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Giant killings and classic ‘cupsets’: who said the magic of the FA Cup was dead?

National League side Boreham Wood are through to the fifth round after a stunning win at Bournemouth 

As the oldest and arguably the most famous club competition in world football, there’s always been a “mystique” around the FA Cup since its inception in 1871. With clubs entering from the top ten tiers of the English football pyramid, the knockout format and luck of the draw can often set up David vs. Goliath showdowns.

Occasionally, non-league “minnows” get reasonably far in the cup and “everyone loses their head”, said football-stadiums.co.uk. If they knock out a big team, or enjoy a “giant killing”, things can “really go to pot”. 

In recent seasons, some fans and pundits have declared that the “magic” of the FA Cup is dead, The Sun reported. But “try telling that” to clubs outside the Premier League’s “Big Six” and those from the lower levels. 

‘Upsets, drama and chaos’

Over the years there have been some “classic cupsets” – especially in the third round proper, traditionally “one of the biggest weekends in the English football calendar”, said TheFA.com website. 

In 1972 the “original” FA Cup giant killing saw Hereford beat Newcastle 2-1 thanks to Ronnie Radford’s legendary long-range strike and Ricky George’s winner. Sutton United beating holders Coventry City 2-1 in 1989 and Woking’s “16 million to one” victory over West Brom in 1991 will also be remembered as some of the “greatest” FA Cup shocks, FourFourTwo said. 

With “upsets, drama and chaos”, this year’s third round was a “classic”, the BBC reported. Cambridge United “grabbed the headlines” with a “fairytale” win at St James’ Park against Newcastle. There were also notable victories for Kidderminster Harriers, against Reading, and fellow non-league side Boreham Wood, who beat League One AFC Wimbledon. 

For Boreham Wood their FA Cup adventure would next take them to Championship outfit Bournemouth for the fourth round – and their fairytale run would continue… 

‘On top of the world’

Playing an opponent 74 places higher in the pyramid, National League side Boreham Wood recorded a “famous giant killing” as the fifth-tier team beat Bournemouth 1-0 on Sunday, the Daily Mail reported. 

The first-half winning goal from 37-year-old captain Mark Ricketts sent the Hertfordshire club into the fifth round for the first time in their history – where they will now play a money-spinning tie against Premier League side Everton at Goodison Park. 

Boreham Wood boss Luke Garrard was “in tatters” after the victory at the Vitality Stadium. Admitting that he thought Bournemouth would “hit us for eight”, he hailed his “unbelievable” players. “I am on top of the world,” he said. “We are such a dysfunctional family, but that is what is helping get us our results. To a man, staff, people in the boardroom, this is for them.”

Boreham Wood were not the only ones celebrating a cupset. It was a good weekend for Championship clubs facing Premier League opponents. Middlesbrough defeated Manchester United 8-7 on penalties at Old Trafford and Nottingham Forest thrashed holders Leicester City 4-1. 

‘Intriguing ties’ up next

The magic of the FA Cup is “alive and kicking this season”, the Daily Mirror said. And fans across the land will hope to see more shocks in the fifth round, which takes place in the week commencing Monday 28 February. 

Everton vs. Boreham Wood is the obvious highlight of the draw, but Luton Town vs. Chelsea and Peterborough United vs. Manchester City also provide some “intriguing ties”, talkSPORT said. 

FA Cup fifth-round draw 

  • Luton Town vs. Chelsea 
  • Crystal Palace vs. Stoke City 
  • Peterborough United vs. Manchester City 
  • Liverpool vs. Norwich City 
  • Southampton vs. West Ham United 
  • Middlesbrough vs. Tottenham Hotspur 
  • Nottingham Forest vs. Huddersfield Town 
  • Everton vs. Boreham Wood

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