EFL Football Manager Cup | Quarter Final Review
The quarter finals were undoubtedly the most closely contested round of the EFL Football Manager Cup yet. As the tournament heads into the semi-finals and finals this weekend, the competitiveness was ramped up to a new level. We saw a couple of shock results, extra-time drama and a thrilling last minute winner. Here’s the full round-up.
4-3 Thriller Sends Camp Out
Birmingham City have been involved in some of the tournament’s most dramatic moments and their quarter final tie against Swansea got heart rates racing once again. Lee Camp’s men got off to a flyer through Lukas Jutkiewicz’s sixth minute goal. Rhian Brewster levelled things up nine minutes later before a flurry of goals either side of half-time. George Byers nudged Swansea ahead on the 40-minute mark, but Swansea boss Gareth Richards’ half-time team-talk had to be rewritten when Gary Gardner struck late in first half injury time.
Six minutes after the restart, Lukas Jutkiewicz had the chance to double his tally from the penalty spot but missed. Luckily for the striker his rebound fell nicely for him and he tucked the ball away at the second time of asking. Bersant Celina provided another twist when he bagged the equaliser to make it 3-3 just two minutes later.
Both sides pushed forward in search of the winner and it came in dramatic and spectacular style in the last minute of injury time. Conor Gallagher found his namesake Connor Roberts on the right hand side and, with everyone expecting him to cross it in, he pulled the ball back to Byers about 25 yards out. Byers lashed a first-time piledriver into the bottom corner to spark wild celebrations for the Swansea fans and put the rubber stamp on a sublime man of the match performance from Byers.
Camp was understandably gutted to exit the competition but still found time to do one last post-match interview.
Heading into the quarter finals, Preston had been earmarked as one of the favourites to lift the title. They came up against a Brentford side that needed penalties to see off League One Shrewsbury in Round Two before beating QPR in the Round of 16. It was Brentford though who underlined their title credentials with a dominant display.
After a goalless first half, Ollie Watkins put the Bees ahead from Benrahma’s assist with 20 minutes left on the clock. Sam Jacques’ men followed that up with two goals in injury time. Centre-back Pontus Jansson powered home a header from a corner before Nikos Karelis tucked home from a trademark Brentford long throw with virtually the last kick of the game.
This Country star Charlie Cooper led his Fulham side into battle against Huddersfield having won each of his previous games by a single goal. It’s fair to say his side ran riot in this one though.
Fulham have had a knack of scoring from set-pieces and grabbed two such goals late in the first half through centre-backs Tim Ream and Michael Hector. Karlan Grant’s Huddersfield were reduced to 10 men at the start of the second half when Jonathan Hogg saw red but gave themselves a lifeline when Steve Mounié made it 2-1 bang on 50 minutes. Aboubakar Kamara restored Fulham’s two-goal cushion and the rout was sealed with a brace from Ivan Cavaleiro either side of a Mounié consolation goal.
Joe Lolley’s Nottingham Forest came through a tricky tie against Middlesbrough that went to extra-time. Forest were pushed all the way by Mansfield last time out and would’ve feared the worst when Paddy McNair gave Boro the lead after just 13 minutes. Tiago Silva got the Forest equaliser nine minutes later as Forest started to find their way into the match. Joe Worrall thought he’d won it for the Reds but his late goal was ruled out for offside.
Forest made their dominance count in extra-time with Worrall’s 102nd minute goal not falling foul of the assistant referee’s flag. That strike seemed to buoy Lolley’s men and they had the chance to make it 3-1 when Matty Cash was brought down in the box two minutes later. Ben Watson stepped up but slammed his spot-kick against the post. Lolley had warned that we shouldn’t expect to see Watson scoring again which may have put the midfielder off. Luckily for Forest, John Bostock was on hand to slot in the rebound and grab his first goal of the competition. Lolley’s side saw out the remainder of the game without incident to secure their semi-final spot.
With four elite Championship sides left in the competition, the EFL Football Manager Cup semi-finals feel a bit like the playoffs. Each of the ties are going to be too close to call with all four sides starting to show cup-winning form.
The draw will be covered over on the Football Manager Twitter account tomorrow and the semi-finals and finals will be streamed live on the Football Manager Twitch account.
Don’t forget, the tournament is being run in partnership with Mind, the mental health charity. If you want to donate whatever you can afford then head to the tournament’s JustGiving page.
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