Football Features

Five things you might have missed from today’s FA Cup action

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 19:50, 28 January 2023 | Updated: 16:38, 6 January 2024

There’s nothing quite like the FA Cup.

World football’s oldest national competition is still reliable as ever when it comes to providing us with giant killings, upsets and fairytale stories. This season’s tournament has been no different, but we’re firmly behind the magical third round — when the Premier League teams enter — with today seeing the fourth round continuing following Manchester City’s win over Arsenal to kick-start proceedings on Friday evening.

No fewer than 10 matches were played before the late kick-off of Man Utd v Reading meaning it’s only natural if you miss an important or memorable event. But don’t worry – Squawka is here, with five things you might have missed.

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1. King Kelechi

If there isn’t a ‘FA Cup King’ then it’s time we crown Kelechi Iheanacho with that honour. A champion, having played a pivotal role in Leicester City’s breakthrough success in 2021, the Nigerian marksman simply loves this domestic tournament considering his eye-catching numbers. Nothing more than a squad player in the Foxes league campaign, with one start across 14 appearances totalling 289 minutes, Iheanacho knows when the FA Cup is around he’s in Brendan Rodgers’ lineup.

It was the case again when visiting League Two outfit Walsall and they needed him as Leicester ran out 0-1 winners. Iheanacho’s strike, following another effort on the road against Gillingham, moved him onto three in all competitions. It was also his 17th since making his FA Cup debut in 2016 which to provide some context no one has been more prolific than him during this same period. In three previous seasons, Iheanacho has bagged four goals (2015/16, 2017/18 and 2020/21) he’ll be looking to surpass that as Leicester seek another deep run.

2. Marching On Together

It’s hard to believe that Leeds has tasted one FA Cup success. That sole triumph came in 1971 when they outlasted Arsenal courtesy of a second-half Allan Clarke-headed strike. Since then it’s been two final losses (1973 and 1977) as well as two semi-final appearances with the most recent coming over 35 years ago. In fact, recent history couldn’t be any poorer. Before this season it was five consecutive third-round exits with the 2015/16 campaign being the last time Leeds reached the fifth round. Today was an opportunity to equal that feat and despite some recent league struggles Jesse Marsch’s men were up to the task.

Accrington Stanley, we know who they are, were the proverbial banana skin but their Premier League visitors were 0-3 ahead before 70 minutes had been played. Jack Harrison, Junior Firpo and Luis Sinisterra all got on the scoresheet with Leslie Adekoya netting a late consolation for the hosts. Another big score meant Leeds have now scored 10 goals across three games in this season’s FA Cup, needed a replay against Cardiff City last time out, which is as many as they had managed in their previous 14 matches combined in the competition.

3. Nearly a young legend

Reaching the FA Cup fifth round is a milestone Sunderland hasn’t experienced in years. Their last participation beyond round four came during the 2014/15 season. Breaking an eight-year hoodoo at Fulham this afternoon seemed like a possibility especially as they went in front at half-time. Marco Silva’s responded in kind and with everything level in the 90th minute an upset looked to have been completed when Chris Rigg seemingly wrote his name into the history books as the competition’s all-time youngest goalscorer.

His effort was seemingly ruled out via the Video Assistant Referee, as he turned out to be well offside, but what a moment it could have been. Rigg — who is courting attention from Black Cats’ local rivals Newcastle United as well as Manchester United — recently became the club’s youngest-ever outfield player. of their round-three win at Shrewsbury. It was another four minutes this afternoon but chances of regular minutes seem unlikely for now.

“Riggy trains with us twice a week because he is at school the rest of the week,” manager Tony Mowbray said afterwards.

“We have day release for him and he trains with the first team the rest of the time.

“He deserves to play. I don’t put him on for a stunt for the football club. I wouldn’t do that to a 15-year-old.”

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4. Step aside Ward-Prowse

Another team in red-and-white stripes chasing long-awaited FA Cup glory this season is Southampton whose only success famously came nearly five decades back. The club’s recent performances though have been encouraging, reaching quarter-finals at least in their last two seasons. Nathan Jones’ side is fifth-round bound following a narrow 2-1 success over Blackpool though it should have been more straightforward.

Stealing the show was left-back Romain Perraud who netted a brace subsequently doubling his efforts for the campaign in all competitions. Perraud’s opener also ended a streak. Having come from a direct free-kick it snapped James Ward-Prowse’s run of having scored the Saints’ last 16 direct free-kick goals before today. Before the 11-time capped England international went on this run Cédric Soares — against Man Utd in December 2018 — was the last Southampton player not called Ward-Prowse to find the net via this mean. Perraud’s effort went through the wall: “That was an absolute disgrace. That will be sorted out, don’t worry,” new Blackpool boss Mick McCarthy said post-match.

5. Live to fight another day

Along with Fulham v Sunderland, four other ties from today require a replay to settle the score. Among those still left in the hat is League Two outfit Grimsby Town who came into their meeting at Championship side Luton seeking to win a fourth straight FA Cup game, something they last managed to do so in the competition proper since February 1936 when they were a top-flight team.

Having gone into the break 0-1 up, Luton turned it around mid-way into the second half, before Harry Clifton’s equaliser guaranteed both teams will be seeing each again soon. As things currently stand, only Wrexham are ranked lower than Grimsby, the Welsh outfit is the only non-league remaining in the competition.