Game number 54
FA Cup third round day is always an exciting time in the football calendar, with plucky non-league sides hoping to topple top flight opposition and glamour ties all round. Sadly for me, Macclesfield had failed to progress to this stage and so this was the next best thing.
I have already seen this fixture unfold once this season, way back in September and game number 25 of the season:
https://diaryofafootballfan.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/manchester-city-7-0-sheffield-wednesday-capital-one-cup-3rd-round-24-9-14/. This resulted in an emphatic City win, with all seven goals coming after a sloppy first half display. The same outcome, but with a more competitive scoreline would have been much appreciated on this occasion.
The game opened with Wednesday pressing City hard once they got over the half way line; the home side appeared content to stroke the ball around in non threatening areas of the pitch. The result being that the game lacked a real intensity and flow, with City unable to break through the massed ranks, and Wednesday adept at shutting down any half chances that arose.
This pattern is fine for a while, but when City seem to have no inclination to do anything about it, then it does become very frustrating. I am not calling for a direct style and I do appreciate the need to go backwards to progress forwards once in a while, however there was a clear lack of movement and therefore options for the City players when in possession, which was exacerbated by the lack of a true striker.
This lethargy seemed to spread throughout the crowd, and then crucially to the City back four. They allowd Stevie May to progress unchecked down the right before sliding across the box to an unmarked Nuhiu who slammed home with aplomb.
The remainder of the half seemed to drift by, with Wednesday now able to hold a deeper line and City unable to get anything going. Neither ‘keeper had much to do, and it seemed entirely possible that a shock result could happen.
As with many of my trips to City, the mascots game at half-time provided some much needed entertainment, with the crowd getting suitably involved. As usual City won through, thanks in no small part to some questionable officiating.
In keeping with most managers, at all levels of the game, Pelligrini made his move on the hour mark, with Nasri and Silva entering the fray. The impact was instant, with pair moving the ball around at pace and drawing Wednesday players in before releasing a pass.
Milner was the first beneficiary as he swept home an equalizer following good work from Silva. Although City were still not at their devastating best, there was an inevitability about a home victory from this point on.
The reailty was somewhat different, as Wednesday dug in well to restrict City to a series of half chances. Kirkland was not tested enough from City’s point of view, as a replay loomed. Thousands of home fans had headed home into the Manchester night (don’t worry I’m not going to go a 500 rant about this for a change!) by the time Milner proved himself the hero on his 29th birthday, with a smart finish to finally put City through.
Not a vintage display, but City managed to sneak through thanks to Milner’s injury time strike, and will hope to progress to the final come May. Their opponents in the next round will be Middlesbrough, a side brimming with confidence and flying high in the Championship. Should City play so poorly again then an upset is a distinct possibility.
Entertainment = 5/10