After a less than exciting 0-0 draw at St. Andrews, last night saw a tightly contested FA Cup third round replay between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City, ultimately ending the Championship side coming out on top courtesy of a single, scrappy goal scored by Wade Elliott. In a game of few chances it was Blues who out-shone the home side, playing the more attractive football in front of a seriously depleted crowd of just over 10,000 at the Molineux, and overall it was a deserved win for Blues. Here are a few points to consider from yesterday evenings tie:
Both ties proved to be lacking serious goal mouth action so it was probably a given that the first, and only, goal would come from a goal-mouth scramble in which lacklustre defending allowed Elliot to first hit the post and then score from a few yards out from the rebound. On reflection it was probably a deserved goal; and there can be little complaints for the Wolves faithful. It was also an earned goal for Elliot; the former-Burnley man had a comfortable and tidy game in midfield, and staked a case to be included in the starting eleven on Saturday when Blues host Watford in the league.
Playing up front on his own, Rooney received little joy last night and there were plenty of calls for him to be replaced by either Marlon King or Nikola Zigic, who had been rested for the tie. But with that in mind, he did well to make himself a handful for the Wolves defence for the whole ninety minutes, and had a brilliant chance in the first half to put Blues ahead however; going one on one with Dorus De Vries, before taking too many touches and getting tangled in the legs of George Elokobi who arrived on the scene just in time.
Case for the defence
Curtis Davies and Steven Caldwell, two essential cogs in Chris Hughton’s well-oiled defensive machine again proved their worth; keeping Kevin Doyle, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and even Steven Fletcher, coming on as a late second half substitute, at bay. Again they coped with everything that was thrown at them and kept a second consecutive, and extremely deserved, clean sheet. The man in the goals behind them, Colin Doyle, after impressing in the draw against Wolves the first time around, regained his place in the side and showed just why Chris Hughton continues to install faith in the long-serving Blues player. Making comfortable saves when needed, Doyle wasn’t called upon all too much last night, but a sign of a good goalkeeper is keeping concentration: and when the rest of his defence stopped and called for offside, he kept his head in the game and pulled off a magnificent double save late on to deny Wolves an equalising goal – and it was just as well, as the offside flag was never risen.
It was a resilient and ultimately deserved victory for Blues, whose 2,300 fans who made the short journey to the Black Country went home happy. Confidence is on a complete high now, after consecutive away victories, consecutive clean sheets, and seven goals scored in the last two games. With 36 games played and still more to go, it’s going to be an extremely exciting end to the season for Hughton’s team, who have a real chance of getting into the play-offs, and are in with a shout of progressing further in the FA Cup; with Sheffield United of League One waiting in the next round.