Bluebirds v Blades. FA Cup match preview

Last updated : 02 January 2004 By Michael Morris
A match against Sheff Utd may not initially hit home as being a glamorous fixture but there is plenty of history to make the tie very interesting.

Sheff Utd have won the FA Cup 4 times. The last time they lifted the trophy at Wembley was in 1925. Their opponents that day had hoped to take the English FA Cup over the border to Wales. Yes it was Cardiff City who challenged Utd but it was the Blades who won the game 1 - 0 to secure their 4th cup success. They had previously won in 1899 over Derby County, in 1902 after a replay against Southampton and in 1915 against Chelsea.

Cardiff made history 2 years later when on April 23rd, 1927 the Dragons got their own back on St George and took the Cup home to Wales.

A year or two ago Sheff Utd would have been seen as a top tie for City. Now we are in the same division the glamour is not quite the same.

City will not find it easy against Neil Warnock's men. Last season they were denied a Millennium Stadium final by Arsenal. The Gunners winning the semi final at Old Trafford. Utd also made the semi finals in the League Cup.

This season it's advantage Utd after a 5 - 3 win at Bramall Lane. All 8 goals coming in the second half.

There will be a one minute silence before the game to remember Gil Reece, the Welsh international played for both City and Utd.

The match tomorow will be reffed by Paul Taylor of Hertfordshire. The last time he took control of a Cardiff game we beat Port Vale 2 - 0 on a Tuesday night in the Potteries in Feb 2003.

The teams have met on two other occasions in the Cup. Cardiff won 3 - 1 in Yorkshire in 1972 in a round 3 game while in 1999 Utd beat City 4 - 1 at Bramall Lane. Their reward was a trip to Highbury to face Arsenal in round 5.

Utd are set to name a line up that will include Wales international Robert Page, hat trick hero (against City) Peter Ndlovu.

Utd possible: Kenny, Kozluk, Jagielka, Page, Whitlow, Ndlovu, McCall, Montgomery, Tonge, Lester, Ward.

The Blades could include new loan signing Dean Sturridge. The striker has been given permission by Wolves to play against Cardiff if selected.

Cardiff will field their strongest posible team. Lennie had thought about rotating the squad but with recent results going against the Bluebirds Lennie will use the game to give his best XI the chance to get back to winning ways.

More team news will follow on Friday night but I would expect Robert Earnshaw to get his place back while Daniel Gabbidon is doubtful after receiving stitches in a wound at Watford last week. Alan Lee could be involved after recovering from injury.

City likely to be: Margetson, Weston, Prior, Vidmar, Barker, Langley, Boland, Kavanagh, Whalley, Earnshaw, Thorne.

The game kicks off at 12 noon. A directive set by South Wales police. A ridiculous decision. Especially when it's been revealed that the league game will be played at 5:35pm to be live on Sky.

I'm not bothered about Utd's fans having to leave early, I've been there and done that enough times this season but I would have liked to have had a civilised day involving lunch ahead of the game. Oh well a rushed burger it is then.

Lennie has said ahead of the game

"The cup can be a distraction. Sometimes it's a game a manager would prefer to do without. But on this occasion the FA Cup has become a focal point for Cardiff. OK, three points aren't at stake in this match, but it's important we give our fans something to cheer."

Come on City. A win will be a huge morale boost. Should the game be drawn the replay will be at Bramall Lane most likely on Tuesday 13th January, 2004.