The Greatest FA Cup Upsets of All Time

The football season is almost here and what better way to kick things off with the oldest cup competition in English football? It’s been around for 146 years and there’s certainly been some unbelievable results throughout that time! So, sit back, relax and take a look through the list of the most recognisable giant killings of the glorious competition.

Wrexham 2-1 Arsenal (3rd Round, 1992)

wrexham fa cup

Let’s kick things off with the Welsh vs the English, Wrexham vs Arsenal. This game was truly one of the greatest FA Cup upsets of all time as Football League Fourth Divison, Wrexham, incredibly defeated First Divison side, Arsenal.

Arsenal had first blood in the tie when they opened the scoring from striker, Alan Smith, to go 1-0 up at The Racecourse Ground. Every Wrexham fan in the ground must’ve thought, “Oh here we go, we’re going to concede about 10 here.”

However… with 8 minutes to go, on the 82nd minute mark, Wrexham winger, Mickey Thomas stepped up to take a free kick just outside the area. He BLASTED home a superb free kick to shock the Arsenal fans and to make it 1-1.

Wrexham STILL weren’t going to settle for a replay, they still kept pushing forward and piling the pressure on The Gunners. With only a few minutes left to play, Steve Watkin found himself in the box for Wrexham in the 84th minute… he shimmied his way past Arsenal captain, Tony Adams and slotted the ball underneath David Seaman! It was a night of pandemonium for Wrexham and a night of pure humiliation for First Division giants, Arsenal.

Chelsea 2-4 Bradford City (4th Round, 2015)


Chelsea were top of the Premier League and had only lost 2 games in the league all season leading up to this 4th round tie. Bradford City were sitting in 6th place in League One, a total of 49 places below Chelsea. It seemed it would be a simple victory for Chelsea and no one even expected what The Bantams would go on to achieve…

It was smooth sailing from Chelsea right up until the 41st minute. Goals from Gary Cahill and Ramires put Chelsea 2-0 up and it already seemed like there was no way back for Bradford.

At the other end of the pitch, it was Bradford causing the possibility of an upset as Jon Stead beat Petr Cech with a rocket of a hit from the edge of the box. Bradford were only   2-1 down at half time and an upset was still on the cards.

The second half came and The Bantams were still hunting for that all important killer equaliser. In the 75th minute, a long throw was launched into the Chelsea penalty area causing all sorts of havoc. A low shot was struck from James Hanson but Petr Cech denied him but then the ball came out to Filipe Morais who buried home the equaliser!

League One Bradford weren’t done there though! With less than 9 minutes remaining, they had Chelsea in their pocket. Morais whipped in a ball into the box which found Jon Stead, who couldn’t shoot himself so he gave it to the open man of Andew Haliday who smashed the ball into the back of the net! There were truly unbelievable scenes from the Bradford fans behind the goal as the dream of humiliating Chelsea was in their own hands.

The Bantams were running rampant at this point and were hungry for more! Beautiful link up play between Mark Yates and Jon Stead created another golden opportunity in front of the City fans. Stead did well to hold off his man and clip it through to the path of Mark Yates who calmly finished brilliantly passed Cech to make it 2-4!

An unforgettable day for Bradford fans and another remarkable FA Cup upset to add to this list.

Sutton United 1-0 Leeds United (4th Round, 2017)

sutton leeds

Another 4th round miracle in this list as Sutton United from non-league defeated high flying Championship opponents Leeds United. Sutton United and fellow non-league side Lincoln City were one of the biggest talking points throughout the 16/17 FA Cup season. This result being one of the biggest between the two.

Nobody expected the National League side to reach the 1st round, let alone the 4th. Leeds United were expected to ease past “little ol’ Sutton” and head straight into the 5th round. However, Sutton took the lead through Roarie Deacon in the first half… or so they thought. Deacon was called offside by the linesman to deny Sutton an early lead.

Leeds showed no fight or determination against the non-league side as it was 0-0 at half time and Sutton were holding them off very well. Around the 53rd minute, a long ball was launched just inside the Leeds penalty area as Maxime Biamou was fouled by Leeds keeper Marco Silvestri. A penalty was awarded to the non-league side. Sutton captain, Jamie Collins stepped up to the spot and fired home with his left foot!

Sutton fought hard and long for the rest of the game to keep hold of the precious lead against the Championship side. The full time whistle blew and Sutton were heading into the 5th round of the FA Cup! There were unreal scenes at full time as the Sutton fans joined their heroes on the pitch for what was an astonishing day for all non-league fans.

Burnley 0-1 Lincoln City (5th Round, 2017)

lincoln burnley

Lincoln City became the first non-league club in 103 years to reach the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup. This result has the possibility to be the biggest FA Cup upset of all time! Lincoln City were undoubtedly the underdogs as they took on Premier League club, Burnley.  Lincoln manager, Danny Cowley, said “Impossible is just an opinion.” He definitely proved his quote right when The Imps defied the odds and defeated Burnley.

Lincoln defended off Burnley for a strong majority of the match. They showed true fight and strength throughout the whole game and it looked liked they’d get the reward of a replay at Sincil Bank.

In the dying seconds of injury time, Lincoln were given a corner. They had the chance to grab something even more valuable than a replay… a place in the Quarter Finals. A brilliant corner was fired into the box in hopes to find a Lincoln man on the end if it. Defender, Sean Raggett was the man on the end as he headed it in for The Imps!

There were truly incredible celebrations from the Lincoln fans and players at full time! They won’t be forgetting that memorable day in a heartbeat…

Norwich City 0-1 Luton Town (4th Round, 2013)

luton 5th round

In this incredible game, Luton Town became the first non-league side to knock a team out of the FA Cup in the top-flight since 1989. Another first tier humiliation in this list as Norwich City became the victims to non-league side, Luton Town.

Luton Town were 6th in the Conference Premier and Norwich City were 13th in the Premier League, an absolutely huge gap between the two teams. However, Luton were not prepared to let that get in their way of causing an upset over the top-flight club.

Norwich fought hard against a very defensive Luton but couldn’t quite break down the barrier. Luton hardly had any chances the whole game, let alone the first half.

When the second half came around, Norwich were still pressing to open the scoring but they just couldn’t take their chances. Suddenly, with Norwich became too attacking minded and completely forgot about their defensive duties. Luton caught them on the counterattack, Stuart Fleetwood burst down the wing and found JJ O’Donell who brought it into the box looking to pick out a Luton man. Scott Rendell was in the area who neatly tucked away his chance into the top right hand corner!

The full time whistle blew as they became one of the only few non-league teams to knock a top-flight side out of the competition! A remarkable story indeed.

Bournemouth 2-0 Manchester United (3rd Round, 1984)


Now, let’s rewind the Harry Redknapp’s first ever major coaching role which was at Bournemouth back in the mid 80s. Redknapp helped Bournemouth escape relegation to the fourth tier of English football at the end of the 82/83 season. The following season, he would see his side complete a massive shock in the FA Cup against Manchester United.

The manager of The Red Devils at the time was Ron Atkinson and they were currently holders of the FA Cup. On paper, the tie looked like a very straight forward victory for Manchester United. A First Division club against a side in the Third Tier, it seemed it would be smooth sailing for the whole 90 minutes.

However, there was a twist in the air (as there always is) in this amazing competition. Harry Redknapp’s men fought long and hard and they certainly got their reward when a complacent United saw Milton Graham open the scoring for The Cherries.

Just one goal was a shock in itself from Bournemouth and a victory would’ve been a whole different scenario. To make matters worse for United, Ian Thompson added a SECOND for the underdogs. AFC Bournemouth of the third tier were winning against the FA Cup holders…

The full time whistle was blown and Bournemouth progressed to the 4th round of the FA Cup. While Manchester United were blown away by the fight and determination from the small club from the south of England.

Sutton United 2-1 Coventry City (3rd Round, 1989)

sutton coventry

Before Luton Town beat Norwich City, there was another time when a non-league side defeated a club from the highest tier of English football. This was the time when Sutton United caused their first ever shock of the competition… when they knocked out Coventry City back in 1989.

Back in 1987, Coventry performed their own mini-upset as they defeated Tottenham in the final to win the FA Cup. However, fast forward 2 years and they became the victims of an upset. The first goal was scored by Tony Rains for Sutton United as they went 1-0 up at their home ground, Gander Green Lane. A corner was looped in as the Coventry keeper failed to reach the ball and Rains simply headed into an empty net.

Sutton were 1-0 up at half time but only a few minutes later, Coventry equalised through David Phillips. Lovely passing play from The Sky Blues saw them grab the goal to hopefully spare them from humiliation.

The scores were level for only 7 minutes as Sutton were given another corner. The ball was played to the edge of the area to Phil Dawson who chipped the ball into the box. It missed every Coventry player and landed to the feet of Matthew Hanlon who tapped it into the empty net!

Sutton United’s victory of Coventry City will go down in history as one of the greatest upsets in FA Cup history.


What do YOU think was the greatest FA Cup upset of all time?

Comment below!

By Dylan Scarborough  (@Scaarbs


2 Comments Add yours

  1. jg says:

    Missed out Everton 0-3 Tranmere ahahah


  2. exileboy101 says:

    Hereford 2-1 Newcastle


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