On an occasion where optimistic fans usually travel in their numbers to a destination they rarely get the chance to visit, the FA Cup third round this year has been a completely different experience. Even if fans of Chorley, Blackpool and Doncaster Rovers were unable to attend and were confined to watching their respective games at home, the magic of the FA Cup lived on.
Chorley, Blackpool and Doncaster Rovers Cause Upsets in Saturday’s FA Cup Third Round Ties
Chorley Progress to the FA Cup Fourth Round Against a Young Derby County Side
When news emerged that there was a COVID-19 outbreak amongst the entire Derby County squad, the dreams of seeing Wayne Rooney in action were ended abruptly. But, with The Rams needing to field a squad that was entirely made up of youth team players, the belief grew amongst the Chorley faithful and there almost became an expectation for The Magpies to progress to the fourth round.
Connor Hall opened the scoring for National League North side after just ten minutes, nodding home after the youthful Derby side were unable to clear from a corner. From then on, it was one-way traffic with the hosts imposing themselves on the game, but were unable to double their advantage. Chorley eventually sealed a 2-0 victory in the 84th minute when Mike Calveley tapped home Elliot Newby‘s inch-perfect cross.
The Magpies have now booked their place in to the fourth round and will be eagerly hoping for a mouth-watering tie against one of England’s elite. Their success on the field will certainly benefit the club in a financial sense and with the on-going uncertainty about whether the National League will be able to continue, the £82,000 the club have pocketed from reaching the fourth round will most definitely help in a time of need.
Seasiders Edge Premier League Opposition in Penalty Shoot-Out
Sam Allardyce named a strong side for West Bromwich Albion’s visit to the north-west coast and there was clear intent that The Baggies were hopeful of a cup run this year. Blackpool, who have turned Bloomfield Road into somewhat of a fortress of late, knew that the onus was on the struggling Baggies to perform and took great confidence from a sloppy start from their Premier League opposition.
Blackpool took the lead five minutes before half-time when Jerry Yates turned in Bez Lubala’s low cross. But, the visitors were level in the 52nd minute with Semi Ajayi nodding in a well-worked corner-kick routine. Gary Madine restored The Seasiders’ advantage when he confidently slotted home after anticipating Yates’ flick through expertly. However, the lead was once again short-lived with Matheus Pereira equalising from the penalty spot in the 80th minute.
Neither side were able to create anything of note in extra time which meant penalties were in order. And after a long gruelling 120 minutes of football, it was the hosts who progressed through with a 3-2 win on penalties. Seasiders goalkeeper Chris Maxwell was the hero as he saved three penalties on his return to the squad after contracting COVID-19 over the Christmas period.
Doncaster Deny Free-Scoring Blackburn a Place in the Fourth Round
High-flying Doncaster Rovers proved themselves against Championship opposition as they defeated Blackburn Rovers to progress. The Yorkshire club sit fourth in League One and were brimming with confidence coming into the game, but the challenge of a Blackburn Rovers side who are the Championship’s top goal-scorers seemed one step too far – especially with their second-tier opposition naming such a strong team.
The game started in an even manner with both sides going close in the early exchanges with Doncaster matching their higher tiered opposition. The visitors looked to break with pace when they were afforded possession and created several opportunities in the first half doing just that.
Taylor Richards opened the scoring for Doncaster in the 42nd minute, when he was given too much space just outside the box. The on-loan Brighton & Hove Albion forward still had a lot of work to do, but his low driven effort proved to be too strong for Aynsley Pears in the Blackburn goal.
The League One side had to endure waves of Blackburn possession in the second half but defended resolutely to ensure a 1-0 win and ultimately, a place in the fourth round.