Andy Munro reports on Blues’ FA Cup win at Sheffield United.
Sean Bean and Jarvis Cocker, your boys got one hell of a beating!
Yes, it doesn’t get much better than this. After some below-par away performances, we hit ten goals in two games, albeit against nine men and then a division one side. Nethertheless, it is a heartening statistic; Sheffield United are one of the form teams in the lower division and have always had an impressive home record.
Blues predictably made some changes but not so many that the team was unrecognisable – with our small squad that would be a luxury. Most importantly, they kept a stable line-up in defence which has been the rock this season on which their success has been built. Blues were also backed by an away sell out of vociferous fans which all helped the cause.
Strangely enough, one of the most nervous players early on was young Nathan Redmond perhaps because,with Beausejour now out of the picture, this was this first game as first choice. Mind you once he tucked away an excellently taken goal he never really looked back. Things got even better when Rooney opened his own account and then Chris Burke started to run riot. The fact that Martinez went for Beausejour instead of Burke is something to be very thankful for, although I can’t understand it, unless it was the Spanish-speaking connection.
However, United were no mugs and briefly threatened until thwarted by the excellent Colin Doyle who would probably be my first choice between the sticks especially if he continues to get more match practice opportunity. Mind you, it soon reverted to a scenario of Blues’ superiority when the hardworking Wade Elliot scored a third to make the game safe.
The icing on the cake was a fabulous flowing movement of passes which led to Rooney’s second and the final comprehensive scoreline. It was also particularly pleasing for a couple of the youngsters to get a run out and for fringe players like Rooney and Elliot to show what they can do on the pitch. The rest of the script was fairly predictable with a rock solid defence in which Curtis Davies was outstanding and a super-efficient performance from Gomes and Mutch in midfield flanked by some sparkling wingplay from Burke and Redmond.
Whatever fate holds for us in the FA Cup, I really think that this Blues team have the sort of team spirit (and manager) to give a good account of themselves against anybody.