Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Sun 7 January 2007

Seconds out, round three...

The FA Cup bandwagon rolled into Round Three this weekend, and as ever, we had one or two upsets to get the eyebrows raising.

In years gone by, the third round of the FA Cup has seen many a big name fall by the wayside. We all know about Ronnie Radford and his goal that saw Hereford usurp Newcastle United in 1972. Harry Redknapp's Bournemouth disposed of Manchester United back in 1984 and Mickey Thomas made himself a household name when his free-kick flew past David Seaman to ensure Wrexham reached the fourth round in 1992 instead of Arsenal.

The list goes on, and this season's competition added another two results to it. Newcomers to the Premiership, Sheffield United, found themselves playing host to Swansea City, currently sixth in League One. No danger there, or so you'd think, but three second-half goals from the Welshmen meant Neil Warnock's side would be concentrating on the league from now on.

Perhaps a bigger shock than that was the win by Nottingham Forest over Charlton Athletic. Forest are currently three places above Swansea in League One, but they faced a Charlton side who are now something akin to Premiership veterans. Sadly for them, their form all season has seen them plummet to 19th in the top flight and new manager Alan Pardew had a host of injuries to key players like Darren Bent to deal with.

Forest, however, are enjoying a good run of form under the leadership of former Spurs defender Colin Calderwood and it was two first-half goals from Junior Agogo and Grant Holt that gave them a ticket for the next round at the expense of The Addicks.

Elsewhere, last year's winners, Liverpool, were soundly beaten 3-1 at home by Arsenal thanks to two goals by Tomas Rosicky and one by Thierry Henry who was making his comeback from a recent injury. Liverpool have the chance to get their revenge on the Gunners when they play them again this week in the Carling Cup semi-finals.

Manchester United eased past Aston Villa 2-1 with a first goal for loan signing Henrik Larsson and a last-minute winner by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Martin O'Neill's side still haven't won a match since November 11th 2006 and will now be looking to change their current run of form that's seen them slip to 13th position in the Premiership.

Finally, spare a thought for lowly Macclesfield. Having gone 1-0 down to Chelsea yesterday, they showed an intent not to be overawed by equalising through John Murphy on 40 minutes. Sadly for them, Chelsea were 2-1 up a minute later and a further four minutes later, their goalkeeper was sent off.

A deluge was on the cards and it duly came. Lampard scored a hat-trick, Macclesfield went down to nine men after an injury to Murphy once manager Paul Ince had already made three substitutions, and the home side finished the game 6-1 winners.

It just goes to show that the FA Cup can be a cruel competition as well as one that brings romance and glory, but at least it allows another chance for teams to make wrongs right next season. Hopefully Macclesfield will have their day then.

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