Unwanted replay to follow dull cup draw

With priorities focused on league, neither Swansea nor Wednesday keen on extra tie

Swansea City's Kristoffer Nordfeldt saving a shot from Sheffield Wednesday's Adam Reach during yesterday's 0-0 draw in their FA Cup fifth-round clash at Hillsborough.
Swansea City's Kristoffer Nordfeldt saving a shot from Sheffield Wednesday's Adam Reach during yesterday's 0-0 draw in their FA Cup fifth-round clash at Hillsborough.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Carlos Carvalhal said it would be "okay" if his Swansea side did not reach the FA Cup quarter-finals but his body language at the final whistle of yesterday's 0-0 draw at Shieffield Wednesday indicated that the impending replay in south Wales is less than acceptable.

This is what so often happens when weakened teams with other ambitions contest cup ties with their collective mindsets off the pace; they end up with yet another unwanted fixture.

It would have been very different had Wednesday substitute Lucas Joao not shot embarrassingly wide from close range, but he was offside anyway and, in many ways, that academic miss was fitting.

It served as a microcosm of a peculiar sort of afternoon in the south Yorkshire winter sunshine.

Carvalhal, of course, was making his first return to Wednesday, the club which sacked him on Christmas Eve. Now busy masterminding Swansea's recent upturn in form, the Portuguese knows Premier League survival is far more important than the FA Cup despite the Swans not having made the quarters since 1964, and he left little doubt where his priorities lay in his post-match interview.

"It's a score nobody wants," he told with BT Sport. "Maybe in the future, we can think that if the managers and referee agree after the first game, we can go to penalties and we can finish the game today.

"If you had asked us and Wednesday manager (Jos Luhukay), we'd have gone to penalties."



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He had earlier said he was unperturbed by the prospect of potentially losing to the Championship side and sounded as if he meant it.

Carvalhal made six changes from Swansea's last league line-up against Burnley, but the visitors suffered a double injury blow as centre-back Alfie Mawson pulled up in the warmup, while striker Tammy Abraham limped off 23 minutes from time with England manager Gareth Southgate watching from the stands.

Second to every second ball, Swansea seemed vaguely disinterested while Wednesday's best chance to spring an upset came inside the first two minutes when Adam Reach's effort was parried by Swans 'keeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt.

The visitors offered little going forward, but 'keeper Cameron Dawson was forced into a top-drawer save from Mike van der Hoorn's header just before half-time.

It was the afternoon's only real chance and Joao's offside miss at the death felt utterly emblematic.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 18, 2018, with the headline 'Unwanted replay to follow dull cup draw'. Subscribe