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FA Cup Shocks – The Biggest Giant Killings

With the FA Cup 4th round rapidly approaching, everyone hopes the minnows left in the competition can provide an upset, with Crawley Town away at Hull City offering a neutral the most hope for lower league representation in the 5th round. It is part of the magic of the FA Cup and why everybody loves the tournament so much, but here is a list of the Top 10 FA Cup shocks:



  • Colchester 3-2 Leeds United, 1971, 5th Round – Think back to the 70’s when Leeds had the best team in the land under the great Don Revie. The side reached the final the year before and fancied a return trip to Wembley, the chances of which were boosted when unfancied Colchester of the 4th Division came out of the hat. However, the Layer Road faithful saw their side race into a dream 3-0 lead with two goals from Ray Crawford. Stunned, Leeds did manage a mini revival, scoring twice to leave the game in the balance but Colchester hung on for one of the greatest Cup shocks of all time.
  • Wrexham 2-1 Arsenal, 1992, 3rd Round – Arsenal, the Champions, went to the Racecourse Ground for a seemingly easy fixture against the side who were bottom of the Football League at the time, occupying 24th position in the 4th Division. When Alan Smith gave the Gunners the lead, there didn’t appear to be much hope for the Welsh team, but former Manchester United trainee Micky Thomas rifled home an equalising free-kick before Steve Watkin’s late winner gaveWrexham the greatest result in their club’s history.
  • Hereford United 2-1 Newcastle United, 1972, 3rd Round – Having already held the Toon Army to a draw, nobody fancied non-league Hereford to repeat their heroics again in the replay. The game went according to plan as Malcolm McDonald snatched a late goal for the visitors after a hard fought game, but Ronnie Radford scored one of the more famous goals in this grand old competition, finding the net from 30 yards to take the game into extra-time. Ricky George’s winner thenensured Hereford became the first non-league side to defeat a first division club since 1949.
  • Sutton United 2-1 Coventry City, 3rd Round, 1989 – Top flight Coventry expected an easy ride when they drew non-league Sutton out of the hat in the 3rd round. Things didn’t go according to plan for the 1987 winners, after goals from Tony Rains and Matthew Hanlan fired Sutton into the next round. Where they promptly lost 8-0 to Norwich. Still, they had their moment in the sun.
  • Liverpool 1-2 Barnsley, Barnsley 1-0 Chelsea, 5th Round, Quarter-Final, 2008 – In the era of global football and cash-rich big clubs, FA Cup shocks get harder to find by the year, especially against the Premier League big boys. So for lowly Championship outfit Barnsley, beating not one, but TWO of the Top 4, represented a remarkable run. Manager Simon Davey first masterminded a win at Anfield, where Bryan Howard scored a late winner, before seeing off Chelsea at Oakwell thanks to striker Kayode Odejayi, who grabbed just his second goal of the season. It sent the Tykes to Wembley for the semi-final, but they couldn’t repeat the performances against fellow Championship side Cardiff.
  • Sunderland 1-0 Leeds, FA Cup Final, 1973 – There has been greater shocks in the history of the FA Cup, but not in terms of the context of the match. 2nd Division Sunderland were given no hope in the final against the mighty Leeds (anyone see a pattern developing here?), especially as the Whites already held the trophy. Ian Porterfield gave the Mackems an early lead though and they somehow hung on thanks to Jim Montgomery’s heroics in goal, including that infamous save from PeterLorimer. Sunderland became the first 2nd Division side to win the trophy in 40 years.
  • Shrewsbury Town 2-1 Everton, 3rd Round, 2003 – With the Shrews positioned 80 places below Everton in the Football League, no-one expected anything less than a routine victory for the Toffees. However, former Everton legend and skipper Kevin Ratcliffe, now Shrewsbury manager, had other ideas. Nigel Jemson’s double, including a winner two minutes from time, gave his side a famous win and left new Everton boss David Moyes fuming.
  • Bournemouth 2-0 Manchester United, 3rd Round, 1984 – Ron Atkinson’s side were not the all-conquering version thatFergie created a few years later, but no-one expected them to lose to lowly Bournemouth. However the home side set DeanCourt alight, winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Milton Graham and Ian Thompson. The winning manager that day? A certain Mr H. Redknapp.
  • Chasetown 1-0 Port Vale, 2nd Round, 2007 – The first and second rounds often see non-league outfits pick up wins over bigger clubs, but Chasetown competed in the British Gas Business Southern League Midland Division side, in the fourth tier of non-league football. They duly became the lowest ranked side ever to reach the FA Cup third round, as Danny Smith scored a late winner to set up a clash with Cardiff City. The non-league outfit battled through 7 rounds to get to the third round, but their dream was unfortunately ended by the Bluebirds.
  • Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United, 3rd Round, 2010 – The Premier League champions don’t usually fall at the first hurdle under Sir Alex Ferguson, especially not to lower league opposition. But bitter rivals Leeds turned up at Old Trafford on the back of good form under Simon Grayson in League One. To the delight of the travelling masses of Leeds fans, Jermaine Beckford rolled in a Jonny Howson through ball to give their side the lead. The Whites hung on as well, giving them a famous win over the Red Devils and handing Fergie his first 3rd round defeat in his entire time in charge.

Tom Mordey

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