Tuesday, 18 January 2011

FA Cup Third Round Replay: Conclusions from Eastlands

Manchester City4-2Leicester
(HT 3-1)
Tevez 15
Viera 37
Johnson 38
Kolorov 90
Gallagher (pen) 19
Dyer 83
Goal: Paul Gallagher celebrates scoring at Eastlands

  • The FA Cup is not dying. To the nay-sayers who quote falling attendances and lost interest in this most famous of cup competitions, I say this: subscribe to ESPN Classic and watch the action from this tie. For the initial meeting of the two sides - and this replay (for at least the first half) - were two of the most entertaining football matches I've ever seen. Of course, that is subjective based on my views as a Leicester fan but, considering the 31-place gulf between these two sides, this was a truly enthralling FA Cup tie.
  • Premier League quality wins the day. For all of Leicester's early chances, City bode their time and instead of wasting possession, they made it count. It was the finishing ability of the home side that won this tie, not anything of Leicester's frailty.

Lloyd Dyer
A candidate for man of the match tonight, Dyer was the one player the Manchester City defence failed to cope with time and time again. He ate Kolorov for breakfast after he swapped wings to cut-in from the right and his performance was capped with a goal to rival those scored by City, a beauty of a ball from Yuki Abe splitting the City defence allowing Dyer use his pace to latch-on to the ball and slot home. That, Lloydy, is more like it.

Richie Wellens
Wellen's brief spat with Carlos Tevez after twenty-five minutes was over in a flash and the referee dealt well to dismiss it as simply that. Wellens showed what is needed in every team: a dependable, reliable midfielder showing some passion and grit that is missed in the modern world of football. His guile and controlling influence was sorely missed in the second half.

Chris Weale
Perhaps the Bristolian could have saved the opening goal, but it would be hard to judge him against what was utter class. Weale had a tremendous game making some crucial saves at 0-0 - including denying Adam Johnson early on - and 1-1. Unfortunately his parry to deny an onslaught from the City attack fell kindly to Patrick Viera who could hardly miss, before Johnson did everything right to make it 3-1. Rather harsh on Weale, that. For him to save a penalty and deny Tevez will feel sweet for him, however, and he will surely sleep well tonight.

Mark Halsey
A special mention for tonight's referee who was fair and consistent, awarding some good decisions (including the right call for Leicester's penalty) and controlling of what was a tense atmosphere superbly well. The only issue was his handling of Jack Hobbs' challenge on Tevez for City's penalty, with Hobbs arguably lucky to remain on thepitch without even a caution to his name. Overall though, Halsey had a good game.

The Foxes On Tour
Six thousand strong and by far the loudest thing in Manchester tonight, the travelling Blue Army did the city proud.

Too often in the FA Cup the lower league side can grab a draw at home before being thumped in the replay. Leicester City failed to lie down and accept defeat as an option, even after Tevez's exceptional opener, and fought back into the game to give the viewing public a second bite at what has been a thrilling cup tie. More of this, please: it's what makes cup football just that little bit special.

Paul Gallagher
Such a shame for the Scot to have to leave the pitch injured, particularly after it was his thumping penalty that levelled the scores. Gallagher has been in a fine vein of form recently, his performance at Preston at the weekend tantamount in proving his credentials as a crucial member of the squad.

Sol Bamba
I don't care what you do in Scotland, but down here we play to the whistle. This arm-in-the-air business will not do.

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