After getting an unexpected holiday over the Christmas period, the Whites returned to action in the FA Cup 3rd Round with a trip to Ashton Gate. I’ve always been a big fan of the Cup, but an away tie against a team from the same league at the start of a busy period of games didn’t really encapsulate the magic of it!
Whilst a loss wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world given the next few weeks of games, it will have been a good confidence booster to get the first win since November, even if it did take extra time and a slice of fortune/opportunism from Harry Wilson to decide the tie.
The team that Marco Silva put out was a good mix of first teamers and squad players, coupled with a strong bench, which was probably a sensible approach given that the focus really needs to be on getting back to winning ways in the league. The one surprise in the lineup was the return of Domingos Quina who was apparently all set to return to Watford having made little-to-no impact since joining on loan. To be fair to the young Portuguese winger, he was probably one of the better performers, albeit in a team that certainly looked as if they hadn’t played in 3 weeks.
The game could’ve been viewed as an inconvenience, however it was good to get a runout before the re-arranged Reading game on Tuesday, and the 5 subs rule allowed for a good bit of squad rotation during the 120 minutes of play. Hopefully any cobwebs that had built up since the loss to Sheffield United loss will have been blown away and Silva’s men will be ready to take it to the home side who will be hurting after a shock (maybe?) defeat to non-league Kidderminster at the weekend.
The game itself will most definitely be filed under ‘Forgettable’, and the Robins had the best chances of the game with train-enthusiast Chris Martin spurning a guilt-edged opportunity when put through – something which is always enjoyable to see! And Fulham’s winner as the first half of extra time was drawing to a close was one of those goals that you love to score but leave your head in your hands when you concede. Short corners are often derided but I’ll be more than happy if Wilson can execute a few more of them like that!
A tricky 3rd Round tie will now be followed up with a monster challenge up in Manchester against City. Pep appears to be taking the Cup seriously (as he does with all competitions) so we will be hoping that his seemingly unstoppable side will be having the mother of all off days when we travel up there in 3 weeks time. You have to imagine it’s unlikely… but what’s football without a bit of mindless optimism eh!?