The Best FA Cup Giant Killings - Ranked

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Jan 10, 2021, 11:30 AM GMT
Nothing better than a few pints in the dressing room after a big result
Nothing better than a few pints in the dressing room after a big result / Getty Images/Getty Images

One of the only upsides of cold winter nights is that they can often provide the perfect backdrop to an FA Cup giant killing.

Seeing the elite cut down to size by a plucky underdog is one of the British public's favorite pastimes, which is why cup upsets hold such a special place is so many people's hearts.

But which giant killing is the best of all time? A great question. Here are the 10 greatest - ranked.

10. Wigan Athletic 1-0 Manchester City (2018)

Going into their fourth round tie against League One Wigan Athletic, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City were at the peak of their powers. The Citizens were 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League table and had pumped Leicester 5-1 in their previous fixture.

They subjected Wigan to a similar pummelling, enjoying 82% possession, 29 shots and 15 corners.

Unlike Leicester though, the Latics manage to withstand this barrage and when Fabian Delph was sent off for the visitors, they began to hope. This hope turned into elation in the 79th minute when Will Grigg caressed the ball past Ederson to put them 1-0 up.

Grigg's goal went unanswered, meaning Wigan were one of just five sides (Manchester United, Liverpool, FC Basel and Shakhtar Donetsk) to beat the Citizens that season in all competitions.

9. Colchester United 3-2 Leeds United (1971)

When Fourth Division Colchester United welcomed First Division leaders Leeds United to Layer Road in 1971, everyone in the country was rooting for them - but few gave them any hope of getting a result.

10 of Don Revie's side were internationals with the likes of Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter and Johnny Giles striking fear into the hearts of teams across the country.

Despite their star power, Leeds were shocked when the U's raced into a 2-0 lead in under half an hour, courtesy of a brace from Ipswich Town legend Ray Crawford. Colchester then made it 3-0 just after the break which sparked the mother of all Leeds barrages.

Somehow, the hosts held on to book their place in the quarter finals and spark wild scenes around Layer Road.

8. Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United (2010)

After six years apart, old rivals Leeds and Manchester United were drawn together in the third round of the FA Cup.

The advantage was firmly with United. They were reigning Premier League champions for one and also had the bonus of hosting the game at Old Trafford.

Like with many FA Cup ties before it, the pre-match form guide had very little bearing on this one, with the Whites grabbing a 1-0 win courtesy of a route one goal which was finished nicely by Jermaine Beckford.

7. Sutton United 1-0 Leeds United (2017)

Sutton United's 1-0 win over Leeds in 2017 did not follow the normal script of an FA Cup giant killing.

This was far from the plucky underdogs sneaking through, Sutton genuinely played their opponents off the park - sorry, the 4G pitch we should say.

The U's forced Leeds keeper Marco Silvestri into a string of fine saves before they eventually took the lead from the penalty spot through captain Jamie Collins.

Sutton's reward from their fine performance was a date with Arsenal in the fifth Round where - as you may remember - goalkeeping coach Wayne Shaw ate a pasty on the sideline, which would be wrongly labelled a pie by the media.

6. Norwich City 0-1 Luton Town (2013)

85 leagues positions separated Luton Town and Norwich City when they met in the Fourth Round in 2013.

Wes Hoolahan, Grant Holt and even a fresh faced Harry Kane all featured for the Canaries that day but it was not enough to avoid an embarrassing upset.

After stemming the Norwich tide for 80 minutes, substitute Scott Rendell popped up with a goal for the Hatters, making Luton the first non-league side to defeat a top flight team away from home since 1986.

5. Chelsea 2-4 Bradford (2015)

When Ramires put Chelsea 2-0 up inside 40 minutes against Bradford City back in 2015, you would have been forgiven for switching channels.

If you had done that, you would have missed out on one of the greatest FA Cup comebacks of all time.

Just two minutes after Ramires' strike, the Bantams had pulled one back through veteran striker Jon Stead. Then, during the final 15 minutes the game burst into life with League One Bradford scoring three unanswered goals to secure one of the finest results in their history.

4. Wrexham 2-1 Arsenal (1992)

Reigning First Division champions Arsenal could not have asked for a much easier FA Cup Third Round draw then Wrexham.

The Red Dragons had only avoided relegation to the Conference the previous season on a technicality and had a first team made up of youngsters with a few aging Welsh internationals sprinkled in.

The game got off to the start you would expect with Arsenal dominating proceedings. Alan Smith eventually scored, ensuring the Gunners went into the break 1-0 up.

Wrexham dramatically improved in the second half and would eventually net an irresistible quickfire double in the final ten minutes. First, Mickey Thomas lashed home a fine free kick before Steve Watkins grabbed a winner soon after.

3. Burnley 0-1 Lincoln City (2017)

Burnley survived relegation from the Premier League in 2016/17, but their humiliation would be saved for the FA Cup.

The Clarets were dumped out by non-league Lincoln City, managed by the famed Cowley brothers. After weathering the storm brilliantly, Sean Raggett rose high and nodded home an 89th minute winner.

The game itself was box office viewing with Joey Barton getting rattled by a string of Lincoln players. Scenes.

2. Sutton United 2-1 Coventry (1989)

Sand covered goalmouths? Check. A bricklayer scoring the winning goal? Check. Thousands of spectators straining their necks to get a decent view? Check. Yep, this is definitely an FA Cup giant killing.

Appearing for the second time on this list, Sutton secured their most famous ever victory in 1989, besting Coventry City 2-1.

Skipper Tony Raines headed the U's in front in the first half but that goal was cancelled out by Sky Blues defender David Phillips. Step forward the aforementioned bricklayer, Matt Hanlan, who got onto the end of a great cross to secure his side - and his town - an iconic victory.

1. Hereford 2-1 Newcastle (1972)

The big daddy.

Without Ronnie Radford's incredible strike against Newcastle in 1972, the phrase 'FA Cup giant killing' may not even exist.

Fifth tier Hereford's shock win over the Magpies is the most iconic cup upset of all time and footage of the winning goal still provokes misty eyed reactions from football fans of a certain generation.

With the scores level at 1-1, on a pitch containing more mud then grass, Radford played a quick one two before unleashing an absurd 35-yard screamer into the top corner.

If you need any more proof of the strike's lofty status in footballing folklore, consider this. In 2011, the Ronnie Radford Giant-Killing Award was launched. It is an annual gong given to the side who achieve the most impressive upset in the competition; a fitting tribute to an incredible moment.