Semi for Citeh

Middlesbrough hadn’t been in a FA Cup semi-final since 1997, when they required a replay to beat third-tier side Chesterfield after a thrilling 3-3 draw at Old Trafford. So the Riverside was pumped up for the visit of Man City, and with the new rule brought in for this stage of the competition meaning that there would be no replay, Boro fans sensed victory.

However, the buzz prior to kick off in the town centre and in the pubs quickly evaporated, as David Silva sliced the ball beyond Brad Guzan after just three minutes.

In fact Guzan produced a number of fine saves to deny Silva, Leroy Sane and deflect an Aguero shot on to the post, as City dominated play.

After the break, Boro had a few moments that panicked the City back four, but the result was put beyond doubt when in-form Argie Sergio Aguero converted from Sane’s low cross to earn his side a Wembley semi-final.

For me, getting a ticket once again came by virtue of a supporter’s kindness. Paul Brockett, a Boro fan and goundhopper who was registered with Boro to get tickets, answered my appeal on Twitter. He got me a ticket for the game and I paid him via bank transfer. Unfortunately, due to Paul’s love of ground hopping, he’d made a mammoth trip down to Somerset, so I never got to meet him in person. But massive thanks to him for his help.

I suspect I shall need the same kind of social media assistance if I’m to bag a semi-final ticket. I came close to winning one when one of my videos of Boro fans drumming prior to this game got nominated for ‘Best Tweet’ in the official FA Cup Twitter account’s #CupStory poll. I lost out in a 4% swing. Gutted. So if any Man City or Arsenal fans are reading this, please get in touch. I’m true to my word and always stick to my promise of paying. A Viles always pays his debts.

No Separating Town and City

It’s fair to say that this season’s FA Cup 5th Round included an eye-catching, mouth-watering array of matches, with many Championship sides hosting Premier League sides, and with two non-league sides still in there (whilst we’re on the topic, well done to Lincoln City for reaching the Quarter Finals. Historic stuff).

Huddersfield versus Man City was one of those eye-catching fixtures, and although both sides made changes – Town 7, City 8 – with both teams having an eye on games they consider of higher importance, it was still an entertaining affair, even if there were no goals.

Going into the game, both sides had eased past their 3rd and 4th round opponents, scoring 8 goals each and conceding none. Something had to give, and although City sprayed the ball around better, as you’d expect given the calibre on show, Town more than matched them for commitment, endeavour and spirit, and restricted them to a handful of chances which were dealt with by ‘keeper Joel Coleman, making only his fourth appearance for the club.

In fact, it was the hosts who had the ball in the net but Phil Billing’s effort was ruled out due to an offside decision.

A replay is the last thing either side needed as they have more pressing agendas, but that’s what they have on Wednesday, March 1, in front of the live BBC cameras. Having spoken to a few Town fans prior to kick off, they said although it would be a nice feather in the club’s cap to knock out the Premier League giants, they saw the game as a ‘distraction’ from the league, in which they currently occupy third place. City supporters were probably thinking the same, although their focus is on the Champions League as the league is all but out of their reach.

As you will see from my photographs, the setting for a game of football could not have been better. It was an incredibly mild February day, with the prolonged Yorkshire sunshine tipping the temperature into the 15 degrees mark.

The atmosphere was buzzing pre-match, and credit must go to the Huddersfield supporters amongst the sell-out crowd – a record attendance at the John Smith’s stadium, 24,129 – as they produced chant after chant. Normally it’s the away support who are the noisiest, but City’s support, despite amassing 4,000, was quiet, and Town fans easily outsung them.

I can’t sign off without mentioning Terry Furness. He was the guy who got me into the game. Huddersfield had put into practise a method to stop Man City fans getting hold of tickets among the home fans. This process meant that in order to get a ticket, you needed to have purchased at least one Huddersfield ticket via the official ticketing service which I had not. I’d been to the Town v Port Vale game and the game at Rochdale but for the former I paid on the day and the latter I decided to sit with the Rochdale supporters.

Terry responded to a Tweet I’d sent bemoaning my decreasing ticket options. After looking back through my timeline and seeing that I wasn’t a City fan, he offered to buy me a ticket. We spoke on the phone and arranged payment and then an e-ticket was emailed to me. What a top bloke! I couldn’t go to the game without at least trying to meet the guy so that’s Terry and I pictured below (I’m on the right).

My focus now is getting a ticket to the replay and then the quarter final match at Middlesbrough.

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Myself and Terry Furness – a top bloke who sorted me out with a ticket.

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The pre-match atmosphere was buzzing in the Yorkshire sunshine.

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