The circumstances may be extraordinary but the magic of the FA Cup remains judged by the third round action that we’ve seen. All eyes were on Marine v Tottenham at 5pm yesterday, but before that Crawley’s superb display to beat Leeds was a story for the ages. Crawley faced a Leeds side 62 places above them – and one that named a more than respectable starting XI – and absolutely took apart The Whites with three goals from Nick Tsaroulla, Ashley Nadesan and Jordan Tunnicliffe in 22 second half minutes.
This was topped off in the only way that English football could possible provide – The Only Way Is Essex reality TV star Mark Wright coming on as an injury-time substitute. What a game.
Later on, Marine managed to hold out Tottenham for 24 minutes – and nearly took the lead through Neil Kengni’s 25-yard attempt, which beat keeper Joe Hart before hitting the bar – before Spurs’ class showed, although the hosts – ranked 161 placed lower than Spurs – did themselves no harm against a side that did contain Lucas Moura and Dele Alli to name just two of the names present, cheered on by champagne sipping locals from their gardens, with a cut-out of Jurgen Klopp doing the rounds. Ton top of this, Marine sold more than 30,000 virtual tickets, smashing the gate receipts that would have been theirs if fans had
Then, to end it all, Brighton thought they’d avoided extra time when Solly March scored a belter of a goal, only for Brighton goalkeeper Jason Steele to flap at a cross that Adam Webster put into his own net – with a minute left to go. Extra time and then a penalty shootout followed, where Jason Steele made four saves as the visitors snuck through. What a competition.
Stockport County v West Ham United
FA Cup Third Round
20:00 BT Sport 1 / BT Sport Ultimate
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches, since 2010)
First meeting since 1997
From an ante-post perspective, Everton will need to play much better than they did against Rotherham at the weekend but they are through to the fourth and fifth round draw whilst Southampton are already there thanks to the postponement of their third round tie with Shrewsbury, although it remains to be seen if that’s rescheduled.
One more place in the later rounds remains, to go to ether Stockport or West Ham who meet tonight at 8pm. West Ham – one of our ante-post fancies for the tournament – are 1/20 to go through but this week has shown us that anything is possible and the Hammers have plenty of third round woe – in the last eight season they’ve lost at this stage three times and they’ve lost to non Premier League sides for the last three seasons.
Hopefully their better form this season – they are one of a host of clubs that are packed together in the top half of the table, are 15 points clear of the bottom three, and have only been beaten by Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United in their last 15 Premier League matches.
Stockport come into this game in decent enough form, however – they’ve won half of their first first 14 National League games and have beaten higher calibre opposition on their way here in the shape of League One Rochdale.
Their main threats will be John Rooney (yes, the bother of Wayne) and Alex Reid, who have 13 goals between them, and it’s not beyond the realms of imagination that they could land a blow here. Star offer 8/11 about Stockport with a two goal start on the Asian Handicap – meaning it’s stakes back if they lose by two or more – and that could be the way to play this encounter.
RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
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(Excluding Cheltenham 2021 antepost, Premier League 2020/21 Ante Post, Champions League Ante-post, 2021 Grand National recommended bets 14 Nov 2020 & 6 Dec 2020, Cheltenham Festival ante-post bets recommended 26 Dec and 2 Jan, FA Cup antepost recommended 8 Jan)