The Emirates FA Cup is officially in full swing after this past weekend. With Premier League and Championship outfits permitted to join the underdogs in the third round proper, there were plenty of great matches and dull ones alikea��as well as some upsets.
Let’s cut to the chase; get your feet wet in the lower pools of English football and see how long the FA Cup magic will last.
Friday’s lone FA Cup match was between League Two’s Exeter City and the mighty Liverpool. It was Exeter that struck first, although the Merseysiders hit back almost instantly. However, Exeter scored the most unlikely of goalsa��an Olimpico, no lessa��on the stroke of halftime to give themselves the advantage. Liverpool clawed back once more midway through the second half to secure a 2-2 draw.
The tournament truly kicked off on Saturday to the tune of 26 matches. A short review of each is to follow:
Newport County 0-0 Blackburn Rovers: Postponed. The match will be played on January 19.
Manchester United 1-0 Sheffield United: The Red Devils escaped to the fourth round following a Wayne Rooney penalty in the 90’+3. That’s a bit of a shame for Sheffield United, though by all accounts the penalty was deservedly given.
Bury 0-0 Bradford City: The Bantams traveled to face their League One counterparts who happen to sit right below them in the table. There was nothing doing here and these sides will head to a replay.
Southampton 1-2 Crystal Palace: The high-flying Eagles traveled to the South Coast and overpowered their Premier League opponents. Joel Ward and Wilfried Zaha netted for Crystal Palace while Oriol Romeu scored for the Saints. The lack of consistency from Ronald Koeman’s men continues to show.
Eastleigh 1-1 Bolton Wanderers: It was Eastleigh, who currently sit fifth in the Conference Premier, who scored first courtesy of a Dorian Dervite own goal. However, Bolton turned things around and equalized through Darren Pratley to send this tie to a replay. Almost one for the little guys.
Brentford 0-1 Walsall: League One’s Walsall, currently in the promotion playoff spots, scored first through Sam Mantom and didn’t look back, knocking off the Championship side.
Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Fulham: Fulham traveled to Hillsborough to take on their Championship counterparts and came away empty-handed. The two sides traded goals in the minutes leading up to halftime, with Barry Bannan scoring for the Owls and Moussa DembA�lA� equalizing for the Cottagers. Atdhe Nuhiu settled the tie in the 73′.
Ipswich Town 2-2 Portsmouth: Tommy Oar put Ipswich ahead in the 53′ only for Portsmouth to equalize two minutes later through Kyle Bennett. The League Two side then took the lead thanks to an 86′ goal from Conor Chaplin, but they were pegged back by Ryan Fraser in the 88′. This one will head to a replay.
Birmingham City 1-2 Bournemouth: City scored first through Michael Morrison but Lee Tomlin swiftly equalized for the Premier League newcomers before Glenn Murray scored the winner for the Cherries in the 85th. Teetering on the fringes of relegation, perhaps they can make a cup run.
Northampton Town 2-2 MK Dons: The Championship side hit first courtesy of a Ryan Cresswell own goal, but Northampton fired into the lead following two second-half goals from Ricky Holmes, only to be pegged back by Nick Maynard in the 82′. This goes to a replay, and like many, featured late drama.
Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland: The current league leaders fell behind due to an early goal from Jermaine Lens, but that’s all Sam Allardyce’s squad had to smile about on the day. Arsenal found their footing and equalized through Joel Campbell to leave it tied at halftime before Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud scored in quick succession midway through the second interval to give the Gunners the win.
Colchester United 2-1 Charlton Athletic: The struggling League One side scored twice in the first half and never looked back. Reza Ghoochannejhad managed nothing more than a consolation goal in the 90′.
West Ham 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers: This one nearly went the distance without a goal, but Nikica JelaviA� broke the deadlock in the 84′ and sent the Hammers to the fourth round. Again, West Ham hasn’t had the easiest of times with smaller sides.
Hartlepool United 1-2 Derby County: Derby County took to the road to battle the struggling League Two side and fell behind in the 60′ thanks to Jake Gray, only to equalize seven minutes after. Darren Bent added the eventual winner four minutes from time to send them through.
Watford 1-0 Newcastle United: Troy Deeney scored on the stroke of halftime for the home team, and his goal was all that was needed to counteract a dismal Newcastle side. Watford will not go quietly.
West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Bristol City: These types of battles are what cup ties are all about. The hosts scored first through Saido Berahinoa��no, reallya��in the 67′ but fell behind when Jonathan Kodjia and Kieran Agard scored ten minutes apart from one another. In a cruel twist of fate to the visitors, James Morrison scored in the fifth minute of extra time to send this tie to a replay. Still, Tony Pulis will not like the lapse in defending from his West Brom side.
Nottingham Forest 1-0 Queens Park Rangers: The hosts scored early through Jamie Ward and that was it. Meanwhile, QPR currently find themselves in the bottom half of the Championship table. Talk about a fall from grace. Again.
Middlesbrough 1-2 Burnley: The Championship leaders hosted the side who sits fifth in the table. It was the leaders that scored first through Diego Fabbrini, but Burnley equalized in first half stoppage time. Midway through the second, Stephen Ward struck for the visitors to hand them the win. Might this propel them to surge back to England’s top flight?
Everton 2-0 Dagenham & Redbridge: Everton calmly defeated the League Two outfit through goals from Arouna KonA� and Kevin Mirallas. That makes it consecutive cup wins for the Toffees following their first leg victory over Manchester City in the Capital One Cup semi-final.
Peterborough United 2-0 Preston North End: Peterborough scored early through Martin Samuelsen and didn’t look back. They added a second early in the second half to cement the victory.
Huddersfield Town 2-2 Reading: This was all-out action in the second half. Huddersfield scored first in the 57′ but couldn’t hold onto the lead as Reading equalized in the 71′ through MatA�j Vydra and seemingly scored the winner three minutes from time. However, a late penalty saw Huddersfield send this tie to a replay.
Norwich City 0-3 Manchester City: Ah, another comprehensive Premier League battle. This tie was put to rest early on when Sergio AgA?ero and Kelechi Iheanacho put the Citizens up two by halftime. A third goal from Kevin de Bruyne iced the match and sent Manchester City to the next round. Positive spin: focus on the league and avoid relegation, Norwich.
Hull City 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion: A Robert Snodgrass penalty in the 42′ was all that was required for Hull City to hand Brighton their fourth loss in five matches. Meanwhile, Hull are right in the thick of the Championship race.
Leeds United 2-0 Rotherham United: The hosts scored at the end of the first half through Mustapha Carayol and again at the end of the match through Souleymane Doukara to move on to the next round. That said, they continue to muddle in irrelevancy down in the Championship.
Doncaster Rovers 1-2 Stoke City: So close. Stoke hit first with a goal from Peter Crouch but were quickly pegged back with a goal from Nathan Tyson. Jonathan Walters scored 12 minutes into the second half and Stoke held on to advance to the fourth round of the competition.
Wycombe Wanderers 1-1 Aston Villa: How bad is Aston Villa? Micah Richards scored in the first half to send Aston Villa into half with a lead. However, the League Two side equalized five minutes after the break through a Joe Jacobson penalty. This match will go to a replay.
The last five matches of the third round were played Sunday:
Oxford United 3-2 Swansea City: The struggling Premier League outfita��Garry Monk was obviously the problema��was subject to the biggest upset of the third round as they fell to Oxford United of League Two. Jefferson Montero opened the scoring, but the hosts scored three unanswered before BafA�timbi Gomis got one back in the 66′. The Welsh side was ultimately unable to secure the equalizer.
Chelsea 2-0 Scunthorpe United: The Blues took the lead through Diego Costa and furthered it with a goal from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his first senior goal for the club. A late push from the League One side amounted to nothing in the end, but it was a battle well fought.
Carlisle United 2-2 Yeovil Town: Hosts Carlisle United scored first and traded goals with their League Two opponents before an equalizer at the death in the 90’+3 to send this match to a replay. I Imagine these sides will be tired of each other by the end of this campaign.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Leicester City: Resting players earned each side an extra matcha��something I imagine each wanted to avoid. Tottenham broke first after fine buildup saw Christian Eriksen slot one home. Marcin Wasilewski equalized ten minutes on and Shinji Okazaki scored two minutes after the half. Leicester was sure to advance, but a late penalty converted by Harry Kanea��his 50th Tottenham goala��will see this tie move to a replay.
Cardiff City 0-1 Shrewsbury Town: Remember when Cardiff was a huge deal? A 62′ goal scored by Andrew Mangan was enough to see the League One side sink the hosts.
Replays: In the FA Cup, any match that ends in a draw is subject to a replay at a later date. If the replay ends is level after 90 minutes, it goes to extra time. If the match isn’t settled after 120 minutes, then we get penalties. There will be nine replay matches on Tuesday, January 19 (subject to change):
Leicester City vs Tottenham Hotspur
Bradford City vs Bury
Bristol City vs West Bromwich Albion
Milton Keynes Dons vs Northampton Town
Portsmouth vs Ipswich Town
Aston Villa vs Wycombe Wanderers
Yeovil Town vs Carlisle United
Reading vs Huddersfield Town
Bolton Wanderers vs Eastleigh
One match will be played on Wednesday, January 20.
Liverpool vs Exeter City
The Third Round was interesting and invigorating, and the draw for the Fourth Round was completed on Monday. The results:
West Bromwich Albion/Bristol City vs Peterborough United
Eastleigh/Bolton Wanderers vs Leeds United
Arsenal vs Burnley
Derby County vs Manchester United
Huddersfield Town/Reading vs Walsall
Exeter City/Liverpool vs West Ham United
Wycombe Wanderers/Aston Villa vs Manchester City
Shrewsbury Town vs Sheffield Wednesday
Nottingham Forest vs Watford
Carlisle United/Yeovil Town vs Everton
Crystal Palace vs Stoke City
Oxford United vs Newport County/Blackburn Rovers
Ipswich Town/Portsmouth vs Bournemouth
Colchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur/Leicester City
Bury/Bradford City vs Hull City
Northampton Town/MK Dons vs Chelsea
In recent years, this competitiona��as well as the aforementioned Capital One Cupa��has taken a lot of flak, but it’s typically fun to take a look at some of the smaller sides football has to offer.