FA Cup Replay: Cardiff City 0-2 Stoke City (AET)

One of the sure-fire signs of the arrival of the New Year, along with even guiltier than usual looking smokers, piles of reduced Thorntons chocolate reindeer and streets littered with sad looking, decaying Christmas Trees is that January is the season for the annual obituaries for the FA Cup. This annual debate is unlikely to ever be conclusively resolved (the likelihood of Premier League clubs, say, withdrawing from the competition seems remote and the FA deciding to end the competition remoter still) and it is worth remembering that this tournament remains, for many people that are turned off by the largesse of the Premier League and the Champions League, a shining light that continues to represent something almost indefinably magical about our game. On nights like tonight, however, it can be difficult for even the tournaments greatest zealots to muster much of a smile. On this particular Tuesday night, Cardiff City’s match against Stoke City is competing with the humming of transfer window rumours of varying credibility, what may or may not be the self-destruction of West Ham United and the nagging suspicion that, if you flick through the channels for long enough, you’ll find a match from a European league that is ten times as exotic as this. This is the sort of match that looks enticing on paper, providing you don’t look at said sheet of paper...

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