By Barney Stone, Deputy Online Sport Editor and third year History student
Ivan Cavaleiro bagged the game’s only goal, ensuring that Wolverhampton Wanderers advanced to the FA Cup quarter-finals for only the first time since 2003.
Coming in to Sunday’s fixture, Bristol City had amassed nine successive wins and were looking rampant at Ashton Gate. Having breached the hallowed playoff places, City were provided with a timely opportunity to test their Premier League credentials. However, Wolves offered stern opposition; Championship winners in 2017-2018, and now cruising in the top flight, Nuno Espírito Santo’s men were surely relishing a continuation of their cup run. This promised to be a mouth-watering contest.
To the contrary, shots on goal were a precious commodity during a lackluster first half. Indeed, it wasn’t until the 28th minute that Wolves decided to flex their Premier League muscle and notch up the opening goal. Conor Coady’s protracted cross field pass unleashed Matt Doherty, who bundled past his opponent to whip in a cross to Cavaleiro; the Portuguese forward proceeded to drill the ball past a despairing Fielding.
Doherty, who received heaps of praise from Nuno Espírito Santo in his post-match interview, appeared to have been studying Messi’s textbook. The Irishmen was at the centre of numerous attacking opportunities for the visitors, and represented a constant thorn in Bristol City’s side. On one occasion, he received a one-two first from Dendonker on the edge of the box, then again with Jimenez, before bursting into the box and smashing the post.
By half time, Wolves appeared to be in control. Bristol City offered little going forward, and were in dire need of a tactical reconsideration at the break. For any home fans yearning for a substitution, Lee Johnson duly obliged them; Marlon Pack and Matt Taylor were introduced to good effect. City’s Brownhill provided early second half impetus, weaving into the box, before delivering a cross which Taylor failed to convert.
However, despite Bristol City’s improvement, Wolves were still creating the better of the chances and looked in control. Moutinho struck the bar from a free kick, whilst Gibbs-White failed to bury an opportunity when one-on-one against Fielding.
With the game still at 1-0, Bristol City pressed for an equalizer and made Wolves endure a nervy climax. A sharp header from Taylor forced Ruddy into action, whilst the home side bombarded Wolves’ box from corners; goal mouth scrambles were certainly in abundance. In added time, Bristol City threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Wolves’ goal. Fielding, up for the final few seconds, even managed to connect with a sweet volley, only for it to be blocked.
Wolves hung on to secure their first quarter-final berth since 2003, and will now face Manchester United at Molineux. Meanwhile, the Robins must set this disappointment aside and recalibrate their sights towards securing promotion to the Premier League. Accumulating 17 shots at goal in the second half, City certainly deserve praise for their ability to create chances; I’m sure this will put them in good stead as they continue their push towards the footballing promised land.
For any romanticists pleading for a cup upset this weekend, the remaining fifth round ties failed to deliver. Manchester City comfortably navigated themselves past Newport County, whilst Watford, Brighton and Crystal Palace all brushed off lower league opposition. Perhaps the greatest ‘shock’ was Manchester United’s 2-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge; however, given the home side’s wretched form, and now dwindling support for ‘Sarri-ball’, it should not come as too much of a surprise. Championship representatives Millwall and Swansea City complete the line-up for the quarter-finals.
The quarter-finals will be played from 15-18 March. For the winners of each tie, a day out at Wembley awaits.
Featured Image - Phil / Flickr
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