So that was Christmas – you’ve had your fill of mince pies, recovered from the traditional NYE hangover and your tutors have thrust a fistful of collections in your direction.
But football fans still have a reason to be jolly – the 3rd round of the FA Cup is right around the corner – the annual contest pitting minnows against the nation’s mightiest.
This year lowly Hastings can cause one of the cup’s greatest ever upsets when they make the long trip north to Teeside to face Championship Middlesborough while tricky tests await both Merseyside clubs with Liverpool travelling to Mansfield and Cheltenham entertaining Everton.
So distract yourself from the monotony of past papers and indulge in handful of my favourite 3rd round shocks.
Havant & Waterlooville 4-2 Swansea, Wednesday 16 January 2008 (Replay)
Conference new-boys Havant & Waterlooville brought League 1 promotion chasers Swansea back to West Leigh Park thanks to a last gasp equaliser from Rocky Baptiste in Wales. A money-spinning tie against Liverpool and a trip to Anfield was on offer and the stage was set for a cup classic.
The Hawks, playing in their fifth FA Cup tie of the season after kicking off their campaign in the fourth qualifying round, raced into a 3-0 lead with an own goal from Swans’ skipper Garry Monk and strikes from Jamie Collins and Baptiste.
Guillem Bauza pulled one back before the interval before Jason Scotland set up a nervy second period, but Tom Jordan’s header sealed a famous victory in front of almost 4,500 fans.
Although the Swans would take the League 1 title in May, it is the Hawks who wrote their name into football folklore. In the fourth round they gave Liverpool a scare after taking a 1-0 and 2-1 lead and going in at half time with the scores level. But goals from Yossi Benayoun and Peter Crouch were too much for the non-league side whose cup dream eventually ended in a credible 5-2 defeat.
Cardiff 2-1 Leeds, Sunday 7 January 2002
Going into the game Leeds were leading the Premiership title race while Cardiff sat two points outside the play-offs in Division 2. David Moyes’s high-fliers included Robbie Fowler, Alan Smith and Mark Viduka and had reached the Champions League semi-final the previous season. On paper this tie was a foregone conclusion before a ball had even been kicked.
An early Viduka strike looked to have put paid to any slim suggestions of a shock but Graham Kavanagh hit back quickly with a stunning free-kick. Leeds had already lost Rio Ferdinand to injury and Smith was given his marching orders before half time for a dubious elbow.
Cardiff took the game to their multi-million pound opponents and Chairman Sam Hammam, whose “Crazy Gang” at Wimbledon won the cup in 1988, left his seat in the director’s box to watch the remaining minutes standing behind the goal.
The owner was perfectly placed to witness FA Cup history as his side pulled off the giantkilling of the round when defender Scott Young stabbed home from a Kavanagh corner.
Cardiff went on to finish fourth in Division 2 but were unable to reach the play-off final at the nearby Millennium Stadium, falling to Stoke in the semis – Leeds’ early title hopes were dashed by eventual FA Cup winners’ Arsenal and also had to settle for a disappointing fourth placed finish.
Shrewsbury 2-1 Everton, Saturday 4 January 2003
Division 3 strugglers Shrewsbury pulled off perhaps the most bittersweet of cup shocks when they knocked out David Moyes’s Everton.
The Shrews frustrated Wayne Rooney all afternoon and took the lead just before half time with a goal from veteran striker Nigel Jemson to the delight of a packed Gay Meadow. Niclas Alexandersson’s strik
e on the hour mark looked to have earned Everton a replay but Jemson had the last laugh with a late winner.
The journeyman’s goal set up another home tie for the Shrews
– this time against Claudio Ranieri’s Chelsea – but a brace from Gianfranco Zola and goals from Carlton Cole
and Jody Morris ended the Shrews’ slim hopes of reaching the 5thround.Things only got worse for the Shrews who could only muster three more wins before finishing rock bottom of the Football League.