Football: Wednesday's secret weapon demolishes dream

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The Independent Online
Bradford City 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1

There was a German-Australian, a Portuguese, a Brazilian and an Italian involved in yesterday's FA Cup derby at Valley Parade, but the goal that sent Sheffield Wednesday into the quarter-finals might have been stamped "Made in Yorkshire".

It arrived with only five minutes of an absorbing contest remaining. Cruelly for Bradford City, the decisive touch was supplied by their Middlesbrough- born defender, Nicky Mohan. In attempting to divert a shot by a Sheffielder, Ritchie Humphreys, after a strong run and cross by a Barnsley man, David Hirst, he merely succeeded in wrong-footing his goalkeeper.

Humphreys, who had initiated the move in Wednesday's half, was playing only because Guy Whittingham suffered broken ribs nine days earlier. David Pleat, the Premiership club's manager, expressed delight afterwards that no one at Hillsborough, from the players to the washroom ladies, had leaked word of the injury. Perhaps it is as well that Humphreys does not have a brother in the Channel Islands.

Pleat, himself a native of Nottingham, admitted that he used Forest's capitulation at Chesterfield as part of the text for his team talk. Having correctly predicted that Wednesday would encounter a "physical, fast, venomous atmosphere and attitude" he cannot have been disappointed.

His opposite number, Chris Kamara, unfairly described Wednesday's display as "dogged". The four yellow cards they incurred in the space of 10 minutes early on owed more to over-zealous refereeing than any sinister abandonment of Pleat's principles.

Impressively as the First Division strugglers strove to live up to their manager's progressive ideals, Kevin Pressman did not have to save a single shot. In contrast, Andy Booth struck the woodwork for Wednesday shortly before the goal and also forced an athletic stop from Mark Schwarzer during mounting second-half pressure.

However, there was praise from Pleat for Kamara, whom he felt had picked "a very clever team". He added: "When I see a Premiership team-sheet, I usually know where everyone's going to play. I'd watched Bradford twice, but when I saw their line-up I wondered how and where various people would operate."

The pre-match hype had centred on Chris Waddle, whom Kamara gave a stage after Pleat had released him. The former England player, in his 37th year, hit several wickedly flighted long passes, but was unable to influence proceedings the way he did in Bradford's triumph at Everton.

Instead it was a day for lesser-known colleagues to demonstrate their potential. Des Hamilton, a local product on the right of midfield, showed skill and speed in abundance. Andrew O'Brien, less than half Waddle's age, performed an outstanding marking job on Benito Carbone, but Bradford were seldom able to support their new Brazilian striker, Edinho, in the numbers required to undermine the imperious Des Walker.

Just when it seemed that the tie would require a replay, Mohan made it Wednesday's Sunday. Pleat, whose side have now lost only once in 18 games, considered they deserved their success. Needless to say, Kamara disagreed. "We had a little dream," he said. "My players couldn't see themselves losing but now we've got to go back to making sure we stay up."

Concentrating on the League is a time-honoured pursuit for Cup losers. Wednesday, who last won the trophy in 1935, have a more appealing prospect to occupy their thoughts.

Goal: Mohan og (85) 0-1.

Bradford City (3-5-2): Schwarzer; Mohan, Dreyer, O'Brien; Hamilton, Sergio Pinto (Liburd, 81), Duxbury, Waddle, Jacobs; Edinho, Kiwomya (Midgley, 87). Substitute not used: Sas.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Nolan, Walker, Newsome, Nicol; Humphreys, Atherton, Hyde, Pembridge; Booth, Carbone (Hirst, 79). Substitutes not used: Blinker, Clarke (gk).

Referee: G Barber (Warwick).

Bookings: Bradford: Jacobs. Wednesday: Atherton, Pembridge, Hyde, Nolan.

Man of the match: Walker. Attendance: 17,830.

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