A YEAR on from arguably the most remarkable FA Cup fourth round day in the history of Yorkshire football, the boot is very much on the other foot for the county in the world’s oldest knockout competition.
All three of the White Rose sides still in the competition face ties so tricky that there is a real threat of red faces all round come 5pm.
Hull City, finalists in 2014, and Sheffield Wednesday travel to League One opposition in the form of Bury and Shrewsbury Town respectively, while Leeds United head to crisis club Bolton Wanderers.
On current form, the Yorkshire trio should progress. Or, at the very least, still be in the competition when the fifth round draw is held tomorrow night.
This, though, is the FA Cup, a competition whose propensity to deliver shocks was never better illustrated than at this stage last season when a glorious afternoon saw Bradford City dump out soon-to-be-crowned Premier League champions, Chelsea, as Middlesbrough did the same to Manchester City, then the reigning title holders.
Hull manager Steve Bruce, who lifted the Cup at the old Wembley in 1994 when captain of Manchester United, admits his side will have to be on their guard when facing David Flitcroft’s Shakers at Gigg Lane.
“This tie will be what the FA Cup is all about,” said the 55-year-old, who as the Tigers chief has only lost FA Cup ties to two managers, Flitcroft – then of Barnsley – and Arsene Wenger.
“It is not the most mouthwatering tie but these are the ones that are difficult. If you remember Southend (in 2014), that was arguably as hard as any of the games we had in the run to the final.
“It will be all the traits that make a Cup tie, with a storm blowing over the north west. The pitch will be poor, it will be windy and wet. Conditions that prove to be a leveller. That is what makes the FA Cup. You just want to make sure you are not one of those embarrassments. We have all had one at one stage of our careers but let’s hope it is not us.”
For Hull, the priority this season remains promotion and that is also the case for Wednesday.
The Owls sit sixth in the Championship table and have a crucial game at home to Burnley on Tuesday so head coach Carlos Carvalhal is certain to make sweeping changes for today’s trip to League One strugglers Shrewsbury.
“We are taking the game very seriously,” said the Portuguese. “We will try to win like we do all the games with the team that we think is best to win the game.”
However, when asked if victory over the Shrews today could have a positive impact on the club’s push for the Premier League, Carvalhal added: “I don’t think so.
“Saturday’s game will be completely different to Tuesday. I don’t think it will have any kind of impact. They are different competitions.
“Of course, if you win, you are in a better mood. You will be more happy.”
Leeds complete the trio of sides from within the Broad Acres still in the Cup. When the fourth round draw was made, Steve Evans’s men were left with the possibility of taking on non-League opposition.
However, Bolton beat Eastleigh in a replay to set up a clash that Evans, who took non-League Crawley to Manchester United for a fifth round tie in 2011, hopes can be a stepping stone to a glamour tie later in the competition
“It wasn’t the best experience when you lose 1-0 at Old Trafford,” added the Scot. “We were massively disappointed, as daft as that sounds being a non-League club.
“We gave them a real hiding for the last 35 minutes and camped in their box. But the build-up and being part of that day makes it incredibly special.”
Away from the Cup, Hull hope to complete a loan deal for Manchester United attacking midfielder Nick Powell over the weekend.
Tigers chief Bruce said: “I see his best position being up front. I spoke with Ryan Giggs (assistant manager at Old Trafford) on Thursday and he really likes him.
“He is a forward-thinking player, put it that way. He’s 6ft 2in, he is quick. He was the superstar when he was younger.
“We all remember him scoring the goal he did when he was 17 at Wembley and Manchester United paying a huge fee (of £4m) for him. It hasn’t really worked out for him but, then again, a way through is difficult at Manchester United.
“This can be the perfect stage for him. It has in the past with players like (Robbie) Brady and (James) Chester.”