Huddersfield 2 Birmingham City 1: Brandon and Beckett help Huddersfield banish Blues

McLeish suffers painful introduction to the Cup as Terriers defy the odds
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The last time these two clubs met on the FA Cup trail the Watergate scandal was about to break and Mark Spitz, Olga Korbut and Co were preparing for the Munich Olympic Games. Birmingham were in their penguin-strip pomp back then, in March 1972, when goals from Bob Latchford, Bob Hatton and Malcolm Page secured a 3-1 sixth-round victory at St Andrew's.

The pitch at the Galpharm Stadium yesterday was also a throwback to the 1970s, something similar to the Baseball Ground more like the beach and the bunkers at St Andrews, the Scottish coastal and golf town, than St Andrew's, the football ground in England's Second City. For Alex McLeish and his players, it certainly proved to be a sand trap.

Not that the Birmingham manager blamed the heavily-sanded, uneven surface for his first experience in the English FA Cup being on the losing end of an upset. A winner nine minutes from time by Chris Brandon consigned McLeish and his Premier League side to defeat and earned a famous victory for Huddersfield, 41 places and two leagues below them in the pecking order of English football.

"Credit to Huddersfield for taking their chance," McLeish said. "They showed more composure than us. We showed nothing like enough. The players will be embarrassed by it because they'll get bad headlines. I will as well but that's the business that we're in and we deserve it for this performance."

Such magnanimity was admirable, and so was the application, cohesion and skill shown by a Huddersfield side weakened by injuries and suspension. The mid-table League One side were without Andy Booth, their talismanic front man, Danny Cadamarteri and others but still punched above their weight.

"We were maybe lucky that Birmingham were a little bit below par but the players gave everything and deserved what they got," Andy Ritchie, the Huddersfield manager, reflected.

His Terriers were tenacious underdogs from the start yesterday, snatching the lead with four minutes on the clock. It was somewhat handed to them, Maik Taylor's failure to hold on to a low shot by Danny Schofield presenting Luke Beckett with the simplest of tasks in turning the ball home from close range. The surface had not helped the back-pedalling Birmingham defence but it was the same handicap for both teams to contend with. It would have been easier to build sandcastles than attacking moves but Huddersfield were the better at attempting the latter until Birmingham managed to level in the 19th minute.

They did so after Fabrice Muamba surged clear of the home guard from deep on the left. The Arsenal academy graduate failed to produce a clean finish, affording Matt Glennon a comfortable diving save but, like Taylor before him, the Town keeper could only parry the ball and Gary O'Connor made no mistake in hitting the unguarded target from 10 yards.

Huddersfield had the chance to regain the lead before the interval but, from Robbie Williams' curling free-kick, Brandon's diving header was saved by Taylor. They also spurned an opportunity four minutes into the second-half, Andy Holds-worth failing to control Joe Skarz's invitation from the left with the Birmingham goal at his mercy.

Birmingham looked the more likely winners for much of the second period, Mikael Forssell forcing saves from Glennon and Gary McSheffrey steering a shot wide from the edge of the Town penalty area. With nine minutes to go, though, the cost of their misses added up. Beckett broke down the right and hoisted a cross to the far post, where Brandon's left foot did the rest.

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