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FA Cup third-round upsets: 8 famous shocks

| 05.01.2022

Eight of the most memorable FA Cup third-round upsets

One of the best weekends on the English football calendar is coming up and there will almost certainly be some FA Cup third-round upsets across the 32 ties.

This is the stage when the big guns enter the competition and the minnows get their chance to test themselves against the Premier League elite.

Time and time again the lower-league teams have defied the FA Cup odds to cause an upset and here we look back at some of the most memorable in the history of the competition.

Hereford 2 Newcastle 1 (1972)

Southern League side Hereford had earned a 2-2 draw at St James’ Park in February 1972 and were given little chance of emulating that feat in the replay.

It was all going as expected when Newcastle took the lead in a game which had been postponed three times by bad weather.

Hereford grew stronger as the match went on, though, and Ronnie Radford equalised with a long-range thunderbolt to take the game into extra time, where Ricky George hit the winner.

Sutton 2 Coventry 1 (1989)

Coventry arrived in Surrey just 18 months after winning the 1987 FA Cup and were riding high in the top flight. It appeared to be a case of ‘no contest’ against the non-leaguers at Gander Green Lane.

They were left stunned, though, as Tony Rains and Matthew Hanlan became the goalscoring heroes for a team fashioned by English teacher Barrie Williams.

Both scorers became instant celebrities, appearing on Terry Wogan’s chat show the following Monday.

West Brom 2 Woking 4 (1991)

The FA Cup offers the chance for relatively unknown players to be a hero and Tim Buzaglo seized that opportunity when Woking, then of the Isthmian League, went to The Hawthorns.

There was no sign of the drama to come when West Brom, then in the second tier, went in 1-0 up at half-time.

But Woking were inspired after the break, especially former Gibraltar cricketer Buzaglo who scored a hat-trick as the Cards completed a stunning victory.

Wrexham 2 Arsenal 1 (1992)

The Gunners were the reigning league champions, Wrexham were bottom of the old fourth division, and there was only going to be one result at the Racecourse Ground according to the FA Cup odds.

Arsenal had taken the lead through Alan Smith but, with 10 minutes to go, 37-year-old Mickey Thomas unleashed a 25-yard free-kick past David Seaman for the equaliser.

The Welsh side could sense an upset and Steve Watkin popped up late on to score the winner and secure one of the greatest FA Cup third-round upsets.

Shrewsbury 2 Everton 1 (2003)

Shrewsbury are one of the teams hoping to be involved in FA Cup third-round upsets this weekend when they are 20/1 to beat Liverpool and already have a Merseyside scalp to their name, having beaten Everton 19 years ago.

The Shrews, managed by former Everton captain Kevin Ratcliffe, were in the fourth tier at the time as they hosted an Everton team featuring a young Wayne Rooney.

Veteran forward Nigel Jemson was the hero, scoring two goals to earn a fourth-round tie against Chelsea in a season which ended with Shrewsbury being relegated from the Football League.

Manchester United 0 Leeds 1 (2010)

Leeds may be back in the Premier League but in 2010 they were languishing in League One when they were given the chance to go to Old Trafford to face their bitter rivals.

No other fixture prompts as much excitement amongst Leeds fans and 9,000 of them were in attendance to see Simon Grayson’s team rise to the occasion, with Jermaine Beckford scoring the only goal in the 19th minute.

It was the first time Alex Ferguson had suffered a third-round defeat in the FA Cup during his reign as Manchester United manager.

Newport 2 Leicester 1 (2019)

League Two side Newport shocked Leicester, the Premier League champions just three years earlier.

Padraig Amond’s 85th-minute penalty fired the Welsh side into the fourth round as 2-1 winners after Marc Albrighton was guilty of a needless handball in the area.

The penalty came just three minutes after Rachid Ghezzal had levelled for Leicester, who had trailed since Newport’s well-worked opener from Jamille Matt from Robbie Willmott’s cross.

Crawley 3 Leeds 0 (2021)

Marcelo Bielsa’s side were reeling from two goals inside three second-half minutes from Nick Tsaroulla and Ashley Nadesan before Jordan Tunnicliffe finished them off with 20 minutes remaining.

To rub salt in the wounds, Crawley even handed a debut to former reality star Mark Wright as a late substitute but the only way was out of the cup for Leeds.

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All odds and markets correct as of date of publication



Andrew McDermott