Hughes 4 Match Report
Despite taking an early lead, Blues struggled, and the First Division's bottom side had chances of their own to earn a result from the tie. In the Cup though, all that matters is progress, and it was Blues and not Wimbledon who did progress to Round Five.
Steve Bruce opted to reward the players who had performed so magnificently at Chelsea last week with another run out in the first team, despite one or two other players returning. The exception to this was the injured Stephen Clemence, who was replaced in the side by David Dunn. Dunn moved to the wide left role, which meant Bryan Hughes switched inside alongside Robbie Savage.
Wimbledon started the game brightly, looking like a lot of talented young footballers, without any fear, and with nothing to lose, which, in truth, is what they were. However, they were dealt a blow after just 4 minutes, when Hughes put Blues ahead. There was more than a hint of offside when Stern John clipped a ball through towards Hughes and Clinton Morrison. The flag stayed down though, and Hughes clipped the ball expertly over the advancing Steve Banks.
Blues perhaps should have moved on from here, and gone on to expose Wimbledon, but they didn't, and credit must be given to the visitors for that. Before half-time, Blues created little despite their dominance in possession, whilst Wimbledon twice went close. Firstly, livewire forward Jamie Mackie, who is only 17, hit the post when he really should have done better, before Wade Small fired just wide in a not dis-similar position.
This pattern of play continued in the second half. Blues had plenty of possession, but failed to make it count, whilst Wimbledon did look dangerous at times. Dunn limped off for Blues, and was replaced by Mikael Forssell. There was also a return to first team action for Jamie Clapham, who came on for John. Forssell, Morrison and Damien Johnson all went close for Blues. At the other end, Hughes nearly netted his second of the game, when he was fortunate with a clearance from Jobi McAnuff's fine strike. McAnuff captained The Dons, and was a menace to Blues throughout. He will no doubt be the next player to leave The National Hockey Stadium (?) following in the footsteps of Patrick Agyemang, Adam Nowland and Nigel Reo-Coker. With all three of those in their side, Wimbledon may even have sprung an upset.
In the FA Cup, if your name/ball is in the hat/velvet bag/big plastic transparent box when it comes to the draw for the next round on sunday/monday, then you've done ok. When the draw for the next round is done, Blues will be in it, and you can't ask for any more than that.
Blues 1 Wimbledon 0
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