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Sunday, 27 January 2013

Arsenal, Norwich, Liverpool, Newcastle: The top 10 FA Cup giant killings of all-time

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Luton Town became the first non-league club in 24 years to beat a top flight side on Saturday as the Hatters beat Premier League Norwich City 1-0 at Carrow Road.

Paul Buckle's men rode their luck against the Canaries, but super sub Scott Rendell wrote his name in FA Cup folklore with a winner 10 minutes from time to become the first non-league side to beat a Premier League club since its creation in 1992.

 But it wasn't the only giant killing in the fourth round. Premier League strugglers QPR were humiliated at home 4-2 by League One MK Dons, at one point losing 4-0!

They were huge results and show that the magic of the FA Cup is still alive and well, but where do these results rank in the grand scheme of FA Cup upsets?

Here is Squarefootball's Top 10 FA Cup giant killings.

 10. Colchester 3 Leeds United 2 - 1971

Almost 40 years ago now, Leeds United were one of the biggest clubs in Europe. Under Don Revie they played to win, and win at any costs. They may not have won any admirers from the neutrals for their aggressive brand of football, but it was effective and brought the Elland Road side a lot of success. However, they came unstuck at Layer Road in this FA Cup tie. Colchester, who were playing in the fourth division at the time, raced into a three-goal lead against the previous season's cup finalists, thanks to a brace from Ray Crawford. Revie's men fought back with goals from Norman Hunter and Johnny Giles, but it was too little too late. Leeds were out!


9. QPR 2 MK Dons 4 - 2013

Harry Redknapp's men were humiliated at home by Karl Robinson's League One MK Dons. The home side made a number of changes to the starting XI but the R's still had a number of internationals on hand. They were given the chance by Redknapp to show that they were good enough for the first team in their Premier League fight. The only thing they did was convince Redknapp and Tony Fernandes to get the chequebook out! The visitors raced into a 4-0 lead thanks to an own goal from Armand Traore before Ryan Lowe doubled the lead then set up Ryan Hartley for the third. Darren Potter put the icing on the cake before QPR grabbed consolations from Jay Bothroyd and Fabio. QPR have endured some embarrassing results this season, but this was arguably their worst.


8. Shrewsbury 2 Everton 1 2003

Shrewsbury were some 80 places behind Champions League chasing Everton going into this clash but they produced one of the biggest shocks of recent times. Former Everton captain Kevin Radcliffe was the manager of Shrewsbury Town and brought the Toffees down to earth with a thud at Gay Meadow. Ex-Nottingham Forest start Nigel Jemson wrote his name in FA Cup history with a deadly double that left the Toffees with their tails between their legs.


7. Tranmere Rovers 4 Southampton 3 2001

Premier League Southampton were in easy street at Prenton Park. They were 3-0 up at half-time and their thoughts had obviously turned to the next round. Unfortunately John Aldridge's men had other ideas. The game had almost reached the hour mark when Paul Rideout gave the home side hope, getting a foot on a 25-yard strike by Andy Parkinson. Rideout, who was a cup hero for Everton in the 1995 final, headed home a second before completing his hat-trick with 10 minutes to go. The away fans were stunned into silence as the rest of the ground was bouncing. And it was another former Everton player Stuart Barlow who capped a memorable night for the Rovers.

That win set up a match with Liverpool in the next round.


6. Liverpool 1 Barnsley 2 2008

Barnsley were the FA Cup giant killers in 2008. The Tykes went to Anfield, the home of seven-time FA Cup winners, but Simon Davey's men were undaunted. Even when Liverpool took the lead through Dirk Kuyt the visitors still threatened an upset. Stephen Foster equalised for the Tykes before Brian Howard scored the biggest goal of his career in injury time to stun the Kop.

Their reward for beating Liverpool was a home tie against the millionaires of Chelsea. But even the Blues couldn't get the better of the Tykes with Kayade Odejayi scoring the only goal of the game to book their place in the semi-final. 


5. Liverpool 0 Wimbledon 1 1988

It was billed as David vs Goliath as the all-conquering Liverpool took on the Crazy Gang of Wimbledon who had climbed up the Football League to reach the top flight. Bobby Gould's men were given no hope. They were told to enjoy their big day out at Wembley, but Dennis Wise, Vinnie Jones, Dave Beasent and John Fashanu had other ideas. They wanted to be legends. Wimbledon coped with everything Kenny Dalglish's men threw at them and took a sensational lead through a Laurie Sanchez header. But the kings of England, at the time, looked to have got themselves back on level terms when they were awarded a penalty. John Alrdridge stepped up, but Dave Beasent guessed correctly and became the first keeper to save a penalty in an FA Cup final.

Wimbledon held on to shock the football world.


4. Hereford 2 Newcastle United 1 1972

Newcastle United visited Edgar Street for a replay after Hereford had drawn 2-2 at St James' Park, but if anyone thought that was an amazing result they hadn't seen anything yet. In a game that brought BBC commentator John Motson to the nation's attention, Newcastle took the lead through Malcolm Macdonald. Hereford equalised courtesy of one of the greatest FA Cup goals ever scored. Ronnie Radford lashed the ball home from 40 yards out to level proceedings. Ricky George bagged the winner though to seal a memorable win.


3. Wrexham 2 Arsenal 1 - 1992

For 80 minutes Arsenal controlled this game. Striker Alan Smith had put the visitors 1-0 up, but with 10 minutes to go former Manchester United star Micky Thomas levelled with a cracking 25-yard free-kick that sailed past David Seaman in the Arsenal goal. With a replay looking on the cards Wrexham, who were in the fourth tier of English football, sealed an historic win through Steve Watkin.


2. Sutton United 2 Coventry City 1 - 1989

Two years before this clash Coventry City won the FA Cup by beating Spurs in one of the greatest finals ever. But on this day the Sky Blues became victims of one of the competitions biggest giant killings. Coventry City, managed by the legendary John Sillett, were sixth in the league but were left red-faced when non-league Sutton took the lead through captain Tony Rains. Coventry left-back David Phillips got the visitors back on level terms and the Sky Blues were expected to make their experience count. Unfortunately Matt Hanlon didn't read the script and couldn't miss when the ball was swung into the box right on to his head.


1. Norwich City 0 Luton Town 1 - 2013

In our minds this is the greatest cup upset of all time. Norwich City are a Premier League outfit, they were at home and their players have a wealth of experience to call on, but they still couldn't beat a team 85 places below them in the football pyramid. Luton Town had a game plan and it worked like a dream. Norwich will argue that they should have been awarded a goal when the ball appeared to have crossed the line and been awarded a late penalty for handball in the dying minutes, but let's not take anything away from the Hatters. They were magnificent and proved that the magic of the cup is alive and kicking.


Calling all football fans: Do you agree with our top 10? Have we made any glaring obmissions? Whatever your view, we'd love to hear from you.


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Colin Illingworth



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