Huddersfield Town FanZoner Kyle Warwick is delighted Huddersfield Town have made it through to the next round of the FA Cup.
After a football week dominated by the comments of a certain Premier League manager, it was good to see Huddersfield Town manager Mark Robins taking the FA Cup seriously. The importance of the competition is not just grounded in its history but also in the effect it can have on a team's league season.
For clubs, like Huddersfield, in mid-table, trying to get points on the board, the confidence gained from an FA Cup victory and run can be extremely useful. Yet equally a defeat to against lower-league opposition can drain confidence and dent any form a team may have been carrying in the league. This was epitomized in Huddersfield's tie against Grimsby Town.
Going into the game Huddersfield had suffered a 3-2 defeat at promotion-chasing Burnley. Not a in itself a terrible result. Couple that defeat with a 2-1 defeat (the score on 79 minutes), at a team three divisions lower than themselves, and the picture would have been very different.
Huddersfield, however, have felt the benefits of an FA Cup run in recent seasons and did not give up the ghost.
Praise must go to Robins who gave out all the right rhetoric going into the game. The emphasis of his media interviews being on the financial benefits of a cup run for a club looking to become self-sufficient, this was coupled with talk of the boost to confidence a win could give. All this meant that a strong Town side were unlikely to take the game lightly.
That being said the game itself was by no means a walkover for the Terriers. Grimsby Town were certainly buoyed by a record crowd and the possibility of a big cup upset. Despite Huddersfield having the majority of possession and shots at goal it was Grimsby that took the lead twice in the game before Huddersfield rallied late to secure a victory to will do wonders to eradicate the loss at Burnley from fans and players memories.
Many Huddersfield fans had been worrying about the absence of leading scorer James Vaughan going into the intense festive period, with the other strikers providing minimal goal scoring support to the former Norwich front man. Yet over that festive period Martin Paterson has stepped into Vaughan's boots admirably, scoring four goals in three games. Another bright light in Huddersfield's festive schedule was undoubtedly the cameo performance of one Duane Holmes, on Boxing day, against a then unbeaten Derby side.
That day Holmes came on to change the flow and impetus of the game in Huddersfield's favour. His quick feet, accurate passing, desire to beat his man and take a shot gave a strong Derby side much to think about that Huddersfield's midfield had been missing that day. Holmes provided the assist on Boxing day for Paterson to score a stunning equiliser late in the game.
And it was Holmes and Paterson that combined again against Grimsby to provide Huddersfield's second equiliser. That was a goal that ultimately broke Grimsby resistance and lead to the winner in the dying minutes of the game. Certainly it will be the battling manner of the Victory that provides Terriers manager Mark Robins with the most to smile about. The team never laid down despite the intensity of a home crowd baying for a championship giant slaying. The victory allows Huddersfield to look forward now to their upcoming league game against a struggling Millwall with high spirits. This is not just because of the victory over Grimsby but also because of the form their players have been showing in recent weeks.
The same cannot be said for a Millwall side that suffered a 4-1 drubbing at league one Southend this weekend. That was a result that compounded misery for the Lions who have suffered a retched run of results over the festive period. Not to mention the sacking of manager Steve Lomas even if Millwall fans will seeing the departure of the former West Ham man as a bad thing is unlikely in the extreme. And it is not just Millwall fans that will be bemoaning an F.A. cup defeat to lower league opposition. Aston Villa, West Ham, Leeds (had to get that in), Doncaster, and Barnsley will all be looking at their upcoming fixtures as chances to get themselves back on track, rather than an opportunity to keep momentum up.
Hopefully Huddersfield can now maintain their decent form and get the points on the board to secure survival in the Championship as soon as possible. This has to be our most realistic aim and the one that is currently, financially at least, the minimum requirement.
On a personal level some of my most memorable day's watching Huddersfield have been in the F.A. cup. The Liverpool game in 1999 in front of a packed, then, Alfred McAlpine stadium springs to mind as well as the trip to Chelsea in 2008. The cup will never lose its magic for Huddersfield fans who still sing about our two cup wins in the 1920's. But it also carries a current importance for all teams competing in it, not only for cup glory but confidence in the league as well. Just ask Aston Villa's players and fans.
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