2012/13: FA Cup Fourth Round – Huddersfield Town v Leicester City

LCFCFive months ago, the 2012/13 FA Cup opening weekend took place and I was amongst a crowd of 71 for the Preliminary Qualifying tie between Garforth Town and West Yorkshire neighbours Wakefield. On that overcast day on the last Saturday of August, Garforth made it through to the First Qualifying Round with a 1-0 win. Unlike previous years, this season I’ve not made a beeline for attending games in the ‘Oldest Cup competition in the World’.

However, on the last Saturday in January it is to the John Smith’s Stadium for the Fourth Round game between Huddersfield Town and Leicester City that I set off for. The reasons, well it’s easy to reach by train and the tickets are only priced at £10/£5. Indeed The Terriers have also priced their next Championship fixture in midweek against Crystal Palace at the same reduced rate. Chairman Dean Hoyle explains in his programme notes, this is to demonstrate the clubs, “…commitment to giving value to supporters…” making the game “…as affordable as possible…in the aftermath of Christmas…” With Leicester City taking up their full 4,000 allocation, the Huddersfield faithful hardly took up the chairman’s offer with gusto as only 7,945 added to The Foxes contingent. Now this could have been down to the weather conditions, although despite the snow the day before, Saturday was a bright winter’s day. It may have been down to the fact that Huddersfield had not won in the league for twelve games or a protest by some fans at the sacking of manager Simon Grayson. However, the clubs have to look at themselves and take some of the blame. Over recent years teams from all the four divisions have devalued the FA Cup be playing weakened sides. Indeed for this game Town made four changes to the team beaten 4-0 at Watford last week while City made five alterations to the eleven that beat Middlesbrough 1-0 last Friday. So even with the offer of a ticket for a tenner, fans appear not to want to watch what they perceive as second-string players turning out. Another interesting aspect of the game yesterday was that the usual 76 page programme was abandoned in favour of a 36 page offering. What does that say? And as for the chairman’s desire to produce value for money for supporters, let me do the maths for you. The usual Championship Huddersfield Town programme (Give Us An H [GUAH]), costs £3 and works out at 4p a page, the FA Cup offering worked out at 6p a page – interesting don’t you think.

On the pitch, the first-half was a pretty forgettable and disjointed; perhaps not surprising given the team changes on both sides. The only real chance came on twenty minutes, when an effort from Martyn Waghorn slid just past the left hand post of Alex Smithies in the Huddersfield goal. The only other entertainment was provided by The Terriers fans who ran through their repertoire of songs and chants, including “Smile A While” and “Town will tear you apart” (to the tune of New Order’s “love will tear us apart”). Thankfully, the second-half started more brightly as Huddersfield took charge with chances falling to Lee Novak and James Vaughan. In response, Leicester brought on Chris Wood and David Nugent on the hour mark, with Huddersfield introducing Sean Scannell shortly afterwards. The introduction of all the substitutes lifted the game and with both sets of supporters finding their voice, the game at last had the feel of a Cup-tie. Suddenly it was end-to-end stuff as Wood forced Smithies into a decent save, and was then followed by chances for Novak and Vaughan. Then on seventy three minutes, Town were awarded a penalty as Jack Hunt was fouled by Lloyd Dyer, which allowed Lee Novak the chance to calmly stroke home the spot-kick. Huddersfield were in control and shortly after Vaughan somehow contrived to miss from inside the six-yard box, whilst a Peter Clarke header was cleared off the line from a corner. However, on eighty two minutes, Leicester made Town pay for the missed opportunities. Ritchie De Laet received the ball wide out on the right, crossed and after a dummy from Lloyd Dyer, Chris Wood smartly finished; a clinical goal. That was the final decisive action of the game and both sides face doing it all again in a replay at The King Power Stadium. How will The Foxes price the tickets for the replay? What sort of attendance will the game draw? What sides will the clubs put out? Have the recent years meant the answers are already known or can the FA Cup turn the tide?

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Posted January 26, 2013 by Editor in category "Football Features

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