FA Cup Alive And Kicking!!
FA Cup 3rd Round weekend was always a very special occasion which has been downgraded over the last few years by Premiership teams fielding weakened sides and not taking it too seriously, and in fact many Championship sides have done the same. But there does seem to have been something of a revival in the last couple of years and the BBC have helped in this respect by a big marketing campaign putting more focus back on the old Cup.
Luckily there have been some cracking cup ties over the last two days which have thrown up some giant killing acts. I am not sure who decided in their infinite wisdom not to show the Eastleigh v Bolton cup tie as a live game on the BBC as it was always a game that had the possibility of producing a huge upset. Eastleigh came so close to a famous victory on their old fashioned mud-heap but Pratley rescued Bolton at the death and so they now face a replay next week at the Macron Stadium.
Wycombe Wanderers also came close to a giant-killing, making the Premiership strugglers Aston Villa work hard to gain a draw and take them back to Villa Park. Even so the League Two team will still fancy their chances away from home as for long periods of the game they looked the superior side.
The big giant-killing act of the weekend came from another League Two team, Oxford United, who swept Premiership Swansea City aside in a thrilling 3-2 victory. It is amazing how much form comes into it when two teams from different levels of the football tiers meet. If the lower ranked team are in healthy form and the higher ranked side struggling for rhythm and points then there is always the chance of a shock on the cards.
Four League One sides did themselves proud also, beating Championship teams to secure their 4th Round spot. Promotion chasing Walsall went to Brentford and stunned the Londoners by securing a 1-0 victory. In the big Welsh derby Shrewsbury went to their more vaunted neighbours Cardiff City and came home with an excellent 1-0 victory too. And Colchester United managed to put their awful League One form behind them (where they are at present second from bottom) and beat Championship side Charlton Athletic 2-1. Finally Peterborough gained an excellent 2-0 home victory against Simon Grayson`s improving Preston North End side.
I can`t wait for the 4th Round to come around now as the FA Cup is a breath of fresh air for the game and gives the opportunity for some of the less celebrated teams to put their name in lights.