one minute later saw Moreno blast the ball over the bar from close range.

They had a penalty shout waved away when Moreno went down in the box and Boro began to threaten at the other end as Clement Lenglet made a fantastic slide to deny Jones’ cross.

The Villa defence were forced to clear a number of balls fired into the box and manager Emery responded with a quadruple change in the 70th minute, bringing on Ollie Watkins, Moussa Diaby, Douglas Luiz and Nicolo Zaniolo.

Emmanuel Latte Lath did well to flick Douglas Luiz’s free-kick behind and the Boro forward was soon involved at the other end of the pitch as Martinez smothered his run from the left.

Diaby had a great chance in the Boro box but scuffed his shot before Martinez was called into action again to hold Rogers’ cross.

Villa struck in the 87th minute as another short corner fell to Cash outside the box and his effort took a deflection off Latte Lath to beat Glover and send Villa through.

Watford head coach Valerien Ismael was pleased at the second-half reaction from his side, as they spared their FA Cup blushes with a 2-1 win over Chesterfield.

A goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time from Tom Dele-Bashiru broke the hearts of the National League leaders, who would have felt they deserved at least a replay.

Watford won their first FA Cup third-round tie at home since 2018, and progressed to the fourth round for the first time since reaching the final in 2019.

But Ismael was content with avoiding having to go to the SMH Group Stadium for a replay.

He said “The main thing in the cup is always to come through, because nobody will talk about the actual game.

“We made the game complicated for ourselves, and credit to Chesterfield they played well with a nothing-to-lose mentality.

“In the first half I didn’t get the feeling we controlled anything, at half time I told them we had to come back in our mentality – to raise our standards.

“That is non-negotiable, to play to your standards. The second half was much better and it showed a good mentality to score in the last minute.

“We’ve overcome the challenge. I prefer to score in the last minute rather than have a rematch.”

Backed by close to 4000 supporters, Chesterfield almost conceded after five minutes when Yaser Asprilla intercepted a back pass from Branden Horton, but his effort was blocked by Ryheem Sheckleford.

Goalkeeper Ryan Boot was needed on 24 minutes when Ismael Kone found space to bear down on goal but saw his shot denied the shotstopper.

The National League side then stunned their hosts three minutes later. A cross from the byline by Sheckleford found the head of Joe Quigley, who directed a simple header into the net.

It could have been even better for the visitors less than forty seconds after the restart, when keeper Daniel Bachmann had to save from Ollie Banks, following a move involving Sheckleford.

After a triple substitution was made to change the fortunes of Watford, it was down to one of the replacements in Mileta Rajovic to finally unlock the Chesterfield back line.

His header from a cross by Yaser Asprilla on 76 minutes sent an audible sigh of relief around Vicarage Road.

Although Watford were by far the more energetic of the two sides, Chesterfield could have won with seven minutes remaining, when sub Ryan Colclough headed over from less than six yards out.

The game was settled deep into injury time when Dele-Bashiru struck low past Boot, to earn a victory that was possibly ill-deserved.

Chesterfield assistant manager Danny Webb admitted the late defeat was hurtful, but his focus quickly returned to his side getting back into the EFL for the first time since 2018

He said “It’s a kick in the teeth, but when we look at the other scores in the National League today, which is what our bread and butter is, getting out that division, they went for us.

“We’re six points clear at the top, we’ve had a cracking day out and we’ve taken a Championship side toe to toe. Their bit of quality came through at the end.

“The supporters will be a bit down and a bit gutted.

“When you come to these places, the notch goes up – there’s a bit more quality, they’re a bit fitter and quicker.

“I won’t say we outplayed Watford, but we gave them a good game.”

Stephen Clemence was proud of his Gillingham players despite going down 4-0 to the Premier League’s bottom side Sheffield United in the FA Cup.

Doubles from William Osula and James McAtee saw the Blades into the fourth round at the expense of their League Two opponents.

But the Gills gave as good as they got for large parts of the game and Clemence took heart from the performance.

“I’m proud of the boys, I’m proud of the way they applied themselves and proud of the way they tried to make an impact on the game,” said the Gillingham boss.

“At times we had to sit in and weather the storm, but when we did have the ball we tried to be positive. It’s very hard to work our patterns against a Premier League side, but on another day we’d have got a couple of goals.”

League Two’s least potent attack came close to opening the scoring when Conor Masterson beat his man and saw a goalbound shot blocked.

Oli Hawkins wasted a brilliant chance for the Gills when he miscued a first-half header and, at 2-0 down in the second half, skipper Max Ehmer’s effort struck the post.

“I never felt it was a 4-0, the boys are unlucky with that,” Clemence insisted. “If Max’s header goes in, the place would have erupted and it would have been a really interesting end to the game.

“But Premier League players don’t need many chances to score, and that’s one of the biggest differences playing against top teams. I’m disappointed with the goals we conceded – I wouldn’t want to concede them in a League Two game, I know that for sure.”

Osula’s opener came following a United break on 14 minutes, with his low effort going through the legs of Gills goalkeeper Jake Turner.

The Dane then capitalised on Turner’s poor parry from Femi Seriki’s shot to side-foot home for his second six minutes before half-time.

McAtee ended any doubts about the result on 83 minutes, as he beat the offside trap to meet Ollie Norwood’s pass and fire past the luckless Turner.

He completed the scoring with the best goal of the tie with three minutes remaining, blazing into the top corner from 20 yards after Gustavo Hamer’s short corner caught Gillingham napping.

The Blades, FA Cup semi-finalists last season, earned their first away win of the campaign in all competitions.

United manager Chris Wilder said: “We did a job, didn’t we? We knew they’d be spirited opponents and it was a great experience for our younger lads.

“Everybody in the world outside of Sheffield was expecting an upset today. We haven’t won a lot of games of football but this was a good afternoon’s work.

“Maybe it was a bit of kidology from me this week, but I always thought we’d do it. I know what these occasions are like; this is where you really get judged as a player. There weren’t any shortcuts in our approach to the game, and there weren’t any shortcuts on the pitch today.

“If we’d have let the crowd find their voice, we’d have felt their heat. But we never really allowed that, the way we kept the ball, the way we took our chances, and the way we defended when we had to.

“Winning is enjoyable for everybody today. I’m not going to be embarrassed about winning a game, I’m not going to be embarrassed for our reaction to it. We had to be good today and we were.”

Plymouth’s new head coach Ian Foster expressed his delight at Argyle progressing to the FA Cup fourth round following a 3-1 home win over League Two strugglers Sutton.

Playmaker Morgan Whittaker took his tally to 14 goals with a stoppage-time strike and won a second-half penalty, converted by Ryan Hardie to make it 2-1 after Sutton striker Lee Angol had cancelled out Luke Cundle’s first-half opener.

Foster, appointed on Friday night, said: “It’s magical the FA Cup and I can’t wait to see who we get in the next round.

“For the majority I was pleased. I don’t think it was easy for the players having a new head coach walk into the building as late as I did. I thought they responded well to that.

“I just gave them a few messages around the game.

“The team were prepared really well in my absence but I just thought it was really important for me not to miss a wonderful opportunity to get on the touchline and be in and around the group today.

“I just made a couple of tactical nuances that I thought might help us and then just a couple of final messages around experiences of this type of game.

“The one thing I asked the players for was to play with a front-foot mentality. I wanted us to be aggressive without the ball, force errors.

“I wanted us to show control and patience in possession and recognise those opportunities to keep the ball, and fast attack when they are out of shape.

“It was nothing weird or wonderful, just adding something that I thought might be important.

“I was definitely able to impact from the side of the pitch.

“I’ve known Jason (Goodliffe) for a very long time and you have to win individual battles because they make it very hard for you.”

Interim Sutton boss Jason Goodliffe said: “We started a little bit slowly and the goal came at a difficult time but I was really pleased with the reaction after that.

“I thought by the end of the first half we started to show signs that we were capable of doing a bit more.

“The chat at half-time was telling them to believe a little bit more in what we could do going forward and we got ourselves a good goal and, at 1-1, I thought we were well in the game.

“We had some really good moments without necessarily being able to capitalise on those and the second goal comes out of nothing in terms of the penalty.

“Even then at 2-1, I still felt we were going to create something and have an opportunity but it didn’t quite fall for us unfortunately and I felt 3-1 at the end was a little bit harsh.

“The belief was coming into the players and particularly down the left hand side we had some really good moments, but just weren’t able to put it in the back of the net.

“There were times when the crowd were getting on the backs of Plymouth and it was quiet and it showed we were doing something right.

“Our fans were absolutely superb and didn’t stop singing all game. That really spurred us on in the second half playing towards them.

“Coming to a Championship team and leaving with a feeling of being hard done by shows how well the players have done.”

Manager Russell Martin admitted Ryan Fraser has done everything possible to start for Southampton after his sensational performance in the 4-0 FA Cup home win over Walsall.

Fraser scored twice and set up another as Saints strolled into the fourth round and moved to a 19th game unbeaten in all competitions.

The Scotland international has been forced to wait for his chances after arriving on loan from Newcastle but with injuries to Kamaldeen Sulemana and Samuel Edozie, he got Martin’s attention at the right time.

Martin said: “He was really good, really brilliant. He has such an amazing attitude and is a good example for the young boys.

“He’s been great coming off the bench recently, now Sam Edozie’s got an injury so Ryan has put himself in the frame to play from the start.

“As long as he brings what he does all the time then he will be a big player of us.

“He maybe hasn’t started as many games as people may have thought or what he’d like but he’s been a huge player for us.

“He’s been frustrated but in the right way. We wouldn’t have signed him if he was a bad character. He is the Ryan I remember playing with.

“He’s a good guy who smiles a lot and knows everything about football, watches every game possible and is in such great shape.

“We had a chat and he understood his role, especially as the other guys have been brilliant. He said he’d do everything he could whilst in that role.

“Of course he wants to start games but now he’s accepted it and has shown what he can do when he’s come off the bench. Days like today will definitely help him.”

Fraser opened the scoring in the sixth minute when he cottoned onto Taylor Harwood-Bellis’ ball over the top.

Championship promotion hunters Saints had to wait until the second half to run riot as Fraser teed up Sekou Mara to swivel and finish.

Fraser then added his second with a sublime finish into the bottom corner before Che Adams showed his strength and finishing abilities to help Saints score four at home for the third time in their last four matches.

The Saddlers had three good chances of their own, with Tom Knowles twice going close and Isaac Hutchinson also forcing a save out of Joe Lumley.

Boss Mat Sadler said: “We were certainly in the game in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

“They are a fantastic team and I’m glad we don’t have to play them every week. We’ve seen Championship sides blown away by them so we were fully aware of the task at hand.

“I wanted my team to give a good account of themselves and they did. I wouldn’t have fancied a replay, though.

“We grew into the game and it was fantastic to see but we didn’t score when we needed to score.

“We had three really good chances and unfortunately we didn’t take any of those.

“We are such a united football club at the moment and that will be hugely powerful going into the next part of the season.

“We wanted to upset it and ideally we didn’t want to go behind so early in the game but the reaction to that was great.”

Norwich head coach David Wagner pulled no punches after his Championship side were held to a 1-1 draw by League One Bristol Rovers in the third round of the FA Cup.

There were calls for Wagner to go from some quarters at the final whistle at Carrow Road while there was also criticism of the quality of football being produced by his team during the game.

Grant Ward cancelled out Ashley Barnes’ opener for the Canaries as Rovers claimed a deserved replay.

“It was a poor performance, well below par,” said Wagner. “We have high expectations of the players here and were certainly expecting a much better performance than that.

“We picked a team fresh enough to go out and do what was required and at the end of the day they had to play better.”

As for the criticism heading in his direction, Wagner added: “On a personal level it is not nice to hear things like that but it should not affect what is happening out on the pitch – how we play, how we pass the ball.

“Let’s not look for excuses. We have to do better, it is as simple as that, and the good thing about football is this was only one game – there is always another one coming up when you can be a lot better.”

Wagner made nine changes to the side held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton on New Year’s Day and revealed one was forced on them with on-loan striker Hwang Ui-jo out injured.

“We decided to give some of the lads a break after a busy period of games but Hwang has picked up a hamstring injury and will be out for six weeks.”

Both goals came in a five-minute spell early in the first half, with Norwich opening the scoring and Rovers swiftly getting back on level terms.

The Canaries edged in front after 12 minutes when Onel Hernandez out-muscled Tristan Crama on the right before delivering a cross into the six-yard box that was comfortably side-footed home by Barnes.

Rovers responded in a positive fashion and equalised when a poor clearance from Kellen Fisher fell at the feet of Ward, who curled the ball into the top corner from around 10 yards.

Luke Thomas hit the upright just before half-time as the League One side continued to give a good account of themselves while substitute Adam Idah twice went close for the home side after the break but both sides had to settle for a replay at The Memorial Ground later this month.

Rovers boss Matt Taylor was full of praise for his team afterwards.

He said: “I’m so pleased with the performance, so pleased with what the team and what the club stood for in terms of the effort on the pitch and the effort from the fans.

“We did have a threat about us, especially in that first half. Our keeper doesn’t feel he has been over-worked.

“I think we defended our box pretty well, set-pieces included, so a step in the right direction. We are still in the draw. We don’t feel it’s a missed opportunity. The opportunity will now come in 10 days’ time.

“I can’t complain about the performance. We’ve limited them to half-chances. Our keeper has not really had too many saves to make. So we defended our box and defensive third really well.

“You always want more from an attacking sense but we have to respect where the game was today, at Norwich.

“I thought it was a good standard of football – really good. Two good teams going at it. We had a threat about us.

“Second half, we had to withstand a little bit of field position and pressure that didn’t materialise to chances around our goal.

“And then you’re thinking can we go and pinch it at the end for a memorable cup victory. But we’ll take taking them back to our home patch.”

Andoni Iraola hailed Bournemouth’s half-time belief after they fought back from two goals down to beat QPR 3-2 and reach the FA Cup fourth round.

Sinclair Armstrong and Lyndon Dykes gave the Championship hosts the advantage at the break.

But strikes from Marcus Tavernier, Kieffer Moore and Justin Kluivert helped the Cherries produce an impressive comeback at Loftus Road.

Iraola said: “We had to play with much more urgency. We were keeping possession without attacking spaces and we were not making the differences.

“Second half we had a higher rhythm and we made the difference. It’s good that we are in a good mental position because we have played good lately.

“I could feel at half-time that we believed it was possible. The mentality of the players was that we can do it. We felt if we improved we would have a chance.”

QPR have struggled defending set-pieces since Marti Cifuentes took over in October.

Iraola lauded the execution of Moore’s equaliser when the striker beat goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and got on the end of Alex Scott’s corner after 58 minutes.

He said: “They’ve struggled with defensive set-pieces and luckily for us our execution was really good and we could score the goals.

“We had a change of attitude and we needed to play in a different way.”

Cifuentes acknowledged his side’s poor set-piece record and that it could be a mental issue.

The Spaniard refused to take aim at 36-year-old Begovic despite the error.

He said: “You don’t have to be a genius to see the stats and that since I’ve been here we’ve conceded 15 goals and 10 of them have been from set-pieces.

“Unfortunately set-pieces have been an issue for a while and we are not getting better so we need the balance. It can be an issue mentally as well.

“The fact we are conceding goals from set-pieces is more than just the keeper, Asmir is a very experienced keeper, he knows how to handle.

“He’s the type of leader who wants to take responsibility. I don’t want to point individually, this is a team task.”

Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi admits he will demand more from Joao Pedro even though only Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah have scored more this season.

The Brazilian’s late double in a 4-2 victory at Stoke avoided a potential FA Cup upset and took his personal tally to 15 in his maiden campaign for the Seagulls.

It equalled Glenn Murray’s 15-goal haul from the 2018-19 season and the club’s best return in a top-flight campaign since Michael Robinson (22) in 1980-81.

Manchester City’s Haaland (19) and Liverpool’s Salah (18) are the only Premier League players to have have scored more in all competitions but De Zerbi believes that is the level to which the youngster has to aspire.

“I love Joao Pedro and I know his potential. I know how he can improve and become important for us,” said the Italian.

“I would like always something more because for us this level of performance is enough but I think he can reach a higher level and to reach that level he can play better, he can push more and more.

“I would like him to start the game in the beginning not in the second half or after 20 minutes and I will tell him my opinion.”

De Zerbi admits he had never heard of Joao Pedro when the club lined up the £30million summer transfer from Watford.

“The credit for Joao Pedro is to the club. The recruitment department told me the name of Joao, I didn’t know Joao before he came with us,” he added.

Pedro’s goals in the final 19 minutes were decisive as his side had recovered from Jan Paul Van Hecke’s own goal to lead through Pervis Estupinan and Lewis Dunk only for Lewis Baker’s penalty to put the outcome in some doubt.

Asked how important it was to avoid a replay, De Zerbi said: “Especially if you think how many games we played from the beginning of the season.

“To reach the last 16 of the Europa League and to win today means we have to play three games less and that’s important in this moment if you consider how many players we have .”

This was Stoke head coach Steven Schumacher’s first defeat in his fifth match in charge and he admits he is still learning about his squad.

“Whenever you play against a Premier League team you learn lessons about what you have got,” he said.

“I learned our team has got character. When we conceded a goal just before half-time it could have knocked the wind out of us but it didn’t and we caused Brighton a few problems.

“The difference is in the big moments they punish you.”

Jon Dahl Tomasson lauded “incredible” Sammie Szmodics after his first career hat-trick helped Blackburn defeat Cambridge 5-2 in the FA Cup third round.

United threatened to shock their Sky Bet Championship hosts and twice went ahead, first through Jack Lankester’s curling finish and then Sullay Kaikai’s emphatic volley. In between those goals, Szmodics swept home and he brought Rovers level again with a typically clinical strike.

The Championship’s leading scorer took his remarkable tally for the season to 19 in first-half stoppage time with a first-time volley from close range, showing the confidence of a player in the form of his life.

Arnor Sigurdsson’s close-range finish midway through the second half and Harry Leonard’s powerful late header rounded off the scoring, but the star man was Szmodics and Rovers boss Tomasson praised his performance.

He said: “The development of Sammie is great to see. He’s a team player, he’s a goalscorer. He’s very good in doing all the things we want, then of course scoring that amount of goals and also even getting assists.

“And still the good thing is, he can miss a chance and it doesn’t matter, he can go on. Great character and great to see him getting the ball with him at home.

“After Christmas last season, I think he’s been really good for Rovers and after the summer holiday, he’s been extremely good. He’s also added those goals.

“We always know he can score goals but he’s not used to playing a lot of games at this level first of all, he played with Peterborough but not a lot. The way he’s scoring goals, the confidence he’s playing with and the role he takes as one of the senior players is quite incredible.”

Cambridge manager Neil Harris was disappointed with the manner of the goals his League One side conceded.

He said: “The game went how we expected it to go. Sammie Szmodics is a top player. We didn’t help ourselves at times with conceding goals, individual errors again which have cost us and we have to cut them out because when you play against good sides, you can’t give them a leg up.

“In the first half, our shape was excellent, our press was excellent, we regained the ball and used it really well, scored two really good goals.

“But you can’t give goals to these teams. You can’t give opportunities in the box to these teams because they are just too clinical. That’s my only frustration is that we didn’t help ourselves.

“I’m pleased with some aspects of the game, pleased for the two guys who got on the scoresheet, but ultimately, if you score two goals away from home in the FA Cup you don’t expect to lose by three goals.”

Birmingham’s new manager will inherit a squad full of character interim manager Steve Spooner insisted after the club’s 1-1 draw with Hull in the FA Cup third round.

Birmingham took the lead early in the match at the MKM Stadium as Lukas Jutkiewicz’s glancing effort found the bottom corner of the net and the Blues could have doubled their advantage moments later as Siriki Dembele struck the crossbar.

Hull dominated possession throughout, though, and despite failing to hit the target for the first hour, they eventually found an equaliser in the 87th minute.

Matty Jacob was the man who poked the ball home, capping his first start for the home side in style to ensure the two teams will meet later this month at St Andrew’s in a replay.

“Resolute, determined, organised, all the words that describe character, for me,” Spooner said of his side’s performance in East Yorkshire. “I think the players showed immense character out there.

“We set the team up in the way that we thought would help us against Hull. I think we carried out the game plan excellently and as much possession as they had, I couldn’t see them scoring and I think that’s a testament to the quality of the defending.

“I wasn’t quite sure how long I was looking up at the clock, I was thinking we’re nearly there, nearly there. It was a shame the way it happened and I think that way they were going to score.”

On the club’s managerial situation, Spooner said: “It’s been tough this week, but it’s been enjoyable. If the new manager is in Monday, that’s great, if he’s not we’ll look after the players again, pick up where we left off and carry on working.”

Hull boss Liam Rosenior added: “I’m delighted to still be in the hat, frustrated not to win the game. I feel like a broken record again.

“This club gave me an unbelievable memory of my life where we went on a cup run and I’d rather be in a cup, you deal with the games that you play. Fortunately, today because of the performances of Andy Smith and Harry Vaughan, and Matty Jacob, I know I can rely on a few for those younger players.

“So yes, it’s frustrating not to win the game. I felt the draw was the least we deserved in terms of our overall play and we have to go and have a difficult game away at Birmingham, but I’d much rather have that and still be in the FA Cup.

“Delighted for Matty Jacob because he deserved the goal from his performance and his general application since I’ve been at the club with him.”

Eastleigh manager Richard Hill claimed his side used the sense of injustice after George Langston’s first-half red card to inspire them to fight back from a goal down to earn a replay with a 1-1 draw at Newport.

Centre-back Langston was sent off for an elbow on County midfielder Harry Charsley seven minutes before the break, leaving the National League side with an uphill task.

And League Two County looked to be on their way to the fourth round once defender James Clarke turned in Shane McLoughlin’s corner in the 56th minute.

But Clarke brought down 25-goal Spitfires striker Paul McCallum in the box and Chris Maguire, who had earlier hit the post, levelled with a confident penalty into the top corner eight minutes from time.

“We had to give it a go,” said Hill, whose side dumped out League One Reading in the second round. “There was no point just keeping the score down in the last 20 minutes.

“We made positive substitutions and we’ve got players who are pretty special in certain areas of the pitch, and anything can happen.”

Hill was unhappy with the decision to show Langston a straight red and felt the home crowd influenced the officials.

“I’ve got to be careful – the FA police will be watching – it was a foul to us,” he added. “Will Evans was fouling our boys throughout the game, but sometimes the officials aren’t good enough to see that because they haven’t played the game. The crowd affected the linesman for the whole game as well.

“We felt a little bit aggrieved, and it motivated us. We sailed by the seat of our pants, but we were resolute. And when it went 1-1, I was telling the lads to go and win it.”

Maguire was the hero for the 1,000 travelling fans and Hill paid tribute to the experienced former Aberdeen, Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland man for his composure.

“There’s no better in the National League, or in League Two, than Chris Maguire to be in that position,” he insisted.

“He said to me as he was coming off the pitch ‘never in doubt’ and you have to believe him.

“We’ve only done half a job and we have to be mindful of that. We can’t think it’s a foregone conclusion, but we’ve got another chance.”

Exiles boss Graham Coughlan was also angry at referee Ed Duckworth for the penalty decision.

“It was a shocker,” said Coughlan. “It was based around the first-half decision to send their centre-half off.

“As a former centre-half I have taken a few and chucked a few, so know when one is chucked deliberately.”

The replay at the Silverlake Stadium is an unwanted extra fixture for the Welsh side, who should have been out of sight before the equaliser.

“I have mixed emotions,” added Coughlan. “We played really well, were the dominant team and moved the ball well to get into good positions.

“Before the sending off we were good and created chances that we just didn’t finish.

“Unfortunately, we are coming away from a game yet again talking about a ridiculous decision.

“We should have seen the game through, but the game was always likely to swing on a naive refereeing decision.

“We shoot ourselves in the foot, that’s evident, and I’ve got to take ownership for that.

“Overall, we need to realise how well we played, it was just that finishing touch and little bit of quality in the final third.”

RB Leipzig boss Marco Rose has wished forward Timo Werner all the best ahead of his anticipated loan move to Tottenham.

Spurs have moved for the former Chelsea attacker to bolster their options up front, especially with captain Son Heung-min being away at the Asian Cup with South Korea for the next month.

Werner’s current club Leipzig revealed on Saturday he was not involved in their friendly with St Gallen due to transfer talks and Rose has now confirmed his imminent six-month loan to Tottenham.

Rose told Sky Germany: “It’s right that Timo wants to go on loan. Timo would like to go to the European Championship.

“We wish him all the best and are keeping our fingers crossed for him.”

Germany international Werner will return to the Premier League with unfinished business after two mixed years at Chelsea, where he scored 23 goals in 89 appearances, and would be available for Spurs’ FA Cup fourth-round tie on the weekend of January 28, with the draw set to take place on Monday.

Tottenham attacker Brennan Johnson urged his team-mates to keep building momentum after their 1-0 win over Burnley on Friday.

Pedro Porro’s 78th-minute strike eventually broke Burnley’s resistance and it made it four wins in five matches for Spurs.

Despite a plethora of unavailable players, Johnson is relishing the attacking philosophy being implemented by head coach Ange Postecoglou.

“We’re enjoying it a lot. You can tell by how we play on the pitch,” Johnson told ITV. “We want to keep progressing individually and as a team we want to keep getting better.

“Before the game, the manager said, ‘we’re in two competitions, the Premier League and FA Cup, and we’re at no point where we can slack off in this cup or play half-hearted’.

“We know even (here), we won 1-0 but it went to seven minutes of extra time and they pushed with everything.

“We have to be on it 100 per cent and play how we play every week. If we can keep building momentum in this cup and keep playing how we do in the Premier League, I think we have every chance (of winning silverware).”

It was not a completely positive night for Postecoglou, with Giovani Lo Celso forced off early and, more worryingly, Ben Davies suffering a potential hamstring injury.

While Postecoglou hoped Lo Celso’s withdrawal was “muscle fatigue,” he was more downbeat about Davies, who will be assessed over the coming days.

There was better news on Micky van de Ven, after he returned following a two-month absence with a hamstring injury only to remain an unused substitute ahead of next weekend’s trip to Manchester United.

“He’s fine. The plan was to give him some game time but the way the game was going, we needed something up front to crack them open,” Postecoglou added. “We kept him on ice but he’s trained this week, he was OK and will train fully (next week). He’s available.”

Burnley also have injury concerns ahead of hosting Luton on January 15 with Lyle Foster replaced with an unspecified issue, while Charlie Taylor hurt his shoulder.

Clarets boss Vincent Kompany explained: “We’ll see. I hope it’s not bad news.

“I can’t tell you much more, but hopefully with that little bit of extra time before the next game, we’ll have some good news.”

Vanarama National League outfit Eastleigh recovered from a goal down with 10 men to earn a replay after a 1-1 draw at Newport.

The home side wasted a host of chances in the first half before Eastleigh defender George Langston was shown a straight red card for an elbow on Harry Charsley in the 38th minute.

The 10 men were almost ahead three minutes into the second half when a long ball over the top of the home defence sent Chris Maguire through on goal and despite his shot beating Nick Townsend, his effort rebounded off a post.

County finally broke the deadlock in the 56th minute when defender James Clarke was first to Shane McLoughlin’s corner and swept the ball past Joe McDonnell from inside the area.

But they could not find the crucial second goal to kill off the non-league side, and they were made to pay for their profligacy.

Clarke was adjudged to have brought down Paul McCallum in the box after 82 minutes and Maguire blasted the penalty high into the top corner.

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