FA Cup 4th Round

Following the drama of the League Cup during the week, it was the FA Cup’s turn to shine this weekend as the 4th Round of the competition got under way. Despite a couple of quiet days, weather-wise, the snow re-appeared on Friday evening and by Saturday morning, the countryside was once again a sea of white. In a chilly wind under blue skies, I de-iced the car, packed the thermals, and crept out of the village along the glacier that was Park Road, arriving half an hour later at Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium, for their match against Premier League rivals and competition contenders, Manchester City.

Banks of snow sat piled up against the sides of the car parks, as hordes of stewards in their fluorescent orange jackets guided us into spaces chosen by themselves, no doubt conscious of their responsibilities after the farcical nature of the previous snowy day there almost exactly a year ago, when the car park ground to a halt after the game and many people, including myself, took almost two hours just to get out onto the road.

When I got inside the ground, I left my bags inside the photographers’ room and decided to head outside for some pictures of the snow. I’m glad I did, because the match itself proved to be an immensely mundane affair, with City emerging 0-1 winners thanks to a soft goal at the far end of the pitch from where I was sitting…

 

Piles of snow outside the front entrance to the Britannia Stadium
Piles of snow outside the front entrance to the Britannia Stadium

 

Ryan Shotton of Stoke battles with Carlos Tevez of Man City
Ryan Shotton of Stoke battles with Carlos Tevez of Man City

 

After such a disappointing trip to the Britannia Stadium, I headed off to the far side of Manchester the next day, to see Oldham Athletic take on Liverpool in the 4pm televised match. This already had more going for it in terms of pictures, with a lower league side pitted against Premier League opposition, being played at an old, somewhat-dilapidated stadium in front of a passionate crowd. The upset was on, and the upset came good, with Oldham winning the match 3-2 thanks to a winning header from Reece Wabara…

 

The floodlights pylon stands tall prior to the match at Boundary Park
The floodlights pylon stands tall prior to the match at Boundary Park

 

Souvenir pins and badges for sale before the game
Souvenir pins and badges for sale before the game

 

Luis Suarez of Liverpool battles with Cliff Byrne of Oldham
Luis Suarez of Liverpool battles with Cliff Byrne of Oldham

 

The sun goes down behind the silhouetted floodlights at Boundary Park
The sun goes down behind the silhouetted floodlights at Boundary Park

 

Reece Wabara of Oldham scores their winning goal
Reece Wabara of Oldham scores their winning goal

 

Oldham players celebrate in the dressing room after the match
Oldham players celebrate in the dressing room after the match
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