REPORT: HUDDERSFIELD 1 LATICS 4
Latics progress into the quarter finals of the FA Cup with fantastic 4-1 victory away at Huddersfield Town as an Arouna Kone brace a solo goal from Callum McManaman and a stunning drive from James McArthur saw off the Terriers.
Roberto Martinez made six changes from Latics’ last game against Chelsea, with goal scorers McManaman and Kone both coming in to start.
It was evident after just six minutes that McManaman was going to be a threat to the Huddersfield defence when he created the first chance of the game skipping down the left wing before clipping in an inviting cross which was headed just over by Jordi Gomez.
Latics tried to cement their usual controlled style on the game and did so with great effect, limiting the hosts to only a couple of attempted crosses and no shots on target.
As the game head towards the half an hour mark it was McManaman once again creating the danger when he bombed down the left beat full back Jack Hunt and slid in a low ball across the face of goal which was just too far ahead of the in-rushing Arouna Kone.
On 31 minutes Latics grabbed a their deserved lead and their Premier League quality shone through.
McManaman was the name on everybody’s lips as he galloped into the box down the left, switching the ball between both feet to confuse the defence before looping the ball into Alex Smithies’ goal.
Momentum continued after the goal and Latics looked assured all over the pitch.
Nine minutes after the opening goal it was the wonderful wide play of McManaman that was so regularly seen creating Latics’ second.
Another run down the left wing ended in a teasing cross to which Gomez tried first only form Smithies to make an excellent low save but, the ball only trickled away to the keeper’s left where Kone stood with his back to goal, spinning to poke the ball home.
The final four minutes of the half ran down almost without incident until a ball in from Huddersfield’s left side flew through the box and curled towards the back post.
Neil Danns was running in to try and finish but Joel Robles saw the ball wide.
The second half almost started with a bump when Ronnie Stam’s stray pass across the back line fell to half time substitute James Vaughan who shot first time but was met by the quick feet of Joel Robles who beat the ball away.
Latics showed early signs of increasing their lead when Maynor Figueroa drove into the box down the left and lashed the ball into the side netting.
Soon after Latics did make it 3-0 when James McArthur rifled the ball into the top corner from the edge of the area as he was teed up by Gomez after great work down the left between the Spaniard and McManaman.
Just when Latics looked to be cruising Huddersfield clawed one back when a cross from the left by Calum Woods was met by a towering header from substitute Lee Novak who headed the ball in off the post.
The Huddersfield threat increased in the second half as the physical presence of Novak looked to be their main point of attack.
Neil Danns and Jack Hunt used the space on the right hand side to their advantage as they tried to play diagonal balls over the top to their forward on a number of occasions but Roman Golobart and Paul Scharner stood tall in defence to make sure the hosts couldn’t get a second.
As the half went on and Latics got closer and closer to the quarter finals, Jean Beausejour was introduced in place of Gomez and almost immediately added a fourth when his direct run down the left and subsequent cross come shot was parried away for a corner by an outstretched Smithies.
The deal maker came in the 89th minute when Kone’s sharpness showed through as he capitalised on a defensive error by Anthony Gerrard who stumbled on a pass from his keeper.
Kone took the ball on from 20 yards out making a strong run towards goal before lashing the ball high into the net as Smithies stretch to no avail.
Latics’ impressive victory means they’ll be on the road again in the next round as the winner of the Everton and Oldham Athletic fifth round replay will host the quarter final tie.