The World’s Oldest Knockout Football Competition Produces Surprising Results.
The magic of the FA Cup was well in evidence in the fourth round played at the weekend.
The round started on Friday night with Championship side Millwall hosting Premier League strugglers Aston Villa. Millwall made Villa’s plight even dimmer, handing them a 2-1 defeat to knock them out of their second cup competition in a week. Villa were knocked out of the Capital One Cup (League Cup) during the week by League Two side Bradford. Aston Villa took the lead through Darren Bent on 22 minutes, but Millwall evened the score only 5 minutes later with a Danny Shittu header. John Marquis claimed the winning goal for the Lions in the final minute of regular time.
Fellow Premier League strugglers Queens Park Rangers fared even worse on Saturday, going down 4-2 to League One Milton Keynes Dons. QPR conceded an own goal inside four minutes and things got worse from there. The Dons were 4-0 up within the hour and two late goals for QPR proved no consolation.
Luton Town became the first non-league team to knock a top-flight side out of the FA Cup since 1989. A late strike from Scott Rendell saw Premier League Norwich City make an early exit from the competition.
Arsenal struggled against Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion. Despite taking the lead twice, with excellent goals from Olivier Giroud, Brighton were able to level the score after each of them. After Brighton equalised for the second time, Arsene Wenger sent on Jack Wilshire and Theo Walcott who had been rested on the bench. Keiran Gibbs was added 10 minutes later to aid the leaky defence. Those additions worked, with Walcott scoring in the 85th minute to see Arsenal through to the next round.
The upsets continued into Sunday, with European Champions Chelsea and their multi-million dollar squad narrowly avoiding defeat at League One Brentford. An 83rd minute Fernando Torres goal earned Chelsea a replay.
Next up Tottenham, currently sitting fourth in the Premier League were knocked out by Championship side Leeds United. Luke Varney and Ross McCormack scored for Leeds and Tottenham were unable to add to a 58th minute goal from Clint Dempsey.
The final match of the round provided just as much drama, with Liverpool going down to League One Oldham. Matt Smith scored after 3 minutes for Oldham, but Luis Suarez equalised 15 minutes later. Smith was on target again in the shadow of half time to give Oldham a 2-1 lead at the break. Reece Wabara scored a delightful back-post header 3 minutes into the second half to give Oldham a 2 goal cushion. Joe Allen‘s volley on 80 minutes ensured a tense finish, but Oldham were able to hold on to go through to the 5th Round.
The giant killers had mixed fortunes in the draw for the 5th round. Luton will host Millwall, Leeds are drawn away to Manchester City, Milton Keynes Dons are at home to Barnsley and Oldham will host Everton. All of those matches will be played on Saturday 6th February, which should prove some interesting viewing.
By Max Power