Top 10 FA Cup shocks

by Mystical Mike

Monday, February 16th, 2009

It’s up for debate whether of not the FA Cup has lost it’s magic.

Sky Sports’ Paul Merson said the FA Cup is like playing bingo, in that the top teams will pick their team out of a pot.

Forget what Merson says, he can hardly string a sentence together anyway.

To celebrate the greatest cup competition in world football we’d thought we’d give you our definitive top 10 FA cup shocks.


1) Wrexham 2 Arsenal 1

FA Cup third round, 1992

Arguably the greatest shock in FA Cup history. Reigning league champions Arsenal made the trip to lowly Wrexham who were bottom of the old third division. Alan Smith gave the Gunners a half time lead before Mickey Thomas equalized with a 25-yard thunderbolt with only ten minutes to go. Wrexham were in the ascendancy and two minutes later Steve Watkin struck home the winner. Cue mass celebrations for Wrexham with the ultimate embarrassment for Arsenal.


2) Sutton United 2 Coventry City 1

FA Cup third round, 1989

Non-league Sutton United caused one of the biggest upsets as they beat top flight Coventry 2-1 at Gander Green Lane, thanks to goals from Tony Rains and Matthew Hanlan. Coventry had won the Cup two seasons earlier. However, it was a case of what goes up must come down as Sutton were beaten 8-0 by Norwich City in the next round.


3) Hereford United 2 Newcastle 1

FA Cup third-round replay, 1972

Hereford produced an almighty display as they beat First Division Newcastle 2-1 in a third-round replay in 1972. Malcolm McDonald’s late goal looked to have secured the victory until Ronnie Radford then popped up to score the most famous 30-yard goal in cup history to take the game into extra time. Substitute Ricky George scored the winner, as Hereford became the first non-league club to beat a First Division side since 1949.


4) Wimbledon 1 Liverpool 0

FA Cup final 1988

Everyone loves an underdog, and none more so than the Crazy gang from Wimbledon. Liverpool dominated during the 80s and were expected to turn up, play in 2nd gear and walk away with the cup. After missing a first half penalty things didn’t quite follow the script. Lawrie Sanchez’s header proved to be the winner as the Crazy Gang caused one of the biggest shocks in FA Cup Final history.


5) Liverpool 1 Barnsley 2

FA Cup fifth round, 2008

Championship Barnsley sent Liverpool crashing out of the FA Cup thanks to Brian Howard’s dramatic injury-time winner at Anfield. Dirk Kuyt gave Liverpool the lead and only some superb goal keeping from hero Luke Steele kept Barnsley in the game. Stephen Foster equalized with a header, although Liverpool attacked, they could not beat Steele who was playing his first game for the club. Harry Kewell hit the bar in the final minutes before Howard’s low shot into the bottom corner won it for Barnsley.


6) West Ham 1 Arsenal 0

FA Cup final 1980

West Ham are the last club outside the top flight to win the cup. Cup holders Arsenal competing in their 3rd successive final were no match for the Hammers as Trevor Brooking scored a rare header at Wembley to give West Ham their finest hour.


7) Shrewsbury Town 2 Everton 1

FA Cup third round, 2003

Everton’s most successful captain Kevin Ratcliffe inspired his Shrewsbury side to a battling victory over Everton at Gay Meadow. Two goals from Nigel Jemson ensured humiliation as Third Division Shrewsbury sitting 80 places below Everton won the game with a header winner two minutes from time.


.8) Barnsley 1 Chelsea 0

FA Cup quarter-final, 2008

A memorable night in South Yorkshire as Barnsley followed up their superb victory over Liverpool by beating Avarm Grants Chelsea. Kayode Odejayi scored only his second goal of the season to ensure Chelsea went home with egg on their face.


9) Manchester United 0 Exeter City 0

FA Cup third round, 2005

Non-league Exeter produced a magnificent defensive display at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ to take the mighty Manchester United back to St James Park. United won the reply 1-0 but it all could have been so different if United fan Dean Moxeys shot went narrowly wide after a goal mouth scramble.


10) Liverpool 5 Havant & Waterlooville 2

FA Cup fourth round, 2008

After beating Swansea in the previous round Havant & Waterlooville from the Conference South went to Anfield looking to avoid a heavy defeat. What happened was fairy tale stuff, as they twice took the lead and were looking to cause the biggest upset in the history of football. They eventually lost the game 5-2 but not many will forget the way they gave Liverpool one almighty scare.



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  • Sam

    Who could forget Barnsley’s victory over Liverpool last season!? Think i was watching that in the Bishop’s Blaize – the Man United pub at the end of Sir Matt Busby Way – seeing our ex-keeper Steele frustrating Liverpool time and time again and when the final whistle went the place erupted like we were in their dressing room!! The game finished minutes before we all strolled down to OT to watch United put Arsenal out with a thumping 4-0 win (Flether got 2 and Nani was doin kick ups all along the touchline in front of Arsene!!!) – possibly the best day of my life!

    These FA cup shocks certainly take football back to its fundamental best.

  • Darren

    that was a total embarrassment, Wenger had no intention of winning that game.

    What a superb job David Moyes is doing, if you are talking about finances then he’s surely the best manager in the Premier League. They be good the ones to avoid.

  • Dexy Longshot

    The West Ham game in 1980 was my first ever cup final, I was 6, I remember it like it was yesterday, come on you Hammers!!!!

  • Mark Andrews

    How about non-league Wimbledon knocking First Division Burnley out of the FA Cup in the 70’s? Wimbledon then proceeded to hold Leeds United to a 0-0 at Elland Road with Dickie Guy saving a Peter Lorimer penalty before losing to an unluckily deflected own goal off Dave Bassett’s bum in the replay.

  • jackie

    no west brom 2 woking 4?

    big shock back in ’91 saw the end of brian talbot.

  • Steve

    And what about non league Altrincham holding the mighty Spurs side of the 70’s including Hoddle and Ardilles 1-1 at White Hart Lane and also beating then first division side Birmingham City 2-1 at St Andrews in the 80’s.

  • Jack Whitehead

    1973 – The newspapers had been hailing Leeds as the ‘best team in the world’ all season and Second Divison Sunderland do them in the final. It was magic! I’m a Liverpool fan and I’d put that shock as greater than any of those listed

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