05/06/11 01:28 BST
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Picture Havant's heroes enjoy their performance.


By Paul Walker, PA Sport

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Even the police stood back to applaud as Havant and Waterlooville's coach left Anfield.

Such was the impact of the Blue Square South side's astonishing performance on their FA Cup trip to dreamland, hardened Merseyside coppers knew they had witnessed something very special and staged their own tribute to Shaun Gale's men.

A team 123 places below Liverpool in English football's pyramid had scared the life out of the Barclays Premier League stars and their manager Rafael Benitez.

The last non-league team to win on a top-flight ground was Altrincham at Birmingham in 1986, and the embarrassed Blues boss Ron Saunders quit the following day.

A minute from half-time in this fourth-round cracker, with Havant still 2-1 ahead, a dark cloud was hanging over Benitez too. It was that serious.

A header from Richard Pacquette - a former QPR youth-team colleague of Peter Crouch - and Alfie Potter's deflected effort off the hapless Martin Skrtel were the cause.

Eventually Liverpool pulled themselves together thanks to Yossi Benayoun's hat-trick and efforts from Lucas and Crouch.

But however hard Benitez tried afterwards, he could convince no-one that there were any positives in this humiliation.

Gale's team, not quite the array of nobodies they were portrayed, included some with top-flight experience and plenty with Football League pedigrees.

And as the team coach - lent by the England Test cricket squad - slipped away from Anfield, Gale knew his remarkable side could soon be broken up after adding £500,000 to the club's coffers with their cup run.

Gale said: "I wasn't surprised with how well we played, and I believed we had some very good players who could perform on this stage.

"What they have achieved is magnificent and I am sure the players have put themselves in the shop window. This run has highlighted not only the club but the individual players as well.

"I am sure a few of my lads will have now been watched by bigger clubs because they have done so well.

"If they move on to bigger and better things then I will be happy with that. There are a few of them who do want to get back into the Football League and if they can achieve that then that is fine by me."

Havant's heroes deserved all the praise for a performance that puts them firmly into FA Cup folklore.

Potter, on loan from Peterborough and with a new two-year contract to go back to, summed it up, saying: "Obviously I would rather be back at Peterborough in the league playing regularly than be out on loan in the Blue Square South.

"But probably nothing I ever do will match the feeling of playing at Anfield and helping Havant to such a wonderful day.

"We took the lead twice against a side who were recent European Cup winners. It is just an amazing feeling. Nobody can take anything away from Havant for this, the team was magnificent.

"A year ago I was just in college football, and I end up at Anfield playing in one of the greatest Cup results for a non-league team in years.

"As for our second goal, of course I think it's mine and not an own goal. It was going in."

Liverpool, without the spine of their side - Jose Reina, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres - were a rudderless mess for long spells.

It meant so much more to Havant and the likes of Pacquette, who said: "I was almost in tears coming out onto the pitch, there was so much emotion for me and the rest of the lads, it meant so much to everyone.

"Then to score in front of the Kop was just an amazing feeling, it was hard to believe it was happening. We really gave them a hard time, and we should have scored a third when their keeper made a mess of a catch.

"I always knew I had a performance like that in me, as did the whole team.

"This day meant so much to all of us, it was very emotional to realise we were playing at Anfield against such a massive club.

"I know it effected me. I felt myself welling up as we came out. The rest of the lads felt the same, it meant everything to be here.

"We always felt we could do something special. Not many clubs go to Anfield and score twice and lead twice. That will live with us forever."

Liverpool's stars were shell-shocked and striker Dirk Kuyt was quick to praise the Hampshire heroes.

He said: "Havant were incredible. When you are in non-league and you go 1-0 and then 2-1 up against Liverpool you are doing very well, and all the credit must go to them for their performance.

"It was unbelievable. We didn't expect to concede two goals and we were lucky that we improved because after the first 45 minutes we needed to give a better effort.

"There were a few words from the boss at the break. But everybody was disappointed with the score at half-time."

Gale added: "Rafa Benitez came into our dressing room afterwards to say we had been magnificent - that showed his class.

"Their players also came in, signed shirts for us, we were treated magnificently."

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