While most people look ahead to Sunday, the semi final of the FA Cup, I thought it appropriate to take a look back and see how we got there. The more I've thought about it, the more this season seems the perfect one to win it (not that there's a bad season really). It's the year of club legend (and FA Cup winner) Nat Lofthouse's death, and what better way to honour him and his work for the club by winning a major trophy for the first time in 53 years? Based on the way we've played most of the season, and the performance we put out against West Ham, I'm thinking it's possible. Not that this FA Cup run has always displayed our finest football.
You'll be forgiven if you don't remember our first FA Cup match this season, a 2-0 home win over York City. It was the only Premier League vs. non-League fixture in the round, and I'm fairly positive it wasn't even televised. Coyle played largely a second string team, and York took advantage of that, proving themselves harder to beat than originally thought. But win we did, though we left it late, with Kevin Davies' opening goal coming in the 83rd minute. Elmander then sealed our place in the fourth round with a lovely strike in the 89th. Goals can be seen here.
In the fourth round, we drew Wigan, joy of joys. While the first match was actually rather good, it yielded no goals, forcing a replay at the DW. The replay was of lesser quality (as games at the DW tend to be), but in the 66th minute Ivan Klasnic got the job done with the match's only goal. Not that Wigan seemed to bothered about the whole affair, as Martinez made 9 changes from the side he played against Liverpool the match before. It wasn't a pretty performance, but Bolton were through.
We were in the fifth round against Fulham and the quarter final was in sight. Once again Klasnic would score the only goal of the match, this time in the 19th minute. Fulham kept up the pressure and played well, but the Bolton defense played better. Gary Cahill, David Wheater, and Adam Bogdan proved to be the most important players for Bolton, and the 90 minutes went without conceding a goal. Highlights here.
Which brings us to the quarter finals. It was a thrilling game of back and forth scoring that can't really be summed up in a punchy paragraph, so take a bit of a walk down memory lane with Mark. Coyle said of Birmingham post-match they "have quality and tremendous spirit", which of course Bolton experienced about 2 weeks later when we lost to them. But, we won the match that counts, and in just 4 days, the Wanderers will be on the pitch at Wembley again.