While most casual football fans follow the Premier League, it’s important to note that it’s not the only league that generates interest in England. Fans in local British communities passionately root for their respective clubs. It’s usually a short hike to the local pub, and fans can watch matches and connect with others that have similar interests with ease.
Those clubs have the opportunity to compete in the FA Cup—where they can earn both prestige and cash that is akin only to England. But it’s a long road to the title.
The EPL scheduled a break in action so its upper-echelon teams could have a comfortable road before their matches. But certain clubs made mistakes by overlooking their opponents. Let’s take a closer look at three matches where the results were anything but predictable
Manchester United 0, Cambridge United 0
In a town known for its academics, a newly-established Cambridge United club played head-to-head with one of the top clubs in England. After 90 minutes of an evenly-played match, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal blamed everything and everyone for the result—from the referees to the condition of the pitch.
Cambridge United manager Richard Money was more reserved, as he claimed his club could win a (replayed) match at Old Trafford. But he also said they were happy to be playing in the tournament in the first place.
Bradford City 4, Chelsea 2
This match seemed to be decided early with the far-more-talented club holding a 2-0 lead in front of their fans at Stamford Bridge. It seemed closing out a bottom-feeder club that had to travel from West Yorkshire would be no problem. Unfortunately for the Blues, someone forgot to relay the message, as the Bantams came roaring back to knock Chelsea out of FA Cup competition.
The match report tells the story, as the Bantams led in both time of possession and shots on goal. And they seemed to improve as the game went on, as they managed to score their last three goals in the final 15 minutes of the match.
Middlesbrough 2, Manchester City 0
This match looked like it was in the bag before it even started, with Manchester City as the clear favorite. Playing at Etihad Stadium against a much weaker opponent (on paper), City fans came out for what they expected would be an easy victory. Their 2014-15 EPL campaign has been a good one, as they currently occupy second place, and are in position to defend their title.
They played their entire starting lineup with the exception of goalkeeper Joe Hart. And they led statistically in each category—except for fouls committed and goals scored. While Middlesbrough is currently in second place in the Championship Division, and is possibly poised for promotion to the Premier League next season.
But the fact remains that Man City were a heavy favorite heading into this match. Yet they could not find the back of the net in the first half, and when Patrick Bamford scored the first goal of the game in the 53rd minute, his club fed off the momentum and never looked back. They added a late goal to seal the deal.
History tells us that few lower-rung clubs make it beyond the third round of the tournament—if they even advance that far. But with many of the upper-echelon clubs now eliminated from FA Cup competition, could this be the year of the underdog?