The Biggest FA Cup Fourth Round Upsets

The FA Cup is renowned for it’s famous upsets. The historic competition is held in high regard throughout world football with it being the oldest national football competition in the world. 

Cambridge United’s fantastic win over Newcastle United at St. James Park in this year’s third round proved that the magic of the cup is still alive after 151 years.

A win in the fourth round of the FA Cup allows fans of lower ranked teams to dream of a trip Wembley.

The £90,000 prize money for advancing into the Fifth Round and the potential TV money offers lower league teams an extra incentive to win as this money is hugely valuable for these clubs.

Chelsea 2-4 Bradford City – 2015

Before the Fourth-Round tie, the Chelsea manager at the time, Jose Mourinho stated that it would be a disgrace if Chelsea lost to Bradford City.

49 places separated the two clubs as the Bantams travelled to Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho fielded a strong side in order to try and prevent any giant killing from taking place. 

The experienced Petr Cech, Gary Cahill, Didier Drogba, Ramires and John Obi Mikel all started.

Star players Eden Hazard, Fabregas and Willian were dropped to the bench.

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How the tie unfolded

Chelsea started the game strongly after Gary Cahill flicked in Oscar’s corner to put the Blues 1-0 up.

Ramires doubled Chelsea’s lead and looked to be in cruise control after a well-executed attacking move partnering with Mo Salah.

Just before half-time, Jon Stead pulled one back for the visitors with a superb strike on the edge of the 18-yard-box which travelled into the top left corner.

This goal allowed the Bantams to dream of salvaging at least a replay from the tie.

Would they dare to dream of a win?

Mourinho looked to the bench in hope to halt Bradford’s momentum as Cesc Fabregas and Willian entered the pitch.

This proved to be unsuccessful as ex-Chelsea player Filipe Morais struck the ball into an empty net for the equaliser.

Chelsea’s star player Eden Hazard came on in a late effort to turn the game around.

Bradford further embarrassed Chelsea as Andy Halliday blasted the Bantams ahead and the Scotsman raced over to the euphoric away fans in delight.

The League One side didn’t stop there. Stead’s backheel fell into the path of Yeates who finished calmly to complete one the greatest FA Cup upsets ever.

Bradford City went onto to beat Premier League side Sunderland in the fifth round to set up an FA Cup quarter final with Reading.

A nerve-wracking goalless draw at Valley Parade led to a replay in which Reading comfortably won 3-0.

Chelsea went onto win the Premier League that season adding to the magnitude of the cup upset.

Oldham 3-2 Liverpool – 2013

League One outfit Oldham Athletic welcomed Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool to Boundary Park in the FA Cup fourth round.

Most people would’ve banked on an easy Liverpool win after the Reds fielded a strong starting XI.

Liverpool started the brilliant Luis Suarez as well as Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge. 

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How the tie unfolded

Oldham reached the fourth round after a surprising 3-2 away win against Championship side Nottingham Forest.

This momentum proved to be vital as Matt Smith opened the scoring in the third minute after the striker headed in M’Changama’s cross.

Oldham then allowed the prolific Luis Suarez too much time on the ball as the Uruguayan squeezed in the equaliser for Liverpool.

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Liverpool brought on Steven Gerrard as they looked to avoid any embarrassment. 

Matt Smith capitalised on Brad Jones’ mistake for the strikers second of the game as the Latics restored their lead.

Oldham came out flying for the second half as Reece Wabara’s powerful header gave the hosts a two-goal advantage.

Joe Allen pulled a goal back with a superb volley on the edge of the 18-yard box for his first Liverpool goal.

The Latics held on to achieve one of the classic FA Cup upsets, a historic day for the football club.

Liverpool succumbed to a disappointing season after they finished seventh in the Premier League.

Oldham came up against the blue half of Merseyside in the fifth round. The Latics held Everton to a 2-2 draw at Boundary Park but were outclassed by the Premier League outfit in the replay. 

Manchester City 0-2 Middlesbrough – 2015

The 24th of January 2015 was a magical day for the FA Cup. Not only did Bradford City stun Premier League leaders Chelsea, but Middlesbrough pulled off a giant killing of their own against a strong City side.

Manchester City legends, Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Pablo Zabaleta all started against the Championship side.

The 2014 Premier League champions had just returned from a five-day training trip in Abu Dhabi the evening before their FA Cup fourth round clash.

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How the tie unfolded

At first, this appeared to have little effect on City after they were unlucky not to be rewarded for their constant pressure.

Ex-Real Madrid keeper Tomas Mejias ensured Boro went into the break with their clean sheet intact after a series of high-quality of saves in the final 20 minutes of the first half. 

The visitors rode their luck after a terrible back pass from Fernando allowed Adomah to put pressure on keeper Caballero.

Fernando followed this up with another blunder as his failed clearance fell to the path of Patrick Bamford allowing the striker to tap the ball into an empty net.

The opening goal changed the game as Middlesbrough exploited the gaps in City’s defence due to the hosts attempting to pull the game back level.

Frank Lampard, on as a substitute, nearly forced a replay after his deflected shot struck the inside of the post.

Eventually, in added time, Middlesbrough managed to double their lead and put the FA Cup fourth round tie to bed. 

Adomah broke away down the left-hand side and played the ball into Bamford. The first goal scorer produced an inventive pass to put Kike through on goal and the Spaniard fired past Caballero.

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This was one of the biggest FA Cup upsets in Middlesbrough folklore as they restored the magic of the cup.

Manuel Pellegrini stated that his side became nervous after Bamford opened the scoring.

Middlesbrough went onto lose to Arsenal in the next round as they failed to repeat the same heroics .

Norwich City 0-1 Luton Town – 2013

Conference side Luton Town travelled to Premier League outfit Norwich City.

A non-league club knocking out a top division side is relatively unheard of, but Luton made the impossible possible.

Luton Town became the first non-league side to beat a top division side in the Premier League era. 

The last team to beat a top division side from the Conference was when Sutton United knocked out Coventry City in 1989.

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How the tie unfolded

Against all odds, Luton Town started strongly. The Hatters pressed high up the pitch causing the Premier League side to sit back and soak up the pressure.  

After 30 minutes, Norwich City tweaked their game plan and started to cause the Conference side problems.

Simeon Jackson and a young Harry Kane had decent opportunities to put the Canaries ahead before Leon Barnett struck the post and his rebounded effort was cleared off the line.

The quality of the non-league side shocked Norwich boss Chris Hughton as he brought on Grant Holt at half time.

Luton Town coped with his presence during the second half. As Norwich piled forward to avoid a replay, Luton exposed the gaps.

With 10 minutes remaining, JJ 0’Donnell powered down the left and played the ball into, substitute, Rendell who placed the ball into the back of the net.

The Hatters were in dream land. 

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The goal appeared to have rattled the hosts who lacked composure as they searched for an equaliser.

The non-league side remained resilient as they caused one of the greatest FA Cup upsets of all time. 

It wasn’t a smash and grab win for Luton. The Hatters were always in the game and stuck to their game plan as they knocked out a side 85 league places above them.

Luton Town drew Millwall in the fifth round, but the Lions eased past the Hatters with a 3-0 victory.

Norwich went onto finish 11th in the Premier League. An excellent league campaign for the Canaries, adding to the magnitude of Luton Town’s achievement.

Sutton United 1-0 Leeds United – 2017

Sutton United have great history in the competition as they completed one of the greatest FA Cup upsets in history. In 1989, the non-league outfit knocked out Coventry City of Division One.

28 years later, Sutton United provided one of the great FA Cup upsets when the National League side welcomed Leeds United to Gander Green Lane.

The visitors were flying in the Championship as Garry Monks side sat in third, hoping to reach the promised land.

83 league places separated the two sides which led to Monk fielding a vastly inexperienced side.

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How the tie unfolded

Leeds made 10 changes from their previous game against Nottingham Forest. The disrespect came back to haunt the Whites.

The lowest ranked side left in the competition, Sutton, dominated from the off as Roarie Deacon controversially had a goal ruled out for offside.

Leeds goalkeeper, Silvestri produced a series of impressive stops to save Leeds any first half blushes.

The struggling Championship side will have been thankful to hear the half-time whistle as the artificial pitch became an extra obstacle for Leeds as they strived to adapt.

Early into the second half, Sutton United deservedly won a penalty after Lewis Coyle brought down the majestic Deacon.

Captain Jamie Collins converted the penalty, sending Silvestri the wrong way and ultimately dumping Leeds out of the FA Cup.

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Things went from bad to worse for Leeds due to captain Liam Cooper being sent off for a second bookable offence. 

Sutton United added to their collection of FA Cup upsets as they entered the fifth round for the first time in their history.

A non-league side getting into the last-16 of the FA Cup further proves the timeless magic of the cup.

Sutton United were drawn against a fellow club from London, Arsenal.

Arsenal undoubtedly got the better of Sutton United as the Gunners were the eventual winners of the competition. 

Some may say that this result derailed Leeds United’s season as they missed out on a Championship play-off spot after a dismal second half of the season.

Could there be any FA Cup upsets in this years fourth round?

Non-league Kidderminster Harriers miraculously knocked out Championship side Reading in the previous round to set up a mouth-watering home tie against Premier League outfit West Ham.

Championship high-flyers Bournemouth take on Boreham Wood.

Nottingham Forest host Leicester City as they hope to repeat their heroics from the third round after knocking out Arsenal.

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