Five of the FA Cup's greatest ever upsets
Copy icon

Matthew Hill
LiveScore
Wrexham goalscorer Steve Watkin is carried off the pitch by jubilant fans after the minnows stunned English champions Arsenal
Wrexham goalscorer Steve Watkin is carried off the pitch by jubilant fans after the minnows stunned English champions Arsenal

Football fans around the world will watch the FA Cup fifth-round action in hope of seeing a famous upset — and they may just get their wish.

Davids have been toppling Goliaths since the dawn of time and, despite the ever-changing nature of the game, the famous competition never fails to deliver.

Ahead of the fifth-round ties, we take a look at five of the FA Cup’s most famous shocks. 

Wrexham 2-1 Arsenal, January 1992

If you were to pick one tie that ticked all the stereotypical boxes of an FA Cup classic, Wrexham’s unlikely 2-1 triumph over reigning English champions Arsenal is probably the winner.

The Welsh outfit had finished bottom of the fourth tier in the 1990-91 campaign and were only spared relegation to non-league by virtue of the Football League opting to expand.

On the other hand, George Graham’s Gunners were widely considered the finest team in the land and, with the visiting boss having selected a near full-strength side for the clash, were expected to make light work of their hosts.

Sure enough, Arsenal went ahead through Alan Smith in the first half and seemed well in control of affairs until the dying stages, when the youthful Wrexham started to rally.

Skipper Mickey Thomas’ free-kick brought about a sensational equaliser before forward Steve Watkin tapped Wrexham ahead less than two minutes later.

In one of the all-time great shocks, the Welsh minnows held on for a victory which Arsenal boss Graham called his "worst moment in football" and sparked a pitch invasion from jubilant home fans.

Shrewsbury 2-1 Everton, January 2003

Nigel Jemson's brace helped fourth-tier Shrewsbury stun Premier League Everton in 2003
Nigel Jemson's brace helped fourth-tier Shrewsbury stun Premier League Everton in 2003

On few occasions has a former player haunted an old club quite as much as Kevin Ratcliffe, who managed fourth-tier Shrewsbury Town to a stunning victory over his beloved Everton.

Ratcliffe, a no-nonsense defender who had captained the Toffees to two First Division titles and an FA Cup across a playing stint of over 350 appearances, was not exactly pulling up trees as a boss.

Languishing towards the bottom of what is now regarded as League Two, expectations were low when David Moyes’ high-flying side came to town but, sure enough, a dusting of FA Cup magic was to be on show at Gay Meadow.

Salop’s veteran skipper Nigel Jemson was the star of the show, putting his side ahead early before Everton’s blushes appeared to have been spared by substitute Niclas Alexandersson’s equaliser.

But experienced forward Jemson popped up again, nodding a free-kick past Richard Wright to humiliate the Merseysiders — not that former hero Ratcliffe seemed to care one bit.

Norwich 0-1 Luton, January 2013

Luton Town fans celebrate after their non-league heroes downed Premier League Norwich
Luton Town fans celebrate after their non-league heroes downed Premier League Norwich

A glance at today’s league tables may not make this upset seem so improbable — yet back in 2013, non-league Luton were not given a prayer of knocking out the top-flight Canaries.

The plucky Hatters had not read the script however, more than matching their prestigious opponents for the bulk of the contest before substitute Scott Rendell slid home a late winning goal.

Norwich boss Chris Hughton had a fresh-faced Harry Kane leading his forward line but opted to replace the future England skipper with bruising forward Grant Holt at half-time, albeit to no avail.

Paul Buckle’s visitors had their keeper Mark Tyler to thank on a couple of occasions and survived a few other hairy moments but were ultimately good value for their famous triumph.

The result was the first time a top-flight side had been eliminated by non-league opposition in the Premier League era and is ensured a permanent place in FA Cup folklore.

Chelsea 2-4 Bradford, January 2015

Bradford City's players and staff celebrate after causing one of the all-time great upsets against Chelsea in 2015
Bradford City's players and staff celebrate after causing one of the all-time great upsets against Chelsea in 2015

No Bradford fan will ever forget that fateful Saturday in January 2015 when their beloved Bantams stunned Premier League leaders Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge.

The Bantams, who travelled to West London as League One play-off contenders, were expected to prove cannon fodder for Jose Mourinho’s imperious Blues and found themselves 2-0 down inside 38 minutes.

What followed was one of football’s greatest ever comebacks — Jon Stead, Filipe Morais, Andy Halliday and Mark Yeates all netting to leave home fans speechless and visiting supporters delirious.

Having stated prior to the contest that a defeat for his side would be a "disgrace", Mourinho showed plenty of class at full-time when warmly congratulating visiting boss Phil Parkison before clapping Bradford players off the field.

Speaking after the clash, Mourinho said: "This is the beauty of football, where a much better team can be beaten like this. Especially in this country and especially in this competition."

Burnley 0-1 Lincoln, February 2017

Lincoln City's Sean Raggett heads home a famous winner for the Imps against Premier League Burnley
Lincoln City's Sean Raggett heads home a famous winner for the Imps against Premier League Burnley

If Luton’s non-league heroics four years earlier had raised eyebrows, then Lincoln’s efforts four years later were almost beyond belief — as Burnley found out in this memorable fifth-round tie.

Managed by Danny Cowley with his brother Nicky acting as assistant, the Imps had already accounted for League One Oldham and Championship pair Ipswich and Brighton to earn an unlikely trip to Turf Moor.

However, it was widely accepted that their run would inevitably come to an end against Sean Dyche’s well-drilled Clarets, who would offer a mixture of top-flight know-how and dogged determination to down their industrious opponents.

Yet Lincoln had another chapter to add to their fairytale when Sean Raggett’s 89th-minute header — their only shot on target in the entire contest — sailed past Tom Heaton to help them book a quarter-final place.

Becoming the first non-league outfit in 103 years to reach the last eight, the Imps would lose 5-0 to eventual winners Arsenal at the Emirates but their achievements remain among the greatest in FA Cup history.

Tags

FA CupArsenalBurnleyEvertonChelseaNorwich City
LiveScore logo

LiveScore: Live Sport Updates

Footbal Scores & Sports News

Get instant notifications with the LiveScore app
app-storegoogle-play
cristiano Ronaldo