69 min Just before the goal, there was a sub for Cardiff: Ollie Tanner on for Isaak Davies, who put in a shift as the lone striker. Tanner’s role could be even more lonesome as it’s all Leeds now.
66 min The short corner was well worked, going sideways rather than back and leaving the supporting player, Sam Greenwood, with time to line up his chip. Rodrigo did what Gnonto couldn’t in the first half, getting between the defenders and making sure he headed the ball down. So we now have the scoreline from 2002, but this time the momentum is with Leeds.
GOAL! Cardiff 2-1 Leeds (Rodrigo 65)A short corner and, of all things, a proper header!
62 min Chance! Leeds have their umpteenth corner and Struijk gets a free header that he can only glance past the post.
60 min Leeds have been “lifeless,” Ally McCoist reckons. Toothless, for sure. Here comes the subs: Rodrigo for Summerville, Wober for Gyabi, and Drameh for Kristensen.
55 min Leeds threaten down the left, with Summerville, but Tom Sang gets his tackles just right, as he needs to after picking up an early yellow. Marsch seem to be preparing three subs.
51 min Cardiff, so purposeful when they do get forward, win a corner on the right, and then win the header as Curtis Nelson nods back across the goalmouth. What have you got, Jesse?
51 min A glimmer for Leeds as Joe Gelhardt gets a flick on the end of a cross and Jak Alnwick finally has to make a save. It’s a comfortable one, the kind that allows a keeper to sink to the floor and waste a bit of time.
49 min Leeds are getting plenty of possession again, but possibly not enjoying it as they struggle to find any kind of cutting edge. Get Rodrigo on!
46 min Leeds get the second half under way. No subs yet, though Max Wober has been seen going through a serious warm-up. As Clive Tyldesley points out, there are swathes of empty seats around the ground, which seems a hell of a shame.
HALF-TIME! Cardiff 2-0 LeedsWelcome to the FA Cup, Mr Marsch. Leeds have had two-thirds of the possession but none of the shots on target. Cardiff have been clinical – amazingly so for a team who seldom trouble the scorers in the Championship – and they deserve their lead. Leeds do tend to show resilience, so this isn’t over yet, but Marsch surely needs to bring on Rodrigo and Harrison soon. Time for a cup of tea.
45 min Cardiff get upfield again and Oto, hemmed in on the left wing, delights the crowd by using a rabona to get out of jail. There will be three added minutes.
41 min Jak Alnwick, in goal for Cardiff, hasn’t played for months, but when he finds himself in a one-on-one he does everything right, racing out to clear. And then, as a cross is whipped in, he plays a good decisive punch.
39 min The game settles into a pattern again – a much more even one than before, as Cardiff, ten feet taller now, fancy their chances of adding a third on the counter. Leeds have a good chance from a corner but the header, from Gnonto, is wayward.
“Nice to experience your mbm for first time,” says Jeff Sachs. “Am watching snooker masters, Murphy vs. Robertson…. while reading mbm….. snooker seems more exciting right now.” This, you’ll gather, was written before the goals.
32 min This is a beauty. After some build-up on the right, Andy Rinomhota floats a gorgeous left-footed chip over the back line. Sheyi Ojo, clean through after a simple angled run, takes it effortlessly on his chest and slams it into the top of the net with his right. It’s the kind of FA Cup goal you know you’ll be seeing a lot more of.
GOAL!! Cardiff 2-0 Leeds (Ojo 31)Another one!
Sheyi Ojo of Cardiff City scores. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images29 min Leeds react to this setback by getting two yellow cards. Struijk’s is for a foul, Gnonto’s for a dive. “Leeds, Leeds falling apart again,” sing the home fans, to a well-known tune from Joy Division.
25 min And it did come from a slip at the back. Pascal Struijk seemed unaware that Mark Harris was snapping at his heels. Harris’s shot was saved by Joel Robles but the ball stayed alive, Cardiff had enough people in the box to win it and Jadon Philogene slotted it away very calmly. That is the definition of “against the run of play”.
GOAL! Cardiff 1-0 Leeds (Philogene 24)Cardiff go into an unlikely lead!
Jaden Philogene of Cardiff City scores the first goal . Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty ImagesJaden Philogene of Cardiff City celebrates after he scores the opening goal. Photograph: Gareth Everett/Huw Evans/REX/Shutterstock20 min Leeds have some possession before a slip-up at the back gives Cardiff a glimmer. That might be their best hope. Whenever there’s a ball to be won, Leeds have about four men around it to Cardiff’s two. Summerville, moving better now, has a chance in the inside-left channel but he curls it over.
16 min Cardiff’s best moment since that early corner as some quick passing on the left sends Sheyi Ojo away. He thinks he’s won a corner, but the ref is having none of it.
14 min Cardiff, ITV informs me, are the lowest-scoring team in the Championship. Leeds are certainly getting into the area with the greatest of ease. They’re not yet making the pressure tell but there’s a lovely jinking run from Gyabi, dribbling with both feet at once before having his shot blocked.
12 min Leeds win a corner, then another, but nothing comes of either one.
9 min It’s raining hard, and that has something to do with the first yellow card of the afternoon. Tom Sang of Cardiff dives in for a water-sliding tackle on Summerville and wins the ball but gets a lot of the man too. Summerville stays down for a while, then walks gingerly off.
8 min Leeds are back on top, with Crysencio Summerville looking sharp. Apologies in advance for all the typos I will inflict on him today.
5 min Cardiff finally manage to get out of their own third. Curtis Nelson does some good chasing to win a corner, but nobody can get a touch on it.
We have an email. “Never mind the benches!” says Jeremy Boyce. “Hi Tim, Happy New Year.” And to you. “As I say, and to paraphrase the Pistols’ debut album title… Never mind the Benches, It’s the Supporters! Both sets are obviously off their trolleys and there’ll be a cracking ‘atmosphere’’.
“I’m a simple country lad (Shrewsbury) and have had the pleasure of visiting Ninian Park back in the day for an away Mighty Shrews fixture where we were serenaded with incessant Sheepsha**er tributes. As we said at the time, they should know. But also a die-hard NotSoNastyAsTheyUsedToBeLeeds fan (blame my parents/grandparents) marching on together with the rest of them and generally trampling on anyone else’s sensible parts who gets in the way.
“My forecast ? Can’t see it being goal-less. A potentially fun 2-3 on the pitch, much more to appreciate from the terraces. Hope they’ve got enough security on duty…”
3 min It’s all been Leeds so far and the first attempt on goal comes from Darko Gyabi, ex-Man City, who whips a right-footed shot just wide.
The players are in the tunnel, wearing kits that are a traditionalist’s dream. All blue plays all white. Nothing against funky colours, but I’m still recovering from going to Old Trafford the other night and finding that Bournemouth had come as a box of violet creams.
Jesse Marsch is on ITV, speaking from a dense thicket of Emirates branding. “I’m excited,” he says. “Cup matches carry a lot of weight and the FA Cup has such a historic presence. We also know as a club we haven’t advanced past this round in a few years [five, actually] and we’re totally focused on coming here and fighting for everything. We know our fan base has a love of this tournament, and the club has history in it.”
Marsch has made seven changes, but insists it’s not rotation. “A lot of the guys aren’t ready to play,” he says, “so even if this was a league match our line-up would be pretty similar.” He mentions Max Wober, the centre-back Leeds have just signed from RB Salzburg for a reported £11m, and says he’ll probably come off the bench. Anyone getting the feeling that this game could be all about the subs?
A tale of two benchesSo, plenty of changes from both managers. Jesse Marsch puts his two biggest threats, Rodrigo and Harrison, on the bench, although that means another start for the exciting Wilfried Gnonto, who should get the travelling fans going.
Mark Hudson’s bench is interesting in a different way: he gives a first taste of a senior squad to two teenagers, Morgan Wigley, a striker for the Under-18s, and Lewys Benjamin, a goalie who seems to be only 16. Benjamin is almost beyond the reach of Google, though there is this story about him signing for the Under-9s in 2015. If the caption is accurate, he’s the tall kid in the picture, second from the right. Both teens are surely an FA Cup hero waiting to happen.
Team sheet: Leeds
Team sheet: Cardiff
Preamble: look back in rancourAfternoon everyone and welcome to an FA Cup tie that is dripping with history. The last time Cardiff entertained Leeds in the FA Cup, 21 years ago this week, the game was so rivetingly rancorous that it ended up getting its own Wikipedia page.
Leeds were top of the table – yes, the Premier League table – while Cardiff were 10th in the third tier. Leeds had Rio Ferdinand, Alan Smith, Mark Viduka and Robbie Fowler, but Cardiff had Ninian Park. To describe it as a bearpit would be to risk a lawsuit from the bears.
Sure enough, Leeds lost. The shock sent them into a slump (no league wins for two months, according to my omniscient colleague Rob Smyth) and the slump turned into a spiral. Five and a half years later, the team in the third tier was them.
It is, of course, a very different Leeds who make the trip to Wales today. Their bright-eyed American manager, Jesse Marsch, brings so little baggage that he has never even been in charge for an FA Cup match. And Ninian Park has given way to the less evocative Cardiff City Stadium. But history does have a habit of hanging around. The two sides have met 22 times since that toxic day in 2002 and the score is 14-3 to Cardiff.
They may be languishing near the bottom of the Championship, but Cardiff are above Blackpool, who demolished Nottingham Forest yesterday. And what’s a 26-place gulf between enemies? If Cardiff can cope with Leeds’ hyperactivity, this could be a classic.