Saturday, 27 January 2018

Huddersfield Town 1 v Birmingham City 1 - FA Cup R4

Saturday 27th January 2018
Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
at the John Smith's Stadium
Huddersfield Town (1) 1
Steve Mounié 21
Birmingham City (0) 1
Lukas Jutkiewicz 54
Admission £15 Programme £2
Attendance 13,047 (inc. 2,473 away fans)
Huddersfield Town:
Joel Coleman, Chris Löwe (Scott Malone 82), Terence Kongolo, Michael Hefele, Florent Hadergjonaj, Jonathan Hogg, Danny Williams (Philip Billing 36); Rajiv van La Parra (Joe Lolley 57), Abdelhamid Sabiri, Collin Quaner, Steve Mounié
Unused subs - Jonas Lössl, Christopher Schindler, Tommy Smith, Laurent Depoitre
Birmingham City:
David Stockdale, Cohen Bramall, Marc Roberts, Harlee Dean (Jonathan Grounds HT), Michael Morrison (c), Carl Jenkinson, Jason Lowe (Craig Gardner,88), Jota, Cheikh N’Doye, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Che Adams (Jérémie Boga 76)
Unused subs - Connal Trueman, Josh Dacres-Cogley, Steve Seddon, Charlie Lakin
Upon arrival at the Kirklees Stadium, currently known as the John Smith's Stadium, and formerly called the Alfred McAlpine Stadium from 1994 to 2004 and then the Galpharm Stadium between 2004 and 2012, I was advised by the car park attendant at the ground that I wouldn't be able to leave my car there but would be welcome to use the Bradley Mills parking at a cost of £7. So I did a quick u-turn and parked (legally) a couple of hundred yards from the ground for free on side street just off Leeds Road in pole position to get away quickly after the game, pretty much the same as most people did; then walked back to the ground through the half empty official car park, via a stop off at a nearby bijou quality food emporium.
Did you know, that Huddersfield Town are the only team to have played at each of the top four levels of English football at two different grounds? Or that some people still call the Terriers home the 'new ground' even though they moved into it almost a quarter of a century ago? 
Kinnell! Recalling the times that I visited their former home on Leeds Road, that makes me feel really old. Okay, as I career full steam ahead to my next 'significant age' birthday, I concede that I am actually really old, but Ihave a mental age of nine or ten, so that must count for something. But I digress.
Last month, when Chelsea visited Huddersfield, the number of the away supporters serenaded the Terriers fans, with a rendition of: "Champions of England! You'll never sing that!"
Well, you see those three stars that today's hosts proudly wear above the club crest on their shirts? They didn't get them for working in McDonald's y'know.
Long before their post Second World war decline and subsequent current re-emergence as a top flight team, Huddersfield Town were the first ever club to win the Football League First Division championship (it's what they used to call the Premier League before it was bastardised) three times in a row across the 1923–24, 1924–25, 1925–26 seasons, they were also runners up for the two following seasons. Maybe those deluded Chelsea fans (I'm sure that they all can't be that stupid) don't know their history and think that Rupert Murdoch invented football in 1992 and owned it until Roman Abramovich bought it off of him in 2003.
Today's hosts are currently in fourteenth place in the Premier League, four places but only two points above the relegation places. However, whoever started the chant in the away end this afternoon of: "You're going down with the Baggies!", should have familiarised themselves with the Championship table first.
Some recent good results have given Birmingham a fighting chance of getting out of the mire at the bottom end of the second tier, as they prepare for Tuesday's vital game against fellow strugglers Sunderland at St. Andrew's. Consequently Blue manager Steve Cotterill (and his opposite number David Wagner) made seven changes for today's cup tie. Huddersfield are also back in action on Tuesday night, when they will hoping to pick up points from a home game against Liverpool.
Sam Gallagher's second half strike was enough for City to see off Burton Albion by a solitary goal at home, in the third round, while a Rajiv van la Parraat strike and a long range deflected shot by Danny Williams, were enough for Huddersfield to get through to round four with a two-one victory at Bolton Wanderers, who are also among the teams at the foot of the Championship, just two points and three places above Birmingham.
Almost 2,500 away fans made the 114 mile trip north from Birmingham and noisily got behind their team from the off, who responded by making a decent start to the game, with Jota and Che Adams combining well, deep inside the Terriers half.
Although the game was often and end to end affair, especially during the second half, actual clear cut chances were at a premium, but Birmingham fashioned the first one when Carl Jenkinson delivered a cross to the near post, that Lukas Jutkiewicz reached after battling off the presence of Michael Hefele, but could only poke the ball wide with Hefele continuing to unsettle the big front man.
Jutkiewicz is often mistaken as a Polish national, but he was actually born in Southampton and Birmingham are the ninth English club he has played first team football for, including Huddersfield on loan. He also scored twelve goals in thirty three starts for SPL club Motherwell during the 2009-10 season. Rajiv van La Parra conceded possession cheaply inside his own half, but Terence Kongolo, the Huddersfield central defender, moved across swiftly to block the lively Jutkiewicz as he attempted to test Joel Coleman from long range.
From their first real attacking move, the home side went in front, when Collin Quaner laid the ball out wide to Florent Hadergjonaj who delivered a first time pinpoint cross that Steve Mounié met with a powerful downward header that beat David Stockdale and gave the Premier League side the lead.
The timing of the goal, twenty one minutes, almost caused an awkward situation, as that was the precise time that Huddersfield Town had requested that the crowd should hold a minutes applause in memory of Joe Brook, a twenty one year old Terriers fan who had died in a road traffic accident earlier this month. But once people realised the significance of the time, all four sides of the ground respectfully joined in with the clapping, including those from the West Midlands who wouldn't have seen the announcement on the scoreboard above them, but definitely saw the goal that had just been scored right in front of them.
Good manners cost nothing, and with all due respect, though this isn't really the place to discuss such things, maybe the recently established practice of timed tributes during games, would be more apt, if a minutes applause/silence was observed before games, to avoid any potential misunderstandings occurring, like they very nearly did today, which in the event would've been sad for all concerned.
Chris Löwe saw off the attentions of Jenkinson and crossed towards Mounie and as Adams struggled to clear the ball, Quaner tried his luck, with a curling left foot shot that Marc Roberts blocked with a brave header and Abdelhamid Sabiri shot wide when the loose ball reached him.
Cohen Bramall did well to force his way forward to the dead ball line, but Joel Coleman managed to push the ball away to safety.
Right on the stroke of half time, Stockdale smothered the ball down by his right hand post as Mounié connected with his head from Löwe’s  free-kick.
HT: Terriers 1 v Blues 0
Kongolo, who put in a quality shift all afternoon, thwarted an attack whereby Jota had used his pace and trickery to open the home side's defence with Adams in tandem and Huddersfield cleared their lines.
But nine minutes after the restart, the visitors were on level terms, when Coleman's poor clearance fell straight to Bramall, who ventured forward and played a pass out towards Jutkiewicz to his left, whose initial cross was blocked by Hefele, but he struggled to bring the ball under control and for some strange reason thought that running out of his area with it, instead a launching a clearance away from the danger zone, was a good idea, but Jutkiewicz had anticipated well and kept running, nicking the ball off Hefele and crashing it into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Cue pandemonium in the away end.
Huddersfield pushed forward and when the ball was only cleared as far as Philip Billing just outside the area, Stockdale did well to keep out at full stretch.
Jota shot narrowly wide from around twenty yards out as Birmingham grew into the game and Huddersfield could consider themselves fortunate, that when Jason Lowe sent a measured ball into their area, which Jutkiewicz sent over Coleman with a dipping header into the net, the assistants flag went up and judged that the visitors number ten was offside... these things balance themselves out over the course of a season, but that one was a very, very close call indeed.
The game switched ends again and Stockdale was called upon once more, standing is ground to repel Jonathan Hogg as he advanced into the area from the left.
Juliewitz continued to be a thorn in the Huddersfield's side and Coleman had to tip a shot from him over the bar, while Jota was showing some good touches along with the visitors late substitute Jérémie Boga.
In stoppage time, the ex Birmingham City development team player Joe Lolley was put through, directly in front his former sides goal, by Quaner's sideways knock, but he spurned the opportunity and lashed the ball off target from just ten yards out. Phew! That was a close shave.
The two sides now go head to head in a replay at St. Andrew's on Tuesday week (6th February), after Birmingham first have two important Championship games to deal with, v. Sunderland at home and Sheffield Wednesday away. While Huddersfield have back to back Premier League games against Liverpool at home and Manchester United away during the interim.
FT: Huddersfield Town 1 v Birmingham City 1