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Holden points to Mapps to show city the way

Dean Holden revealed how he used Adrian Mariappa as an example to inspire City to a 3-0 win over Millwall that put them into the last 16 of the Emirates FA Cup.

Goals from Famara Diédhiou, Nahki Wells and Antoine Semenyo finished off the Lions on a day of positives that included a clean sheet for goalkeeper Max O’Leary behind a solid defence and a Robins debut for Owura Edwards.

And, in the pre-match team talk, Head Coach Holden highlighted Mariappa (below), who reached the Emirates FA Cup final with Crystal Palace in 2016 and Watford in 2019, to galvanise City into booking a Fifth Round place against Sheffield United in the week beginning February 8th.

Mariappa example 

Holden told Robins TV: “I'm delighted to come here and score three goals and get through to the next round – there’s lots to work on but it was a really pleasing win.

“I used Mapps as an example in the team meeting in the morning. I'm not for a minute saying we can win the FA Cup, but you've got to give yourself the opportunity to go as far as you can. And he got there recently with Watford and it was just touching on that experience and how that can really impact, not just your career, but your life.

“We are not getting too far ahead of ourselves but certainly I thought that was something to tap into, particularly the younger players. We knew this was a tough afternoon and we were really professional in the way that we approached it.”

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Up for the fight

Having lost 2-0 at Ashton Gate to Millwall less than six weeks ago, Holden knew what to expect, explaining: “You’ve got to give credit to Millwall, it’s a tough nut to crack and we needed to make sure that we were up for the physical battle, we needed to make sure we were aggressive in the way that we played on those turnovers particularly. And once we regained possession I thought we played some really good stuff right throughout the game.

 

Taylor Moore and his City team-mates matched Millwall physically

Build-up to goals

“I think there were two passages of play particularly in the first off: one where Famara has got in and didn't quite get his shot off and then the second one leads to the penalty which is executed brilliantly. That gets you in the lead and gives you confidence and with Nahki’s goal – the deflected free kick – he’s hit one first off which I thought was going top corner so you've got to hit the target which he did. The third goal is as good a goal as you’ll see - Nahki’s vision first and then execution to find Antoine and for him to take the space like he did and drive past the defender and what a clinical finish it was.

Nahki Wells

"I think his all-round general play was good today. His link-up play was good, he was on the turn looking for opportunities to pass and follow and get in the box and he deserves his goal for his performance.”

Nahki Wells impressed Dean Holden with his all-round play

Semenyo thrills

Semenyo was a livewire throughout - celebrating his goal with a backflip – and Holden reflected: “There's nothing like learning in our matchday experience. Training is training, listening to coaches bores you to death sometimes! There’s nothing like going into an experience and feeling what it’s like and he should take so much confidence, not just from his performance, but from that finish on his left foot which was fantastic.”

Antoine Semenyo was lively throughout - including his backflip goal celebration

Owura debut

It was another day to remember for the Edwards family with Academy product Owura following brother Opi earlier this season in making his City debut. Holden added: “He’s a livewire, isn’t he? He’s been out on loan, he’s had some really good games for Grimsby and he's come back and it'll be a day I'll never forget, the same for Belly (Sam Bell) for his FA Cup debut as well. It’s great to get these lads involved. It’s disappointing that I couldn’t get Riley (Towler) and Sam Pearson on as well but they are learning every day and there’s opportunities for these young players at this club.”

Owura Edwards made his Bristol City debut

Max factor

Max O’Leary returned to the scene of City’s 2-1 triumph in April 2019, at the ground where he saved a penalty. This was another day to remember at the Den for O'Leary. and Holden enthused:He made some good saves right throughout the afternoon and at important times. He managed the game well, particularly in that second half, his options were good with his kicking at times. We know we can trust Max and when we need to bring him in, as we did today, he always does a job for us.”

Max O'Leary made several crucial saves

Huddersfield next challenge

“It’s an exciting challenge for us, a Premier League team in Sheffield United and a chance for us to go and pit our wits against them. Every opportunity you have to get through to the next round and see how far you can go, that’s the carrot for the players. But our first thought is Huddersfield and all our effort and all the recovery has to be get ourselves ready for a league game on Tuesday.”

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