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Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 19:32 GMT
Sheff Weds 2-1 Sheff Utd (a.e.t)
Sheffield Wednesday's recent revival continued as they defeated derby rivals Sheffield United at Hillsborough to earn a fourth round Worthington Cup tie at West Ham United.
Striker Efan Ekoku enamoured himself to the the Wednesday fans with a brace as he scored his first goals since arriving on loan for the season from Swiss side Grasshopper's Zurich.
Ekoku netted the opener before settling an explosive Sheffield derby in extra time.
The Nigerian striker was signed just under two weeks ago for his pace and power, and his arrival has coincided with the Owls' dramatic about-turn in form.
Wednesday have won three and drawn one of the four matches in which he has played, but none were more important than this first `Steel City' clash in almost seven years between the two First Division sides.
Unsurprisingly, given the agonising time span, there was no love lost, no quarter given throughout what was a typical blood-and-thunder cup tie.
Managers Paul Jewell and Neil Warnock were daggers drawn on the sidelines, with the Owls boss admitting before the match there was a history between the two.
It all added to the tension which only increased at the first whistle as the build-up over the past few weeks finally gave way to a dramatic and enthralling encounter.
Referee Stephen Lodge had his work cut out as almost every tackle was close to being x-rated in a pulsating first half, but the Barnsley official surprisingly only awarded three bookings in the opening 45 minutes.
First blood was drawn by Wednesday as Ekoku finally opened his Wednesday account in the ninth minute, beating Simon Tracey with a flick header from 10 yards following a piercing free-kick from Owen Morrison.
The blue-and-white half of the city celebrated wildly, but what then followed was wave after wave of red-and-white attacks and it was only a matter of time before United equalised.
Warnock watched in anguish as Marcus Bent first spurned two clear chances, Paul Devlin cracked a 20-yard drive inches wide after beating three Owls defenders, Nick Montgomery rattled the left-hand post and Shaun Murphy forced Kevin Pressman into a full-stretch save.
But then in the 35th minute came the breakthrough his side deserved as Devlin first found Montgomery in acres of space wide on the right.
The youngster's low cross, aimed for Bent, caused confusion as the Wednesday defence stood like statues, forcing Pressman to pause as he came to collect, and ultimately leaving Michael Brown the simplest of side-foot tap-ins from 15 yards.
The goal sent the near 8,000 United fans into raptures, and unsurprisingly police and stewards into the stands to remove a few Blades supporters celebrating amongst the Wednesdayites.
The sporadic flashpoints were efficiently dealt with, while back on the pitch the action was unrelenting as the woodwork then came to United's rescue.
A Morrison shot spun off the blocking Wayne Quinn, hitting the left-hand post, before the half ended with Pressman and Tracey athletically denying David Kelly and Ashley Westwood respectively.
The second half was just as frenetic and although it lacked the gilt-edged chances of the first, there could still have been the most dramatic of finishes.
In injury time Pressman could only parry a searing 20-yard Wayne Quinn free-kick, with the loose ball eventually falling to the all-alone Bent.
But from eight yards and with the goal at his mercy he thundered his attempted winner against the bar as Wednesday lived to fight again in extra time.
And so it proved because with just seven minutes remaining Ekoku met another Morrison delivery with a downward header which bounced into the turf and then hit the underside of the bar before spinning over the line.
At the recent AGM Jewell had been told by Wednesday fans that if he did nothing else this season he must beat United, and he duly delivered - thanks to Ekoku.
Sheff Wed: Pressman, Haslam, Walker, Quinn, Sibon, Lescott, Hamshaw, Humphreys, Westwood, Ekoku, Morrison. Subs: Stringer, Di Piedi, Muller, Geary, Crane.
Sheff Utd: Tracey, Quinn, Murphy, Curle, M. Brown, Bent, Devlin, Ribeiro, Kelly, Uhlenbeek, Montgomery. Subs: Talia, Woodhouse, D'Jaffo, Santos, Smith.
Referee: S Lodge
26 Sep 00 | SOL
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