Sports writer, Alex Davis, takes a look at the biggest upsets in the first round of the FA Cup.
Last weekend, saw the first round proper of the 2016 Emirates FA Cup take place. The ‘big’ teams of the Championship and Premier League do not enter the competition until round three, but that didn’t mean that cup upsets could not take place. Here are the top 5:
5) Dover Athletic 1-2 Stourbridge
Non-league West Midlands outfit Stourbridge progressed through to the second round after a brilliant 2-1 win away at Dover Athletic. Having won 7 out of their last 8 league games, Dover lie 3rd in the Vanarama National League table. By contrast, Stourbridge ply their trade two divisions below in the Evo-Stik North and were hugely unfancied going into this game. Chris Lait’s opener was cancelled out by Aswad Thomas before seasoned veteran Karl Hawley was brought down in the box and dispatched the resulting spot kick. The Glassboys hung on to a surprise victory and set up a second round tie with Eastleigh.
4) Crewe Alexandra 0-1 Eastleigh
Had Crewe not been rooted to the bottom of League One, this is surely a result that would have ranked higher in this list. However, that is not to take anything away from Eastleigh who, sitting in 7th place in the National League, went in to the game as underdogs. Ben Strevens’ penalty was enough to separate the two sides in a tightly contested affair and secure a place in the second round for the South coast outfit for the second consecutive season.
3) Altrincham 1-0 Barnsley
Lee Johnson must surely be counting his blessings that he still occupies the managerial hot-seat at Barnsley after an eighth consecutive defeat for the Tykes. Having been in such bad form going into the game, it is perhaps not that big a surprise that they were overcome by their National League opponents. However Altrincham went into the game on the back of a 5 game winless streak themselves; a run which has seen them head towards the drop-zone in England’s fifth tier. Hotshot Damian Reeves’ 46th minute strike was enough to settle the game and send the home crowd into raptures.
2) Salford City 2-0 Notts County
Salford City kicked off this season’s FA Cup first round proper in style with a convincing 2-0 win over League Two side Notts County. Aired live on the BBC, Salford knocked the ball around purposefully, dominating their supposedly superior opposition. Ex-pro Danny Webber opened the deadlock less than 20 seconds into the second half before Richie Allen sent Salford’s ‘class of 92’ owners into delirium with a stunning goal on 73 minutes. Notts County huffed and puffed but struggled to fashion a meaningful attack as the semi-professional outfit sealed their progression to the second round. Salford’s status as an Evo-stick north side is somewhat false due to their vast wealth and subsequent squad strength, however beating a side three divisions above is no mean feat and thus deserves its place in this list.
1)Bristol Rovers 0-1 Chesham United
Following their promotion from the Conference last season, Bristol Rovers have begun this campaign well and lie 3 points outside the League Two play-off places with a game in hand. When they were drawn at home to Chesham United, they must have fancied their chances of progression. The Generals occupy a lowly 17th spot in the Southern League Premier and travelled to Bristol as rank outsiders, yet it was they who had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring after 28 minutes. Bradley Wadkins was felled in the box and up stepped David Pearce to take the resulting penalty. However he failed to capitalise as Lee Nicholls saved in the Rovers net and what looked like Chesham’s golden opportunity went begging. Yet the Buckinghamshire outfit were not deterred and continued to battle away. Their reward came deep into the second half as Ryan Blake’s strike secured progression into the second round for just the second time in their history. Ranked 75 places below their hosts, Chesham United upset the apple cart and provided the biggest shock of the round. Next up for them is a tricky away tie at either Bradford City or Aldershot Town.