Sunday, 8 January 2012

Still In With A Shout

The romance of the FA Cup may have been in full force elsewhere yesterday, but it certainly didn’t appear anywhere during the extremely dull encounter between Midlands rivals Birmingham and Wolves at St. Andrews yesterday afternoon, in what was a far from enthralling encounter culminating in a 0-0 draw.

Beforehand we were aware that the game was not a priority for either manager; with Chris Hughton chasing the play-off places and promotion and Mick McCarthy trying to keep his teams’ head above the water in the race for Premier League survival. Therefore both sides chose to play weakened teams, although Wolves’ changes were limited, and certainly had more Premier League quality players in their stating eleven, whilst Blues went for their second string who put up a good fight against their Midlands counterparts.

One of the positive points from the match, along with another clean sheet and our unbeaten home run still intact, was the midfield; Guirane N’Daw and Morgaro Gomis in particular, both linking up well in midfield and the former getting the man of the match award yet again, and rightly so. After taking a while to adapt to the English game, the on-loan Senegal international has won over Blues fans with his no-nonsense tackling and his whole-hearted displays in the centre of midfield. The African Cup of Nations will now mean he misses a handful of games, depending on how far Senegal progress in the competition.

Colin Doyle is another player who deserves praise after yesterday, and it is positive to note that we can call upon a player, who rarely plays, and know we can trust him to put in a good performance. His double save in the dying minutes of the game yesterday sparked the home crowd into rapturous applause for the Republic of Ireland shot stopper, who deserves all the praise he gets after his instinctive saves to deny Wolves passage into the 4th round of the FA Cup.

The return of Roger Johnson was another talking point of the afternoon; the outspoken defender made his first return to St. Andrews and received a mixed reception, mostly being booed by Blues fans. Coming up for a corner in the first half, Johnson was mocked and booed and replying by looking towards the Tilton and shaking his head, as if he expected more from the fans who adored him not even a year previously. I must admit, I wasn’t one of those who booed him, but I did find it funny when he got injured and had to go off; resulting in a famous Roger tantrum: throwing his captains armband off in disgust as he was helped off the pitch, and subsequently taking his frustration out on the away dugout.

The 0-0 draw definitely wasn’t an advert for Midlands football, nor for the FA Cup itself, but the replay suits the home side more than the away side and I am confident we can go to The Molinuex and progress into the next round of the FA Cup. Can we go one better than we did last year in England’s (second) best cup competition and make it to the semi-finals, or maybe even the final, at Wembley?

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