LONDON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Aston Villa could find no respite from their Premier League woes as they suffered the embarrassment of being held to a 1-1 draw at fourth-tier Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
Villa, seven points adrift at the foot of the league, became the second top-flight club to be grateful to avoid defeat by League Two opposition following Liverpool's 2-2 draw at Exeter City on Friday.
The Cup's enduring capacity for romance and shocks was in evidence again at Wycombe's Adams Park home after former European champions Villa had taken the lead through a cool strike from their captain Micah Richards in the 22nd minute.
Yet Wycombe, who had 46-year-old goalkeeper Barry Richardson on their substitutes' bench, earned an equaliser against a strong Villa side through Joe Jacobson's penalty, which looked to have been harshly awarded, five minutes after halftime.
The result, following Liverpool's relief at earning the draw which takes Exeter back to Anfield, was an appetising hors d'oeuvre for English football's traditionally exhilarating and surprise-laden third-round weekend.
Holders Arsenal begin their bid to win the Cup for the third year in succession with a home tie against Sunderland later on Saturday, one of five all-Premier League ties which also feature Manchester City at Norwich City. (Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Ed Osmond)