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The Biggest Shocks in FA Cup History

In this blog, we look at some of the most prominent FA Cup shocks from over the years, many of which cost the bookies a pretty penny!

The Biggest Shocks in FA Cup History
The Biggest Shocks in FA Cup History

Football betting is fascinating for many reasons. As well as the thrill and excitement that comes with betting on the "King of Sports", football is known for throwing up some serious upsets. In this blog, we look at some of the most prominent FA Cup shocks from over the years, many of which cost the bookies a pretty penny!

Sutton United 2-1 Coventry City (1989): 

Non-league Sutton United defeated Coventry City, a top-flight team that had won the FA Cup just two years earlier.

The 1988–89 FA Cup third-round match between Sutton United and Coventry City, played on January 7, 1989, is considered one of the greatest 'giant-killings' in FA Cup history. Sutton United, from the Conference (fifth tier of English football), faced First Division club Coventry City. Despite being clear underdogs, Sutton United won 2–1. The match, held at Gander Green Lane in Sutton, London, saw Tony Rains and Matthew Hanlan score for Sutton, while David Phillips scored for Coventry. The victory was significant as it was one of the rare instances where a non-League side defeated a top-tier club in English football. This match remained the most recent occurrence of such an upset for 24 years, until Luton Town beat Norwich City in 2013. Sutton's achievement was highly celebrated and recognized as a major upset in the football world

FA Cup 2023/24 Odds - Coventry City: 4/1

Liverpool 0-1 Wimbledon (1988): 

Dave Beasant lifts the trophy at Wembley as Wimbledon beat an incredible Liverpool team.
Dave Beasant lifts the trophy at Wembley as Wimbledon beat an incredible Liverpool team.

Wimbledon, a relatively small club, defeated the dominant Liverpool in the FA Cup final, with a penalty save by Dave Beasant being a key moment.

The 1988 FA Cup final, played between Liverpool and Wimbledon, is remembered as one of the greatest upsets in the tournament's history. Liverpool, a dominant force in English football at the time, were heavily favored to win. However, Wimbledon, known for their fighting spirit and physical style of play, managed to secure a 1-0 victory. The crucial moment came when Lawrie Sanchez scored a header from a Dennis Wise free-kick. Wimbledon's goalkeeper, Dave Beasant, further etched the match into history by becoming the first goalkeeper to save a penalty in an FA Cup final, denying Liverpool's John Aldridge. This victory is celebrated as a classic example of the "magic" of the FA Cup, where underdogs can triumph against all odds.

Lawrie Sanchez never looked at this as an upset and stated:

“What you have to realise is none of us at Wimbledon saw our win as a massive giant killing. We finished seventh in the First Division that season and had pushed Liverpool close in both the matches we played against them winning in a one-off game. We fancied we could do it and so it proved.

“Yes, they were the champions, the best team in England, and players like John Barnes, John Aldridge and Peter Beardsley were in their prime, but our attitude was we can beat anyone on our day.’

FA Cup 2023/24 Odds: Liverpool 4/1

Sunderland 1-0 Leeds United (1973): 

Sunderland, then in the second division, stunned Leeds United, one of Europe's top teams at the time, in the final with a goal by Ian Porterfield.

The 1973 FA Cup final between Sunderland and Leeds United is famous for its classic "David vs. Goliath" scenario. Sunderland, playing in the Second Division, faced off against Leeds United, one of the top teams in Europe at that time. In a surprising turn of events, Sunderland emerged victorious with a 1-0 win. The only goal of the match was scored by Ian Porterfield in the first half. A memorable moment from the game was an incredible double save by Sunderland's goalkeeper, Jim Montgomery, which helped secure their unlikely victory. This match remains one of the most celebrated FA Cup upsets, symbolizing the unpredictable nature of the tournament.

FA Cup 2023/24 Odds - Leeds United: 66/1

Wigan Athletic 1-0 Manchester City (2013): 

Ben Watson scored a memorable header that ensured Wigan won the FA Cup despite being relegated in the same season.
Ben Watson scored a memorable header that ensured Wigan won the FA Cup despite being relegated in the same season.

Wigan Athletic, days away from relegation, defeated heavily favored Manchester City in the final with a last-minute goal by Ben Watson.

The 2013 FA Cup final between Wigan Athletic and Manchester City is renowned for its dramatic conclusion. Wigan, who were struggling in the Premier League, faced Manchester City, one of the strongest teams in the league. The match remained goalless until the 91st minute when Ben Watson scored a header from a corner, giving Wigan a historic 1-0 victory. This win was especially remarkable as Wigan became the first team to win the FA Cup and face relegation in the same season, highlighting the unpredictability and charm of the FA Cup.

Several years later Ben Watson revealed:

‘It’s something that is going to be in history for ever, I won’t ever get tired of it. Every time you flick on the telly and the FA Cup is mentioned, my goal is involved,’ said Watson, the former Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion and QPR midfielder.

‘It’s changed my career 100 per cent. I went to Portugal for a family holiday after Wembley. Nobody would have taken much notice of me before but all of a sudden people were asking for my picture and things like that. And it’s carried on.

‘I’ll never get bored of it. I’m not ashamed to say we’ve got a DVD of the game in the house and I’ve watched it with my four-year-old son. What else could top it? Only scoring the winning goal for England in a World Cup final probably.”

FA Cup 2023/24 Odds - Man City: 33/1

Wrexham 2-1 Arsenal (1992): 

Arsenal, the reigning league champions, were shockingly defeated by Wrexham, who were at the bottom of the fourth division.

The Wrexham vs. Arsenal match in the 1992 FA Cup is one of the most memorable upsets in the competition's history. Arsenal, the reigning league champions, were expected to easily win against Wrexham, who were at the bottom of the fourth division. However, Wrexham staged a stunning comeback. After trailing 1-0 from an Alan Smith goal, 37-year-old Mickey Thomas scored a remarkable free-kick for Wrexham. This was followed by Steve Watkin's late goal, which sealed a 2-1 victory for Wrexham and knocked Arsenal out of the tournament. This match is celebrated as a classic example of the unpredictability and excitement of the FA Cup

FA Cup 2023/24 Odds - Wrexham: 250/1

Hereford United 2-1 Newcastle United (1972): 

Beckfor score the decisive goal to send Man United out of the FA Cup in 2010.
Beckfor score the decisive goal to send Man United out of the FA Cup in 2010.

Hereford United, from the Southern League, achieved an incredible upset against Newcastle United in a replay match.

The 1972 FA Cup match between Hereford United and Newcastle United is one of the most famous giant-killing acts in the competition's history. Hereford, then a non-league team, faced Newcastle United, a top-flight club. The match is best remembered for Ronnie Radford's spectacular long-range goal for Hereford, which became iconic in FA Cup lore. The game went into extra time after Radford's equalizer, and Ricky George scored the winning goal for Hereford, completing a remarkable 2-1 upset against the much-favored Newcastle. This match has since become a symbol of the FA Cup's reputation for surprises and underdog triumphs.

FA Cup 2023/24 Odds - Newcastle: 11/1

Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United (2010): 

Leeds United, who were 42 places below Manchester United in the league system, achieved a notable victory at Old Trafford.

The Manchester United vs. Leeds United match in the 2010 FA Cup third round was a significant upset. Leeds United, playing in the third tier of English football at the time, defeated Premier League giants Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford. The only goal of the match was scored by Jermaine Beckford. This victory was particularly noteworthy as it was the first time Manchester United had been knocked out at this stage of the FA Cup under Sir Alex Ferguson, and it highlighted the unpredictable nature of the competition.

Winning goalscorer Beckford recalls his goal:

‘My first touch was a bit bad! But then as soon as I had taken the shot, I knew it was on target. I wasn’t sure about the ground. I’ve hit it, I’ve looked, it’s going in, then it’s going wide, then it’s going back in. I’m thinking, “Please go in. Please, please go in”

‘I knew what it meant. I didn’t feel the pressure until that moment. I was thinking, “This has to go in”. Then you just heard the roar of the Leeds United faithful.’

FA Cup 2023/24 Odds - Leeds United: 66/1

Shrewsbury Town 2-1 Everton (2003):

Shrewsbury Town, struggling in the Football League, pulled off a surprising win against Premier League side Everton.

In the 2003 FA Cup, Shrewsbury Town, then near the bottom of the Football League, pulled off a significant upset by defeating Everton, a Premier League team, 2-1. Nigel Jemson was the hero for Shrewsbury, scoring both goals, including a dramatic late winner. This match stood out as a classic example of an underdog triumphing against a top-tier team, showcasing the unpredictable and exciting nature of the FA Cup.

FA Cup 2023/24 Odds - Everton: 40/1

Chelsea 2-4 Bradford City (2015):

Jon Steed bagged a brace as they shocked the 'Blues" at  stamford bridge. 
Jon Steed bagged a brace as they shocked the 'Blues" at  stamford bridge. 

Bradford City, from League One, came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Chelsea, who were the Premier League leaders, at Stamford Bridge.

In the 2015 FA Cup match, Chelsea initially led 2-0 with goals from Gary Cahill and Ramires. However, Bradford City staged a remarkable comeback. Jon Stead scored first for Bradford, reducing the deficit before halftime. In the second half, Filipe Morais equalized, and then Andy Halliday put Bradford ahead. Mark Yeates added the fourth goal, sealing a 4-2 victory for Bradford City against the Premier League leaders, making it one of the most memorable upsets in FA Cup history.

FA Cup 2023/24 Odds - Chelsea: 6/1

Norwich City 0-1 Luton Town (2013): 

How the tables have turned since this amazing cup exit for Norwich, as Luton Town reside in the Premier League whilst Norwich are somewhat struggling in the Championship.
How the tables have turned since this amazing cup exit for Norwich, as Luton Town reside in the Premier League whilst Norwich are somewhat struggling in the Championship.

Non-League Luton Town defeated Premier League Norwich City, marking a historic win as a non-League side beat top-flight opposition in the FA Cup.

In the 2013 FA Cup, Luton Town, then a non-league team, achieved a notable upset by defeating Norwich City, a Premier League side, 1-0 at Carrow Road. The only goal of the match came from Scott Rendell, who scored in the 80th minute. This victory was significant as it marked the first time in 24 years that a non-league team had beaten a top-flight club in the FA Cup, highlighting the competition's tradition of surprising results and underdog triumphs.

FA Cup 2023/24 Odds-  Luton: 100/1

Betting on the FA Cup

If you are looking to place bets and predict the next FA Cup action, registering with the best football betting sites will put you in good stead! Recommended betting sites for FA bets include:

Ladbrokes

William Hill

Coral

BetGoodwin

Interbet Sportsbook