Each season, Non-League sides dream of a cup win against top-flight opposition. We look back at five of the best giant-killing performances in Non-League history.
When Norwich City hosted Luton Town in the fourth round of the FA Cup on January 16, 2013, no Non-League side has ever beaten Premier League opposition. And the last away win by a Non-League side at a top-flight club came in 1986 when Altrincham won at Birmingham City. The scores remained level until ten minutes from time when Scott Rendell scored the only goal of the game to send Luton to the fifth round for the first time in nearly 20 years.
On February 18, 2017, Lincoln City travelled to the North West to take on Premier League side Burnley knowing a win would make them the first non-league side to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals since Queen’s Park Rangers in 1914. The game appeared to be heading for a draw when Imps defender Sean Raggett rose above the Burnley defenders at the far post to head home the winner. There was a brief moment of anxiety before goal-line technology confirmed the ball had crossed the line to send the 3,210 travelling fans into rapture.
Coventry City were still a top-flight force back in January 1989 and had won the FA Cup just 18 months before this third-round tie away to Conference side Sutton United. Unsurprisingly, the Sky Blues were odds-on favourites in the football betting odds. The home side opened the scoring through Captain Tony Rains after 42 minutes before David Phillips equalised for the First Division side seven minutes after the break. Just seven minutes later midfielder Matthew Hanlan dealt the killer blow to send the home crowd at Gander Green Lane wild. It was 24 years before another non-league club beat a top-flight team.
West Brom were competing in the old Second Division when they were drawn against Diadora League side Woking in the third round of the 1990/91 FA Cup. The first half went according to the script as the visitors took the lead. However, no one could have predicted the football feats that the Non-Neaguers served up in the second half as Tim Buzaglo (who also played cricket for Gibraltar) scored a hat-trick in 15 minutes to turn the game on its head. The striker made a guest appearance on Match of the Day that evening before fading back into obscurity as Woking’s dream run was ended by Everton in the next round.
This is the game that epitomised the phrase “giant-killing” as Non-League Hereford United dumped First Division Newcastle United out of the 1971/72 FA Cup in the third round replay. The fact the first match had resulted in a 2–2 draw was a shock in itself and created a sense of anticipation ahead of the replay. The game was played in muddy conditions in front of a crowd of around 15,000. Fans without tickets climbed buildings, trees and floodlight in order to gain a vantage point. With eight minutes left, Newcastle took the lead through Malcolm Macdonald before Hereford midfielder Ronnie Radford replied with a 40-yard thunderbolt to take the game to extra-time. Substitute Ricky George netted the winner after 103 minutes to spark a pitch invasion and send his team into the fourth round.