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UncategorizedThe magic of the cup - FA Cup third round shocks

The magic of the cup – FA Cup third round shocks

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It’s fair to say, the beauty of the FA Cup is alive and well, as we roll into the fourth round proper.

This season, we’ve witnessed League Two’s Crawley Town humble Premier League new-boys, Leeds United – and Chorley of the National League North, beat Derby County, who are four divisions above them.

The third round is when you get those David vs Goliath clashes – with teams further down the pyramid looking for a payday, as well as the chance to prove their mettle against the big boys.

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(Photo by Emilio Garcia on Unsplash)

Despite plenty of shocks this campaign, there’s no surprise when it comes to the sports betting odds, with Manchester City the firm favourites to lift the cup this season.

But we’ve taken a look over the last few years to round-up some of our favourite cupset shocks.

2019-20

This season, there were two clubs from the fifth tier involved in the third round of the FA Cup. Unfortunately for AFC Fylde and Hartlepool United, their cup dreams were over for another year, as they lost out to Sheffield United and Oxford United, respectively.

But League One’s Tranmere Rovers masterminded a giant-killing. Although it took a replay and extra time to overcome Watford, then of the Premier League, it put the Merseyside club in the hat for the fourth round. Despite making nine changes to the squad, Nigel Pearson’s side were three goals up within 35 minutes. But Tranmere hit back in the second half, levelling the scores with a late penalty, taking the tie to a replay.

A packed Prenton Park watched on as Rovers took the lead through Emmanuel Monthé. There’s no denying that the Hornets were vastly under-strength and had to deal with poor playing conditions, but they levelled the scores in the second half, taking the match to extra time. Paul Mullin, the hero of the first leg with that late penalty, came off the bench once more to land another vital goal – his header in the 104th minute sending Rovers into the draw.

Sadly, their cup run was over in the fourth round, as Tranmere lost to Manchester United, 6-0.

2018-19

Woking were the lowest-ranked side in the draw ahead of the third-round matches. The National League South outfit hosted Watford, but lost 2-0. But there was also one other non-league side that fancied their chances – and that was Barnet of the National League.

The Bees, who were 84 places below the Blades in the English football pyramid, travelled to Bramall Lane. A single goal decided it – and after Richard Stearman brought down Ephron Mason-Clark, midway through the first half, Shaquile Coulthirst stepped up to convert the awarded penalty. As boos rang around the Sheffield ground at full-time, Barnet were the only non-league side in the draw for the fourth round.

And it was a battle of the Bees, as they took on Brentford. After holding their Championship opponents to a 3-3 draw at The Hive, Barnet were dumped out of the cup in the replay – losing 3-1.

2017-18

For the first time in 67 years, no team from the fifth tier or lower made it into the third round of the FA Cup. Instead, there were 10 teams from the football League’s basement division vying for a place in the fourth round. Of those, there were four cupsets – with League Two’s Coventry City, Yeovil Town, Notts County and Newport County all recording victories over higher-ranked opposition.

And it’s the Sky Blues that we focus on in our round-up. They hosted Premier League side, Stoke City, and not only claimed a shock victory, but defeat for the Potters also saw manager Mark Hughes sacked, following a run of six defeats in eight matches.

Jordan Willis was hero-turned-villain – his towering header putting the hosts in front, in the first half, before he felled Ramadan Sobhi after the break, and Charlie Adam equalised from the resulting penalty. But fellow defender, Jack Grimmer was on hand to fire the Sky Blues back in front with 20 minutes remaining, and the Midlands club held on to a historic win.

After beating League One’s MK Dons in the fourth round, Coventry’s cup dream was over for another year, following a heavy defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion.

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