With teams just one good result away from a Wembley semi-final and two away from the final itself, players, staff and fans alike can be forgiven for dreaming of what could be. But first they must negotiate their way past the quarter-final stage and as history has proved, even at this stage and beyond shocks do occur.
For famous shocks of the FA Cup rounds three to five please click on the following links.
Famous Shocks Of The FA Cup Quarter-Finals
Barnsley 1-0 Chelsea, 2008
Barnsley knocked out Liverpool at Anfield just three weeks prior to this tie, however just three points had been picked up in the league since then and few outside Barnsley gave them much hope. Chelsea went to Yorkshire on the back of progressing in the Champions League and fielded the likes of John Terry, Michael Essien, Michael Ballack and Nicolas Anelka to make sure a cup upset would not be happening on this day. It didn’t work out as planned.
The Tykes out played their more illustrious opponents for much of the game, limiting them to half chances and on 66 minutes they got their reward. Striker Kayode Odejayi, who had not scored for several months but had performed well all afternoon headed in at the far post under an attempted challenge from keeper Carlo Cudicini after a brilliant cross from Martin Devaney gave the Chelsea defence little hope.
Chelsea battled back, hoping not to get the draw but the win seeing as they were still fighting in two other competitions. The Blues penned their hosts back in their own box but could not find a way through. The result sent Barnsley into their first semi-final since 1912 and ensured that the FA Cup would stay in the minds of supporters for many years come.
Leicester City 1-2 Wycombe Wanderers, 2001
The build up to this game was something many would fail to make up if writing a piece of football fiction. Wycombe, who had only been a league side for eight years, came up against Premier League outfit Leicester City at Filbert Street in what would become a game that will still be talked about for many years to come.
The Chairboys had beaten the likes of Wolves and Wimbledon to get to this stage but the League Two side were given little chance against The Foxes of the Premier League. Leading up to the game things were going from bad to worse for Wycombe. Ten of their 26 players were declared injured and more worryingly all six of their strikers were on that injury list. Desperate times brings desperate measures and Wycombe boss Lawrie Sanchez advertised for a striker who wasn’t cup tied to have a trial with the club. It worked. The agent of Roy Essandoh, a journeyman striker who had previously played in the likes of Finland, Austria and Scotland saw the advert and soon after the striker signed a two week contract. With a striker now in the squad, Sanchez could properly prepare for the quarter-final.
Wanderers got to half time with the score at 0-0 and a famous if unlikely dream was still alive. When Paul McCarthy gave them the lead early in the second half a famous shock was most definitely on. Leicester, though, were not beaten yet and Muzzy Izzet eased the nerves inside Filbert Street with an equaliser just after the hour. The Foxes, however, failed to build on this and with 10 minutes left Wycombe were denied a penalty. The resulting disagreement between the referee and Lawrie Sanchez saw the Wycombe boss sent off.
With the game looking like it was heading for a replay, Wycombe had one last chance. A ball into the box gave Leicester all kinds of problems and Roy Essandoh, who quite easily could have been playing elsewhere on the day, headed the ball into the net to create historic scenes, not just on the pitch and amongst the fans but in the stand where manager Sanchez had been watching the game on TV. Wycombe had an FA Cup story that would be told for many years and for Essandoh, he wrote a new chapter in the section of the FA Cup entitled “Romance”.
Sunderland 2-1 Chelsea, 1992
Having secured a deserved draw at Stamford Bridge thanks to a John Byrne equaliser, who scored in every round except the final itself, Sunderland took Chelsea back to Roker Park for a replay under the lights that will never be forgotten on Wearside. The Black Cats were struggling in the second tier at the time but were playing above expectations in the cup and having already knocked out West Ham United in the previous round, Sunderland knew they could produce an upset and progress to the semi-finals. Backed by a packed and noisy crowd, Sunderland took the game to their top flight opponents who were managed by Sunderland hero Ian Porterfield, and deservedly took the lead through Peter Davenport when he followed up Dave Beasant’s save from a Byrne shot.
Chelsea responded in the second half and went close several times, but the heroics of Tony Norman in the Sunderland goal and of the crossbar kept the Black Cats lead intact. Five minutes from time though Chelsea did make the breakthrough. Dennis Wise latched onto a Vinnie Jones long ball and beat Norman in goal. The equaliser gave Chelsea the edge and they seemed the likely winners, however Sunderland were far from done. A late corner was won and was swung into the edge of the penalty area where it was met by Gordon Armstrong who thundered a header into the corner of the net to send his team into the semi-finals and the fans wild. It was nights like this that made the old stadiums, especially Roker Park, great places to be and on Wearside this is a game that will be talked about for generations.
Manchester United 0-1 Portsmouth, 2008
Even though both teams were Premier League sides, United were favourites to progress to the semi-finals. The shock here was not that a lower division team beat one of the big boys it was more that United dominated the game, created chance after chance but failed to score and beat a team that had not won at Old Trafford in over half a century. Portsmouth defended for their lives, could have gone behind on countless occasions but when their chance came in the second half they took it with both hands. United were camped in the Pompey half but a counter attack presented itself. Portsmouth went on the attack and with the United defence AWOL, the away side took advantage. Milan Baros was put through on goal, but keeper Tomasz Kuszczak upended the forward, was sent off and the resulting penalty was dispatched by Sulley Muntari.
This was not necessarily a smash and grab win but it comes very close. At full time, Alex Ferguson, Carlos Queiroz and Cristiano Ronaldo all had their say in why the defeat was unfair on their team. Maybe they had a point, they were denied a penalty, the sending off was deemed harsh due to the keeper not being the last man and they claimed that some of Portsmouth’s tackles were over the top. However the main reason they were defeated was due to their inability on the day to take their chances and they faced a stubborn opposition who took their chance when it presented itself.