Date: 16th January 2017 at 2:36pm
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An FA Cup replay isn’t ideal, especially at the first hurdle. But as Birmingham City travel 200 miles to Tyneside to take on Newcastle United tonight, the fixture offers yet another chance to claim that all elusive first victory of Gianfranco Zola’s reign at the seventh attempt.

After three draws and three defeats, a win would do much for the morale of Blues’ players. The evolution of Blues’ style of play is in motion but progress can only be measured by way of results. And Zola desperately needs a result.

Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle, who sit at the summit of the Championship, will be a tough nut to crack. In front of their own supporters, knowing that League One outfit Oxford United await in round four, the potential of a cup run also lies ahead.

Bentiez will field a second string team, but a capable one all the same. The depth of the Geordies’ squad isn’t comparable to that of Blues’, such is the millions of pounds they have invested. However, as Zola’s men exhibited in the original tie, they are capable of holding their own. In fact, Blues should have put the tie to bed without a replay but their edginess in the final third got the better of them once more.

Traditionally, the FA Cup is the pinnacle of English football. But as the years have flown by and a garguntian amount of money injected into the game, other priorities worm their way to the surface. That aside, the FA Cup is a trophy that no Birmingham City captain has ever held aloft. One day, dreams may be realised. Maybe not this year, perhaps not even this century – but one day… you just never know.

As usual, Keep Right On!

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