What an entertaining FA Cup match to cap off the fifth round. It may have looked like a Manchester United 3-1 blowout but it was far from that. League One side Preston North End, who hadn’t won a trophy since the 1938 FA Cup, laid it all out on the field and really looked better than the vastly more talented Manchester United side at certain points of the game. Even though they looked impressive, Preston still fell short to the EPL giants.
After a first half that resulted in zero shots on target from either team, Preston North End went into the locker room thinking that they could take it to Manchester United and grab the lead.
In the 47th minute, Preston North End channeled their 1889 double trophy winning ancestors and grabbed the lead in stunning fashion. Scott Laird put away the first goal and it was pandemonium at Deepdale. Fans were estatic, police were hugging fans and smoke filled the stadium in celebration.
While it looked like Preston was going to score a second goal, it was Manchester United to got the equalizer. Ander Herrera got the equalizer but everyone is talking about Wayne Rooney’s involvement or lack of involvement in the goal.
It can be argued that the goal should have been disallowed because Rooney, in an offside position, was impeding Preston goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann. The FIFA rule states, “Interfering with an opponent means 1) Preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the goalkeeper’s line or vision in movement or 2) making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent.”
Looking at the replay, I can see why it would or wouldn’t be called by referee Phil Dowd. Thinking it over on the replay, it was the right call. Rooney wasn’t blocking Stuckmann’s vision to the ball at any point and was staying still and trying to get away from making contact with the ball. Stuckmann was obviously reacting to Rooney being there because he was thinking that Rooney will tap the ball in on the other side but Rooney did his best to not be a part of the play. It was definitely a time where I wouldn’t have wanted to be Phil Dowd. We have the benefit of the replay and there is probably going to be some who agree and disagree with the call, he has a couple seconds and one chance to see the play to make a game changing decision.
After a great Marouane Fellaini goal after he was denied the goal of the header, we had more controversy involving Wayne Rooney. Rooney won a PK by getting fouled in the box by Stuckmann. At least that’s what it appeared live. The replay showed a different story.
Again, this is another one of those 50/50 calls that I would really have been fine if either call was made. Let’s get one thing out of the way, yes Rooney dived. There was no contact between he and Stuckmann. On the other hand, Stuckmann wasn’t going for the ball and was very clearly going after Rooney. Rooney is jumping to not get hurt but Stuckmann still denied a goal scoring opportunity for making that play. Rooney dived in order to get the call because he didn’t want to earn the PK by getting his legs hit by a sliding Thorsten Stuckmann and possibly getting hurt in the process. In that instance, I can understand the diving and with Dowd’s vantage point behind the play, it was the right call.
So there you have it, the fifth round of the FA Cup has concluded. The sixth round draw took place before today’s game and the one matchup everyone is talking about is Manchester United vs. Arsenal. Either way, we are guaranteed that a top team is getting eliminated in the next round. Here are the four matchups with their league and position in parenthesis.
Liverpool (EPL-7) vs. Blackburn Rovers (Championship-9)
Bradford City (League One-9) vs. Reading (Championship-16)
Aston Villa (EPL-18) vs. West Brom (EPL-14)
Manchester United (EPL-3) vs. Arsenal (EPL-5)