Game On…..Time To Meet The Challenge

Wolves’ Task Is To Reverse Derby Cup Trend

Mick McCarthy – the last manager to lead Wolves into an FA Cup tie against Albion. Picture by Rob Clayton.

Wolves have earned a crack at trying to redress the FA Cup balance with Albion after their chaotic replay victory over Brentford last night.

The 3-2 Molineux success means Gary O’Neil’s side have beaten the Londoners twice in three weeks, with a third-round draw achieved with ten men in between – and a return still to come in the League in the West Midlands on February 10.

Looming larger for now, though, is the round-four assignment at The Hawthorns a week on Sunday – a tie which has assumed a rare curiosity value.

Not since the final game of the Mick McCarthy era in 2012 have the two Black Country rivals met other than in empty grounds during the covid-hit 2020-21 season.

In addition, it is 17 years since they faced each other in the Cup and no fewer than 93 seasons since they were in opposition in this competition at Albion.

And, as if they need any extra inspiration, Wolves will go into the tie knowing they have been second best to their rivals in knock-out football over many decades.

In 2006-07, the season in which McCarthy’s Wanderers accomplished the unlikely feat of reaching the play-offs before losing gamely to their nearest and dearest, they also hosted their neighbours in a fourth-round FA Cup game they lost 3-0.

The last meeting of the clubs in the competition prior to that was nearly half a century earlier in 1961-62, when Molineux was also the setting for a round-four clash the visitors won 2-1.

Baggies domination of knock-out meetings was also evident when they won 2-1 at Wolves in the third round in 1955-56 and we have to go back to 1948-49 for the last time the gold flag was flying high in celebration of Black Country supremacy in the Cup when they beat Albion with a Jimmy Mullen goal in the quarter-final on the way to winning the competition.

The line-ups from the programme for the 1962 FA Cup meeting of Wolves and Albion at Molineux.

By contrast, the 1930-31 campaign was one which ended with Albion as Cup winners, their journey including a sixth-round 2-1 win at Molineux in front of 47,000 after the sides had drawn 1-1 at The Hawthorns four days earlier.

So Wolves – at a time when they are in a very comfortable Premier League position while their hosts might be distracted by their Championship promotion challenge – have a major historical wrong to right in 11 days’ time.

We will be taking at least one more look at the background to the tie over the next week and a half.

 

 

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