Poor, unfortunate Worcester. Having gone out of the FA Cup to a Huddersfield side who played the second half with 10 men, the financially challenged part-timers from the Conference North were no sooner in the bath than news filtered through that their conquerors would play the champions, Chelsea, in the third round.
The vast majority of the capacity crowd of 4,163 at St George's Lane came hoping for a repeat of Worcester's 1959 defeat of Liverpool, when the decisive goal went in off the backside of one Harry Knowles. While never looking 87 places better, the team sitting second in League One just about deserved a success secured by Chris Brandon's goal.
It arrived shortly after the hour, when Huddersfield might have expected to be under pressure after the 44th-minute dismissal of Danny Schofield for a second booking. Brandon, one of the few visitors with experience of the non-League circuit after spells at Stafford Rangers and Bradford Park Avenue, beat Danny McDonnell with a low shot from 18 yards.
Brandon's nickname is "Brando", yet if 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge has the potential to turn into a footballing version of Apocalypse Now, his manager, Peter Jackson, preferred to accentuate the positive. "It's a fantastic reward," he said. "I can now look forward to pitting my wits against Jose Mourinho, though first we have to focus on this week's game with Milton Keynes."
Huddersfield's chief executive, Andrew Watson, felt the impact of the tie in the town would be similar to the effect this match had on Worcester, except that it would be magnified several times.
How Worcester could have done with Huddersfield's good fortune. Lying 19th in their league, they are £750,000 in debt, a sum they might even have been able to wipe out with a televised game against Chelsea.
Perhaps the omens were against them before a ball was kicked. The University of Worcester cheerleaders (one of those new-fangled degrees, obviously) were poised, in blue mini-skirts, to bring an American flavour to the pre-match build-up, when the PA failed to provide their music.
But then, as Worcester's player-manager, Andy Preece, had noted, the club had been "asleep for 20 years". Suddenly awaking to find themselves facing opponents who could be in the Championship next season, they found the gap in quality just too big to bridge.
Things might have been different had Chris Smith made a cleaner connection with a third-minute shot. Paul Rachubka made a sprawling save, but soon after Brandon's goal, which came as Worcester were flummoxed by Nathan Clarke's long throw-in, the goalkeeper almost threw his good work away.
Under no pressure, he sent his clearance to Leon Kelly, whose pace had been testing early on. After partially redeeming himself by blocking the shot, Rachubka was relieved to see David Mirfin clear Tom Warmer's follow-up shot off the line.
Worcester, ironically, were more dangerous against 11 men. Schofield, who was dangerous in an end-to-end first half, was cautioned by a card-happy referee after seven minutes for taking a free-kick too quickly. His second yellow card, for a blatant dive, was more justified, as Jackson agreed, though he called the first booking "ridiculous".
Schofield was not the only one who did not see out the match. In what may be an FA Cup "first", an invader dressed as Santa Claus charged around the pitch late in the game before being intercepted by stewards. Last seen being led to the Canal End exit, he may have brought a whole meaning to the term "early bath".
Goal: Brandon (62) 0-1.
Worcester City (3-5-2): McDonnell; Smith, Lyttle, Thompson; Warner, Colley (Wedgbury, 86), Hyde (Clegg, 64), Warmer (Preece, 76), Hines; Kelly, Webster. Substitutes not used: Hodnett, McDonald.
Huddersfield Town (4-4-2): Rachubka; Holdsworth, N Clarke, Mirfin, Adams; Brandon, Worthington, Hudson, Schofield; Booth, Taylor-Fletcher (Abbott, h-t). Substitutes not used: Senior (gk), Carss, T Clarke, Collins.
Referee: I Williamson (Berkshire).
Booked: Worcester Webster, Hyde, Lyttle; Huddersfield Schofield, Worthington. Sent off: Schofield (44).
Man of the match: N Clarke.
Attendance: 4,163.Reuse content