Why this season’s FA Cup has shown the world’s oldest club competition still has plenty of magic

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The FA Cup has been delighting crowds for over 150 years and, while it may have a growing number of detractors, it’s still one of the most sought after trophies in world football.

People of a certain generation may suggest to you that the magic of the FA Cup has gone. With top teams often making half a dozen or more changes for early round matches, the seriousness of the cup has been lost for some.

Yet in the third and fourth round of this season’s competition, we have been given a welcome reminder that the FA Cup spark has far from disappeared, and that the competition still means a great deal to lots of the clubs who play in it.

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The third round is the point at which teams below the Championship have their eyes set on most, as this is the stage when Premier League teams enter the frame.

Some top flight teams underestimate lower league opposition, and this season was no different.

Here’s a rundown of the best upsets in the competition so far this year:

Newcastle United 0-1 Cambridge United, Third Round

Cambridge players celebrate after their 1-0 victory after the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Newcastle United and Cambridge United at St James' Park Cambridge players celebrate after their 1-0 victory after the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Newcastle United and Cambridge United at St James' Park
Cambridge players celebrate after their 1-0 victory after the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Newcastle United and Cambridge United at St James' Park | Getty Images

Newcastle United lined up at home to League One outfit Cambridge United in front of a sold out St James’ Park.

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New signing Kieran Trippier made his debut, and Newcastle fans everywhere would have been confident of making it into the hat for the fourth round.

However, thanks to a goal from Middlesbrough-born Joe Ironside, the U’s earned a historic 1-0 victory over Premier League opposition.

Kidderminster Harriers 2-1 Reading, Third Round

Sam Austin of Kidderminster Harriers (right) celebrates with team members after team mate Amari Morgan-Smith scores his teams second goal during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Kidderminster Harriers and Reading at Aggborough StadiumSam Austin of Kidderminster Harriers (right) celebrates with team members after team mate Amari Morgan-Smith scores his teams second goal during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Kidderminster Harriers and Reading at Aggborough Stadium
Sam Austin of Kidderminster Harriers (right) celebrates with team members after team mate Amari Morgan-Smith scores his teams second goal during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Kidderminster Harriers and Reading at Aggborough Stadium | Getty Images

Kidderminster Harriers made sure they would be the lowest ranked team playing in the fourth round by coming from behind against Championship side Reading.

The Royals took the lead at the very end of the first half, but this didn’t deter the hosts. Two goals in 13 second half minutes turned the game on its head and set the National League North side up for a visit from Premier League West Ham.

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Although they took the lead and fought hard, the Harriers suffered last minute heartbreak as the Hammers sealed their place in the fifth round.

AFC Bournemouth 0-1 Boreham Wood, Fourth Round

Boreham Wood fans celebrate after victory in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between AFC Bournemouth and Boreham Wood at Vitality StadiumBoreham Wood fans celebrate after victory in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between AFC Bournemouth and Boreham Wood at Vitality Stadium
Boreham Wood fans celebrate after victory in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between AFC Bournemouth and Boreham Wood at Vitality Stadium | Getty Images

The National League side had already caused an upset in this year’s cup by knocking out AFC Wimbledon in the previous round, but a trip to Championship high-flyers Bournemouth looked a completely different task.

Despite dominating possession, the hosts were unable to create enough meaningful chances and Boreham Wood fought hard to take and hold the lead.

Scenes of Boreham Wood manager Luke Garrard in an emotional state at full time reminds everyone just how much this cup means to clubs who need to work the hardest to get to play football league opposition.

Boreham Wood have been rewarded with a trip to Premier League Everton in the fifth round of the cup, and no doubt anyone who isn’t a Toffees fan will be right behind them all the way.

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