Sunday, 15 December 2013

Jim's column 14.12.13

Last week's draw at Hartlepool means that the Sky Blues will entertain the North Easterners in a replay next Tuesday. It will be the first FA Cup home replay for almost four years, since Portsmouth (then a Premiership side) won 2-1 with an injury time goal in extra time. Several followers have asked me what City's record in home replays is like and I have done some research this week.

Since WW2 City have hosted 12 FA Cup replays and lost only three, and two of those after extra time. The only side to beat Coventry in ninety minutes was Bristol City in 2007 – a result which precipitated Micky Adams' departure the next day. Portsmouth (2010) and Huddersfield (1955) both needed extra time to win replays in Coventry, and the latter were also a top flight team back in '55.

The record is pretty impressive and one only hopes the omens are good for the replay on Tuesday. The full list of those post-war home replays is as follows:

1952 Leicester C won 4-1
1955 Huddersfield lost 1-2*
1962 Millwall won 2-1
1963 Portsmouth drew 2-2*
1966 Crewe won 4-1
1974 Sheffield Wed won 3-1
1981 Leeds won 1-0
1984 Wolves (2nd replay) won 3-0
2003 Cardiff City won 3-0
2007 Bristol City lost 0-2
2009 Blackburn  won 1-0
2010 Portsmouth lost 1-2*

* after extra time

Talking of the FA Cup on Sunday I watched Tamworth put up a plucky display against Bristol City only to be knocked out by the more experienced side and a stunning goal from Jay Emmanuel Thomas. Two former City academy players performed well for Tamworth. In goal Cameron Belford had an excellent game & could not be faulted for the two goals whilst Lee Hildreth gave a good account of himself in midfield.

Belford, spent several years at City but never made it to the first team and was released in 2007. He was at Bury for six years and made 78 league appearances as well as loan periods at Worcester, Southend & Accrington, before joining Tamworth this season.

Hildreth, like Belford a Nuneaton lad, was on City's subs bench for the final game of the 2006-07 season at Burnley and came on for Jay Tabb in the final minute in a 2-1 victory. I am not sure if he even touched the ball but he went down in the record books as the player with the shortest first-team career in the club's history. A few days before that he captained City's reserve team in the Birmingham Senior Cup final against Nuneaton and scored the winning goal before lifting the trophy. Lee was released in 2008 and joined Tamworth before joining the Royal Marines. He has subsequently been in Afghanistan and in periods at home played on a part-time basis for Corby, Brackley and Nuneaton Griff before returning to Tamworth on a part-time basis this season.

Belford & Hildreth were both members of City's 2006-07 Youth Cup team which was not one of the club's strongest youth teams, losing 5-1 at Reading in round four and producing only two first team players (Hildreth & Ashley Cain). Since then of course the influence of Gregor Rioch has transformed the club's academy and for the last 2-3 years it has produced a plethora of young talent for the first team. It was sad to see Gregor leave the club recently but he probably needs a new challenge.

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