Famous Five: Biggest FA Cup Third Round shocks ever

With non-league Boreham Wood, Chesterfield and Wrexham all aiming for FA Cup scalps, what better reason to look back at those occasions where David has managed to topple Goliath?

Matthew Crist

The FA Cup Third-Round weekend is like no other and will once again pit teams from the lower leagues against the high-flyers of English football.

It’s an opportunity for David to be pitted against Goliath; a team of window cleaners, brick-layers and plumbers to maybe, just maybe, upset the odds and cause a shock that will be talked about for years to come.

Of course, we all know such freak results are rare, that’s the beauty of it, but as long as there is a possibility we’ll all be fascinated by this most intriguing and entertaining few days of football that comes around but once a year.

Here’s a look at some of the most surprising and shocking results from the very early stages of the world’s oldest domestic knockout cup competition.

Hereford United 2-1 Newcastle United, 1972

Hereford v Newcastle

Actually, a Third Round replay after Hereford had earned a remarkable 2-2 draw at St James’ Park, this clash between lowly Hereford United and Newcastle United at Edgar Street on the 5th February 1972 epitomized everything the FA Cup is about.

The Magpies took the lead thanks to a Malcolm McDonald header, the very man who had claimed he would “score ten” in the replay, but Colin Addison and his team responded in the best way possible.

Just moments later Ronnie Radford played a one-two with Brian Owen, which almost got stuck in the mud, but he still managed to fire an incredible drive to score probably the most famous goal in the history of the tournament.

Then, in extra-time substitute, Ricky George managed to wriggle free of his marker and fire a shot beyond Willie McFaul to spark a huge pitch invasion which might even be more famous than the goal itself.

Bournemouth 2-0 Manchester United, 1984

Manchester United had won the famous old trophy the previous May against Brighton but they crashed out at the first hurdle the following season when they were beaten by Third Division Bournemouth under the guidance of a certain Harry Redknapp.

The first half was played out with little to write home about, but in the second 45 the hosts began to take the game to their more famous opponents when, on 65 minutes, Milton Graham scored after Gary Bailey made a mess of a corner.

The Dean Court crowd went mad, though few believed they would actually go on to win the tie, but just moments later Thompson grabbed a second and the Cherries had the most memorable victory in the club’s history.

Wrexham 2-1 Arsenal, 1992

Wrexham v Arsenal 1992

On January 4, 1992, Wrexham were officially the worst team in the land and sat at the bottom of the Fourth Division, so few fancied their chances when they were drawn against First Division champions Arsenal at the Racecourse Ground.

Arsenal took control early in the game and could have been two or three up before Alan Smith tapped in on the 43rd minute after some fine trickery from wingman Paul Merson.

But if there was ever a game of two halves this was it, as the home side made a real fist of it after the break and embarked on one of the most dramatic turnarounds ever as Mickey Thomas, rifled home a thunderous free-kick before Steve Watkin grabbed the winner in the dying moments.

Sutton United 2-1 Coventry City, 1989

Sutton United v Coventry City

In 1987 Coventry had stunned Spurs to win the final at Wembley and going into this game were in a comfortable position in the top half of First Division while Sutton United were playing in the General Motors Vauxhall Conference under manager, Barrie Williams, was a former history teacher who liked to smoke a pipe and quote Shakespeare.

Incredibly, Sutton took the lead through their captain Tony Rains after a well-worked near post corner with any thoughts of a massive upset seemingly snuffed out when Coventry’s David Phillips equalized early in the second half and normal service was resumed.

But with Coventry going for the jugular Matthew Hanlon stormed into the box and fired home a sensational goal as the home crowd went nuts and despite Coventry threw everything at their opponents, Sutton held on to record one of the greatest upsets in FA Cup history.

Stevenage 3-1 Newcastle, 2011

Stevenage FA Cup 2011

Fourth-tier side Stevenage were enjoying their first season of league football when they were drawn against Alan Pardew’s Magpies in the Third Round back in January of 2011.

But despite the huge gulf in class, Boro dominated possession and had more shots then the Premier League giants as goals from Stacey Long, Michael Bostwick and Peter Winn sealed a famous win for the Broadhall Way side.

The famous defeat meant that Newcastle, who haven’t won this trophy since 1955 became only the fourth top-flight team to lose to fourth division opposition.

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