West Brom EFL Championship Tactical Analysis

The FA Cup was up to its old tricks this weekend. Three Premier League sides were sent packing by sides from Leagues 1 and 2 and a side from the National League produced one of the shocks of the round. Here’s the FA Cup third round by numbers.

Newport show bags of balls to stun Foxes 

Newport County had failed to win their previous 5 league games, so surely they had no chance when the 2016 Premier League champions rocked up at Rodney Parade. Well, this is the FA Cup we’re talking about it. It doesn’t do form books or ‘teams on paper’ and it certainly doesn’t care for league positions.

County took the lead thanks to Jamile Matt’s towering header, but Leicester equalised late on through Rachid Gheazzi. However, the Welsh side were then gifted the chance to knock out the side 74 places above them in the football league pyramid when Mark Albrighton handled in the area. Padraig Amond kept his composure to score from the spot in the 85th minute.

The scenes of jubilation at full-time showed the enormity of the achievement. The old Newport had gone bust in 1989 and risen back from the footballing wilderness to return to the EFL in 2013.

Their victory over Leicester was their 1st over a side from England’s top tier since 1963-64. Exiles manager Michael Flynn has won 43 of his 102 games in charge of the club, they’d won only 43 of their previous 174 before his appointment.

Flynn is targeting a trip to Anfield in the next round and is hoping his side’s lucrative win can earn them a new bag of balls. On the pitch, the Exiles showed plenty of them.

Oldham send Pete wild 

28 years ago, Oldham Athletic caretaker manager Pete Wild went to his 1st game at Boundary Park with his dad. On Sunday, he led them to an FA Cup giant-killing.

Pete Wild was always supposed to be at Craven Cottage that weekend, but in the away end rather than the Latics dugout. The 33-year-old, who had a ticket for their FA Cup clash with Premier League Fulham was appointed Oldham’s caretaker on the 27th December when the club sacked Frankie Bunn.

When Callum Lang headed home the winner in the 88th minute, Wild the Oldham fan celebrated with as much passion as the 4000 in the Putney End. He produced a display of dancing you’d expect from your dad during the reception of your cousin’s wedding. As football fans we’ve all been there, thankfully for us though, no one was watching.

Oldham were a Premier League club as recently as 1994, but there were 59 places between the League 2 club and Fulham on Sunday.

They reached the semi-finals in 1990 and 1994, but lost to Manchester United both times. In the fourth round Wild is targeting a reunion with the Red Devils, hoping for revenge against the club that “ruined his childhood.”

Thrills from the Gills 

The biggest shock of the Saturday ties came at the Priestfield Stadium as League One Gillingham sent the 2008 finalists Cardiff City packing. The Gills had lost 3 of their last 4 games in the EFL but put a strong Bluebirds side to the sword with a late winner from Elliot List.

They’d last defeated Premier League opposition in 2004 and 15 years on Steve Lovell’s side were at it again. Gillingham had only won 4 of their 13 League One home games this season going into the tie.

Manager Steve Lovell has won 26 of his 73 games in charge of the club and the Swansea-born manager is dreaming of a clash with his hometown club in the next round.

Blades stung by Bees

Barnet will be flying the non-league flag in the next round after a stunning victory away to Championship high-flyers Sheffield United. There were 84 places between them in the league standings, you wouldn’t have known.

Striker Shaquille Coulthirt won the game for the Bees with a 21st-minute penalty. The forward has now scored 4 goals in his last 5 FA Cup starts. His winner also ensured Barnet will be playing in the FA Cup fourth round for only the 3rd time in their history and the 1st time since the 2007-08 season.

It was a day to forget for the Blades, who had won their last 3 Championship games going into this clash. This is the first time Sheffield United have lost to non-league opposition since 1911.

Barnet caretaker boss Darren Currie is the nephew of the Blades’ 1970’s star Tony Currie and after ruining his uncle’s weekend he’s now targeting the job on a permanent basis. Blades manager Chris Wilder has declared his side’s fans “didn’t boo loud enough” after their humbling defeat.

Probably because they were being drowned out by the sound of jubilant celebrations, from the buzzing Bees.

Stanley pile on the misery for Ipswich

Accrington Stanley rubbed salt into the gaping wounds of Ipswich Town’s horror season, dumping the Tractor Boys out of the FA Cup on Saturday. While Billy Kee’s 76th minute winner will have left John Coleman delighted, Ipswich manager Paul Lambert labelled his side “a disgrace.”

Ipswich are 13 places and 1 division above Stanley and average 14,700 more fans a week but make no mistake, this was no upset. Lambert’s side are rooted to the foot of the Championship table, 10 points from safety and with just 2 wins all season. They’ve now not won an FA Cup match since the 2009-10 season.

For Stanley, their third round win was worth £135,000, almost as much as their entire season ticket revenue and 5% of their annual budget. Who knows how much they’ll make with a plump tie in round four? I bet someone does…

Millers star struck at the Etihad 

Every team dreams of being drawn away to the Premier League champions in the FA Cup third round. For Rotherham United and Paul Warne, it swiftly turned into a nightmare as they were whitewashed 7-0 by Manchester City.

The only person to show the Millers any kind of mercy at the Etihad on Sunday was David Coote. The match referee spared them of any further blushes, blowing for full time as soon as the clock hit 90 minutes.

No one could accuse Pep Guardiola of taking the Millers or the FA Cup lightly. Despite making 8 changes, this was far from a weakened side. The City team, including subs, cost over £500 million.

There were 6 different scorers, including Phil Foden who netted his 1st goal at the Etihad. Aged 18 years 223 days, Phil Foden is the youngest player to score in the FA Cup for City since Rony Lopes netted aged 17 years and 8 days against Watford in January 2013.

4 of the 7 assists came from Ilkay Gundagon and Kevin De Bruyne played 67 minutes.  Raheem Sterling was replaced by Leroy Sane after 57 minutes with the score already at 4-0.

It was a day of unwanted records for the Millers. This was their biggest defeat since a 7-0 thrashing at Wrexham in 1995 and their heaviest defeat in the FA Cup, overtaking their 6-0 loss to Brighton in February 1960.

Paul Warne’s side claimed a moral victory of sorts, however. With over 6000 fans making the journey to the Etihad, they can at least claim the highest away following of the third round. They’ll always be able to boast their 1996 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy triumph too, City will never win that.