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FA Cup Preview: Suwon Bluewings vs Gwangju FC

The Suwon Bluewings welcome an unbeaten Gwangju FC to Big Bird on Wednesday night in the latest round of the 2019 Korean FA Cup. After overcoming Pohang Steelers and Andong Science University respectively, in the last round, both teams will be going all out knowing that they are guaranteed non-league opponents in the quarter finals. Can the Bluewings string together back-to-back victories for the first time this year or will Gwangju continue their unbeaten start to the season? 

Last Time Out

Jeju United 1-3 Suwon Bluewings
A clinical Suwon side ran out winners against Jeju United last weekend. They didn't have it all their own way though and after some early pressure Jeju took a deserved lead in the 23rd minute. A swift counter attack, from a Suwon corner, found Suwon's backline at sixes and sevens, and after a fine long pass from Yun Il-lok, Magno Cruz found himself with the freedom of the pitch. His cut back to the edge of the area was slammed home by Kwon Soon-hyung to put the home side in front.

But it didn't take Suwon long to get back level with Dejan Damjanović netting the equaliser shortly before half time. A Shin Se-gye cross, from the right hand side, was poorly cleared by Aleks Jovanović and the Montenegrin was on hand to fire home from the edge of the penalty area.

Suwon took the lead just after the restart after a foul on Goo Dae-young provided Yeom Ki-hun with the perfect crossing opportunity from the left wing. The Suwon captain's out swinging delivery was met by the head of Koo Ja-ryoung and the centre back's header whistled past the goalkeeper into the back of the net.

Only four minutes later the Bluewings scored the goal that would seal the match for them with Adam Taggart netting his 5th goal of the campaign. A great pass with the outside of his boot from Man of the Match Dejan found Elvis Sarić in space down the left-hand side, and his powerful run and perfect cross was converted by the Australian at the back post.

Full match highlights can be found here. 

Busan IPark 1-1 Gwangju FC
Gwangju picked up a valuable point away against their promotion rivals Busan last weekend but they needed a late stoppage time equaliser to do so. After a slow first half, Busan took the lead in the 69th minute through a fantastic Lee Dong-jun strike. A loose ball fell to the forward on the right hand side of the penalty area but he somehow found the top corner with a powerful strike from an acute angle.

Busan pushed for a second goal to kill the game off but it was to be Gwangju who had the last laugh when Brazilian Felipe scored his 10th goal of an outstanding campaign, from the penalty spot. And it was the big man himself who won the spot kick after collecting a cross on his chest only to be brought down from behind by Busan's Park Jong-woo. A lengthy VAR check confirmed the award of the penalty and the Brazilian sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to give Gwangju the point.

Full match replay can be found here. 

Previous Meetings

There haven't been too many previous matches between these two and of those 16 games played between these pair Gwangju have had a miserable time, only ever winning two games against the Bluewings. Both of those victories came on the road though, and with both those victories coming in the 2016 and 2015 seasons they have some recent history of turning over Suwon on their own park.

However, since 2015 Suwon have won five games to Gwangju's two and have outscored the Honam team by 15 goals to 9, making this a pretty unhappy fixture for Gwangju fans.

Team News

Lee Lim-saeng made some strange selections for their trip to Jeju as he looked to give some rest to some key players, and his gambled paid off with his team picking up the win. Star of the season so far, No Dong-geun, was benched for that game but he will almost certainly return to the starting line-up in midweek. As too should Hong Chul, who was replaced by Goo Dae-young. Waguininho didn't make the trip to Jeju but could be in line for at least a place on the bench on Wednesday night as the front three of Dejan, Taggart and Yeom Ki-hun will retain their places.

Youngster Jeon Se-jin has officially met up with the U-20 squad as he prepares for the U-20 World Cup and he won't be available for much of May. However, with no need to field an U-22 player in the FA Cup, Lee Lim-saeng will likely continue with much of the team that impressed against Jeju.

The Adversary

Off the back of a morale-boosting stoppage time equaliser against promotion rivals Busan IPark, Gwangju remarkably kept their unbeaten start to the season in tact with a big helping of lady luck. With frustration evidently growing at the Gudeok after hitting the post and seeing substitute Willyan Barbosa sky one over the bar from close range, Felipe took his chance from the spot. For possibly the first time this season Gwangju had to rely upon grit and determination to grind out a positive result rather than showing superior quality. Feisty from the off, they may travel north to Suwon a little battle weary after 90 minutes of high intensity action from two well-matched teams.

Looking to get beyond the round of 16 for the first time since 2017, where a comfortable victory over Asan Mugunghwa eventually saw them lose out to the Bluewings in the quarters, the Yellows have rode their luck slightly in this year's competition. Manager Park Jin-seop's approach to the game will be most interesting. Having elected to field his second string for both victories so far against Jeonnam Dragons and Andong Science University, you would expect the 42-year-old boss to draft in more of the personnel that see the team flying at the top of the K League 2 table. Lee Han-do is temporarily back from his league suspension to potentially slot back into central defence, while winger Willyan will hope that he showed enough game-changing attributes on Sunday to warrant a start despite his glaring miss.

Goalkeeper Kim Tae-gon may be hoping for a rare start having seen current number one Yoon Pyeong-gook and Lee Jin-hyung share the responsibilities this term. Coming through a big scare at home to Andong in the last round, there should be a more settled and more experienced line-up for Gwangju's toughest test of the season.

- Peter Hampshire

Who To Watch

The Bluewings are clearly targeting the FA Cup as their chance to get back into the ACL and with Lee Lim-saeng expected to name his first choice starting 11 Dejan Damjanović should get the nod to lead the attack once more. The striker is in red hot form scoring in his last two games and became only the 13th Suwon player to score 30 goals or more despite only being with the club for a little over a year.
The striker has three goals and one assist for the season and appears to be hitting his stride as we enter the summer months. His performance against Jeju was instrumental in helping Suwon win their first league game in five matches and his partnership with Adam Taggart appears to be growing with every game they play together. The K League legend dropped into spaces between the defence and midfield with ease against Jeju, not only affecting the game with his goal but also with his intelligence and distribution, and Dejan will look to do the same against Gwangju.

Prediction

This is sure to be a tight game. Suwon only have two wins from six home games this term and Gwangju currently remain the only unbeaten team in the K League. Until that game against Jeju at the weekend Suwon had made a habit of drawing or winning by the odd goal, so this game is also expected to be a close one. It might not be a war of attrition but expect both teams to keep things tight on the night, with extra time and penalties being a distinct possibility.

Suwon Bluewings 1-1 Gwangju FC (Suwon Bluewings win in a penalty shootout)

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