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From the Halfway Line : FA Cup 3rd Round weekend - Giant killing fever

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

The English FA Cup is the World's oldest knock out football competition, and in January the big boys come to the table. We look back on famous third round shocks of the past and the potential upsets in the forthcoming weekend round

Third Round weekend has always held a special place in the hearts of English football fans. It marks the moment in the season when the smaller fish in the footballing pond have a chance to pit their wits against the multi-millionaire superstars of the world stage. The moment that Biblical imagery is rolled out every year when the question is asked; Can David beat Goliath? Is there a Giant Killing to be had?

The Cup used to be a significant competition but as money and TV have come to dominate the game, meaning more money is at stake for finishing anywhere in the top league than winning the cup, the larger teams have played weakened sides or seen the competition as an inconvenience. Many cite the year 2000 when Manchester United opted out of the FA Cup to participate in the World Club Championship as the turning point in the fortunes of the FA Cup. Sir Alex Ferguson would later express regret over the decision which he insisted was forced upon them to help England's bid to host the World Cup.

The cup still means a great deal to ordinary football fans and can even ensure the existence of those smaller clubs that live off the potential payday from playing one of the giants of the game, but it is the shot at glory, the chance for immortality, that can come from defeating a larger opponent that keeps the sparkle in the eyes. We take a look at some of the great cup third round shocks of the past and look at where such moments of madness could happen again this weekend:

Newport County 2-1 Leicester City, 2019

This was quite a shock as the League Two strugglers scalped the then champions of England. The Exiles took an early lead before they survived a barrage from Leicester. Day produced a string of saves and the Foxes also hit the crossbar before they eventually drew level in the closing stages. Almost immediately the lead was restored with a penalty to send the Welsh minnows through.

Sutton 2-1 Coventry, 1989

Sutton were not even in the football league, but a non-league side in what was then called "The Conference". Coventry had only lifted the cup a mere 18 months previously, having beaten Tottenham in a shock final themselves. But Sutton taking the lead through Tony Rains before a Matthew Hanlan volley cancelled out a David Phillips equalizer pulled off one of the greatest giant killing feats of all time!

Wrexham 2-1 Arsenal 1992

George Graham described this defeat as his lowest moment in football. Concerned about a banana skin of a tie he named a strong starting eleven and his side had looked comfortable, leading from just before the break, but a Mickey Thomas free-kick drew the Welsh side level in the 82nd minute and before anyone could comprehend what was happening, they scored a second and Arsenal tumbled out of the cup.

Stevenage 3-1 Newcastle Utd 2011

Newcastle Utd fans were in jubilant mood having seen the news from earlier that day that their bitter rivals Sunderland had been beaten by Notts County. Stevenage had met the North Eastern giants thirteen years previously in the cup, holding out for a replay before being beaten by a Shearer goal that did not cross the line. The drama all came in the second half and on the final whistle the minnows felt they had avenged the previous defeat. Boro had dominated the game with possession and shots on goal, it was a deserved victory

Shrewsbury 2-1 Everton 2003

The FA Cup threw together a clash of classic proportions. Kevin Radcliffe, had been Everton's most successful captain of all time, but on this cold January afternoon, he managed Shrewsbury to a defeat of his beloved Everton, a team that included a young Wayne Rooney. Nigel Jemson scored twice in the famous victory that saw Everton and not the Shrew tamed.

Hereford 2-1 Newcastle Utd 1972

This is often cited as the ultimate Giant Killing episode when Southern League Hereford scalped Newcastle Utd. Ronnie Radford scored an absolute belter of an equalizer which saw the fans invade the pitch in ecstatic celebrations. They then took the victory in extra time. Radford's strike is so pivotal to the romance of giant killing feats that his name is given to the Giant Killing Award which was inaugurated in 2010.

Manchester Utd 0-1 Leeds Utd 2010

This might not sound like a giant killer feat on the face of it but back in 2010 Leeds United were languishing in League One for a third consecutive season. A chance to rekindle one of footballs long standing rivalries was too good to miss and an 18th minute goal from Jermaine Beckford which dribbled slowly into the bottom corner set Yorkshire pulses racing. Despite two penalty shouts, Manchester United were unable to find their way back and were ignominiously dumped out of the cup at the third round for the first time under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Bournemouth 2 0 Manchester Utd 1984

Harry Redknapp masterminded this shock against FA Cup holders, Ron Atkinson's United. The south coast side matched the giants for over an hour before scoring twice in the second half to seal a monumental win. The goals can be viewed on the AFC Bournemouth website here.

An entire web page is dedicated to the Giant Killers of the FA Cup that records all giant-killing exploits in the history of the competition. Explore their amazing archive.

FA Cup Giant Killing Award

Originally named the Ronnie Radford Giant Killer Award after the goal scorer of the long range belter for Hereford against Newcastle, this award was was introduced in the 2010-11 season for fans to vote for the greatest giant killing success of the season. The winning club is presented the award by Radford himself at Wembley stadium at the final of the competition.

Third round triumphs have won this award on four occasions:


Crawley Town


Derby County


Swindon Town


Wigan Athletic


Aston Villa


Sheffield United




Oldham Athletic

January 2022 The ones to watch out for

The third round draw has provided some potential upsets to look out for this coming weekend, here is our round up, although it looks like slim pickings this year!

Kick-off times in Central European Time:

Fri, Jan 7 21.00

Swindon Town v Manchester City

League Two Swindon are emerging from a tempestuous summer of debt and crisis and the prospect of a tie against the reigning champions will help ease some of that difficulty. The side are pushing for promotion and have reached the third round of the FA Cup for the first time in a decade. It would have to be an astonishing performance to overcome Pep Guardiola's side, but, stranger things have happened.

Sat, Jan 8 16.00

Newcastle United v Cambridge United

This will be Newcastle United's 400th FA Cup tie but their first against Cambridge United. Newcastle have been making headlines recently as they have become the latest English Premier League billionaire plaything so the Goliath headline writers will be circling like vultures, but Newcastle should be able to make it through, especially at home.

Sat, Jan 8 18:30

Chelsea v Chesterfield

Another home draw for a football giant will probably see Chelsea progress with comfort, which would be fitting, as their is a iconic sofa available out there called the "Chelsea Chesterfield". The visitors will be taking 6,000 fans to London for the first clash between the two teams since 1950. The Derbyshire outfit are currently first in the National Conference and this clash against the European Champions League holders represents the most extreme match up in the round.

Sun, Jan 9 13:30

Luton Town v Harrogate Town

The Hatters are in the second half of the Championship table and will be facing Harrogate for the first time in their history. Harrogate only reached the football league in August 2020. They have already knocked out Portsmouth on their way to the 3rd Round and this game, which has been selected for international TV coverage, could be a a cracker. Both teams have nothing to lose and a bumper payday fourth round tie in the offing.

Sun, Jan 9 15:00

Tottenham Hotspur v Morecambe

Spurs have featured regularly in the third round giant killing stakes. In last year's draw they were away to the minnows of Marine FC and this year they are up against a team from the North West once again. The Shrimps have registered two one nil victories to reach the third round and will hope to have more luck in the capital than their 4-0 defeat to Chelsea last year. Spurs are often accused of having a soft underbelly but Conte has given them more grit. This would truly be a monumental upset if Morecambe can pull it off.

Sun, Jan 9 15:00

Liverpool v Shrewsbury Town

The Shrews are disappointed to hear that their trip to Anfield has been snubbed b the TV broadcasters. This is in fact a bit of history repeating itself as they were at Anfield for a replay in the fourth round in 2020, which was also ignored by TV bosses. After an entertaining 2-2 draw at New Meadow, Liverpool boss Klopp did not attend the match and decided to field a youth team. The decision has created one of the most unlikely rivalries in football. This could be a bit tasty as the team struggling in the second half of League One will be salivating at a chance to have a go at their nemesis. This has a potential for some drama.

Further potential fire crackers

Sat, Jan 8 13:45

Millwall v Crystal Palace

A full throated London derby that could easily see sparks fly. Definitely one for the cup romantics to enjoy!

Sun, Jan 9 15:00

West Ham United v Leeds United

A full Premier League affair between two teams that have been playing flowing entertaining football. This could be a quality affair if they both want cup progress

The full draw

Friday 7 Jan


Swindon Town

1 - 4

Manchester City

Saturday 8 Jan


Mansfield Town




Bristol City

0 -1



1 - 2

Huddersfield Town

Coventry City

1 - 0

Derby County

Hartlepool United

2 - 1




1 - 2

Crystal Palace



​5 - 4


Boreham Wood

2 - 0

AFC Wimbledon

Kidderminster Harriers

2 - 1


Leicester City

4 - 1


Newcastle United

0 - 1

Cambridge United

Peterborough United

2 - 1

Bristol Rovers

Port Vale

1 - 4


Queens Park Rangers

P 1 - 1

Rotherham United

West Bromwich Albion

1 - 2

Brighton & Hove Albion

Wigan Athletic

3 - 2

Blackburn Rovers


Birmingham City

0 - 1

Plymouth Argyle


5 - 1


Hull City

2- 3


Swansea City

2 - 3



Yeovil Town

1 - 3

AFC Bournemouth

Sunday 9 Jan


Luton Town

4 - 0

Harrogate Town


Cardiff City

Preston North End

Charlton Athletic

0 - 1

Norwich City


4 - 1

Shrewsbury Town

Stoke City

2 - 0

Leyton Orient

Tottenham Hotspur

3 - 1


Wolverhampton Wanderers

3 - 0

Sheffield United

West Ham United

2 - 0

Leeds United


Nottingham Forest

1 - 0


Monday 10 Jan


Manchester United

1 - 0

Aston Villa


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