Cup magic is good for all

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It’s not quite 1993 all over again but the magic of the FA Cup is definitely in the air across Sheffield this winter.

Sheffield Wednesday’s victory over Rochdale on Saturday was typical of the Owls’ form under their now new Head Coach Stuart Gray.

Playing on a miserable January day at the ground of a strong lower league team could have provided the type of cup shock that has made the famous old tournament so popular around the world.

But it wasn’t to be as Wednesday displayed resiliance and quality to withstand the sending off of left back Joe Mattock to send their fans back across the Pennines hoping for a good draw in the fifth round.

A home tie is all you can ask for and, on the face of it, the Owls have been handed a very winnable last 16 match against fellow Championship club Charlton Athletic.

Sheffield United, too, ended their fourth round encounter with just 10 men.

The Blades could maybe consider themselves unlucky that they didn’t manage to knock-out a second consecutive Premier League club as Fulham rallied from a goal down to force a replay at Craven Cottage.

The sending off of United captain Michael Doyle was a turning point with the Blades looking good to progress up to that point.

If Nigel Clough’s team can beat Fulham they’ll return to Bramall Lane for either Championship side Nottingham Forest or League One club Preston North End.

For many managers the FA Cup is seen as a hindrance to the league programme.

But once you start to get to the business end of the competition then dreams begin to form. Wednesday, after all, could be just 180 minutes away from their first visit to the new Wembley Stadium.

The cup has also been a bright spot in United’s battle against relegation to the fourth tier of English football. The success or otherwise of the two football clubs affects the mood across the city, of that there is no doubt.

Hopefully a bit of the cup’s magic will remain for a while longer.