Pre-match saw many City supporters expressing some concern as to the outcome of this cup tie. City’s recent record when visiting lower league opposition is poor at best. So the generally held consensus post match was acceptance of the draw even if the performance was far from ideal.
City started the game with just one change from the New Years Day victory over Everton, Giourgious Samaras being rewarded for his two goal outing with a return to the starting eleven at the expense of Corradi.
This meant City maintained the 5-3-2 formation that had seen them pick up 1-0 victories on their two previous away fixtures.
The game was typical Cup tie fare with Wednesday pressing and looking to take advantage of the home draw. Their approach play was tidy but lacked the cutting edge seen in the top flight. Perhaps this added to City’s complacency but they gave away to much easy possession, especially in their own half of the field with Dabo being particularly culpable.
Brunt should have opened the scoring for Wednesday midway through the first half but only managed to make a complete fool of himself in front of 6,000 visiting supporters by completely miskicking the ball when all that was needed was a cool finish.
City had their obligatory disallowed goal, courtesy of Graham Poll, the strike being ruled out for a foul on the goalkeeper.
Micah Richards was, from my position, lucky to remain on the pitch after throwing Wednesday’s Glenn Whelan to the ground after they had tangled. I fully expected to see Poll dish out the red and I think it’s fair to say Micah got lucky.
The second half saw a better tempo to the game as Wednesday pushed for a winner.
Weaver was forced into a fine save when Distin’s sliced clearance appeared to be heading for the top corner.
City had to withstand pressure from a number of corners and were thankful for Samaras’ defensive prowess when he headed Lee Bullen’s headed shot off the line.
Despite the pressure City always looked capable on the break with Darius Vassell’s pace constantly proving a thorn in the Wednesday defence’s side. If Vassell had also brought his shooting boots, as well as his running shoes, City would have claimed the tie with some comfort but he failed instead when one on one against Crossley on two separate occasions.
The goal action, when it did finally arrive, was condensed into a minute of play. City opened the scoring after Samaras converted a Graham Poll awarded penalty, the penalty being awarded for a clear Lunt trip on Richards.
Wednesday hit back immediately however, Steve MacLean firing the ball through the entire City defence and into the corner of the net. The lead had lasted less than a minute.
Both teams had their chances after that with both Crossley and Weaver having to make important saves to keep the scores level.
Graham Poll saw an opportunity to steal the limelight late on when refusing to restart play after a corner flag had broken. Despite there being all of 30 seconds left he insisted that the Wednesday ground staff replaced it before play could continue. Farcical for all in the ground to see but expected from the referee who loves to be centre stage.
Once the corner flag was replaced City took the corner, Crossley saved from Dunne and the game duly finished.
To be fair the result probably reflected the game and a draw was about right. I do worry though that had it been better opposition City would have been out of the cup. The distribution and tackling was very poor at times and Wednesday were often gifted the ball in the City half and allowed to move with it into shooting positions. The defence performed admirably however and it is on those efforts that Stuart Pearce will be glad to get the tie back to Eastlands with Joey Barton back in the side.
Sorry Stuart but I don’t like this 5-3-2 formation. Beasley is wasted infield and we create very little. It is perhaps understandable in the Premiership but games like this are crying out for some creativity and goal threat.
Wednesday impressed me with thir work rate and in fairness they took the game to City. However that little bit of top flight quality was missing and they failed to take advantage when on top. I hope they do progress in the Championship because I like the club, but also hope that this was their missed opportunity in the FA Cup, 2007.