The Good, The Bad & The Ugly EFL

This weekend saw the return of the FA Cup for football league sides, well for Leagues One and Two, at least. As 32 non-league sides were aiming to exceed expectations by making the second round.

This meant that there would be several opportunities for shocks, as well as one-sided wins. And the countries greatest cup competition did not disappoint, with excitement aplenty in this week’s good, bad and ugly from the FA Cup weekend.

Good: Incredible hat-trick nearly topples Tranmere

Football fans from Oxford haven’t had much to get excited about this season, as United are currently sat in the EFL League One relegation zone. And second city club Oxford City are not faring much better in 17th of the National League South.

It was the latter team who aimed to improve those fortunes when they travelled to Tranmere Rovers, who are flying high in EFL League Two. And thanks to the immense efforts of Kabongo Tshimanga, fans were able to head back to Oxford with a smile on their face.

It looked to be heading for a routine Tranmere win after Connor Jennings had given the home side the lead ten minutes before the break.

However, City’s Congolese striker had other ideas, rounding the Rovers keeper just five minutes later to send the game into the break all square. He followed this up with some individual brilliance just past the hour mark to give the minnows the lead.

Jennings then headed in his second to level the scores again with 11 minutes remaining. But Tshimanga was not done yet, as just four minutes later, he converted from close range to spark wild celebrations.

Unfortunately, the non-league side were unable to hang on as James Norwood was left unmarked at the back post to tap in a late equaliser and send the game to a replay.

The result means the sides meet at Court Place Farm next week, with the winner hosting National League North strugglers Southport for a place in FA Cup third round. Whilst Tshimanga may have drawn interest from some EFL clubs after his performance.

Bad: Cambridge crumble in seven-goal thriller

Speaking of sides who have had poor starts to the season, Joe Dunne’s Cambridge United went into their clash at six-tier Guiseley in 19th place. Although they had won their last three games, so would have been hoping to continue that league form here.

However, the FA Cup is all about upsets, and we were delivered an amazing one at Nethermoor Park, in what was arguably the tie of the round.

The game took time to get going, but sparked into life when Will Hatfield drove in a beautiful effort from outside the box on 25 minutes. Cliff Moyo’s cross then found the far corner to double the minnows lead before half-time.

As the EFL side with more footballing experience, you would have expected Cambridge to have come out fighting in the second half. But instead, the opposite happened, as Kaine Felix struck low early in the second half to make it three.

Then, less than ten minutes later, Kingsley James flicked in from a cross to put the non-league side 4-0 up against opponents two leagues above them. Making the result somewhat embarrassing.

The Us were able to salvage some dignity later in the game, as two goals from Jabo Ibehre either side of a tidy George Maris finish meant that the away side came close to a comeback.

The victory for the Yorkshire side means they will host Joey Barton’s Fleetwood Town in the FA Cup second round, as they will be hoping to claim another Football League scalp on home turf.

Ugly: Shots and Bantams swap football for water sports

Nothing can be more frustrating for a football fan than late postponements, especially for the travelling faithful. However, Saturday’s FA Cup tie between National League Aldershot and EFL League One side Bradford City really shouldn’t have gone ahead.

Heavy rain throughout the day had meant that the pitch at the Electrical Services Stadium in Hampshire was suffering from a lot of standing water. This meant that the chance of a free-flowing game was nearly impossible.

The conditions meant that there were also several heavy tackles flying in, with both sides quite fortunate that the stop-start ball didn’t cause any red card challenges.

The one place where the weather couldn’t affect the ball was in the air, as Shots centre-back George Fowler took full advantage when he volleyed home from a corner with the simplest of side-foots.

Unlike Cambridge, The Bantams managed to avoid the embarrassment of going out to a side two leagues below. As Nathaniel Knight-Percival bagged a second-half equaliser, once again from a corner, to send the game to a replay.

The stalemate means both sides will go again at Valley Parade next week, and here’s hoping that the conditions will be better, so that an actual game of football can be played.