Wagner is mocked by fans as Bristol City inflict upset
This tie was beamed around the world to showcase the FA Cup to a global audience. It was not a good advertisement; not that Bristol City will care a jot after a narrow win.
Only 11 places separated these two teams in the league pyramid before the game and a predictably tight encounter was settled by Josh Brownhill’s secondhalf strike.
Home fans taunted Huddersfield manager David Wagner with chants of “You’re being sacked in the morning” – and the truth is Huddersfield were awful in the first half, little better after.
It gave Bristol – hit hard by a sickness bug before kick-off – the perfect opportunity to cause an upset and they had the better players on the pitch.
Niclas Eliasson, Callum O’Dowda and Brownhill all produced stand-out performances.
Wagner said: “We were better in the second half and we had opportunities to score, but we couldn’t hit the target. That has been a problem for us all season and it was not a good result.
“We have lost the last nine games in a row and seven of them have been by one goal. It’s tough to pick the players up and it’s the same for everyone at the football club. We are in a difficult period and I didn’t see it coming, but we have to get through it.”
There was little to separate the two sides in opening 20 minutes, Huddersfield goalkeeper Ben Hamer providing one moment of hilarity when he passed a goal kick straight out for a corner.
Wagner made eight changes and gave a debut to loan signing Jason Puncheon but while his team were neat and tidy enough they created next to nothing.
Huddersfield striker Laurent Depoitre laboured in attack and had little in support of him as his team – as they have done all season – struggled to even look like mounting a goal threat.
Bristol weren’t much better initially, with striker Famara Diedhiou isolated and Puncheon summed up the paucity of the encounter by dropping deep and then over-hitting a cross.
At the other end, Eliasson whipped in a dangerous free-kick but saw no one on the end of it, then Jack Hunt’s cross was headed on to the crossbar by Irish international O’Dowda. Diedhiou couldn’t convert the rebound.
Bristol’s Jamie Paterson fired over and Depoitre failed to reach an Erik Durm cross as both sides had further half-chances before the break.
Wagner had seen enough and introduced Steve Mounie and Alex Pritchard for the second half. They made an immediate difference with Huddersfield looking much more dangerous.
Chris Lowe and captain Jonathan Hogg had further efforts before Mounie lobbed the ball over Niki Maenpaa, but Bristol captain Bailey Wright got back to clear. It proved crucial.
Lee Johnson’s hosts took the lead soon after. Brownhill picked up a loose ball from a corner down the left, twisted the Huddersfield defence inside out, and fired past Hamer with his left foot.
An FA Cup exit will not define Huddersfield’s season with Premier League survival their priority, but they will struggle to do that based on the evidence here.
Wagner added: “The focus was always on Premier League survival, even before this game. We haven’t had a clean sheet in our nine defeats and it hurts. It’s not good enough. We have problems at both ends of the pitch.”
Bristol manager Johnson said: “The team changed about 15 times in the hours before the game because we had sickness in the camp. We had at least four or five players in bed ill and some of the substitutes were never going to come on as they were ill, too.
“There has been a horrible 24-hour bug going round and pretty much all the players have had it. Adam Webster has lost about half a stone, but he still played the full 90 minutes.
“We were excellent and, dare I say it, we were reasonably comfortable against a Premier League side.
“I’d like another home draw next and I’d like a top six Premier League side. There were great scenes here last year when we played Manchester United and City in the Carabao Cup. If I had a choice, I’d ask for Tottenham or Liverpool at home.”
Down Town: Josh Brownhill cracks in the winner to send Huddersfield out of the Cup