It’s FA Cup 4th round weekend and the blues take on Burnley at home, hoping to secure a place in the fifth round. The blues beat Rotherham 7-0 in the last round, and faced Burnley last season, winning 4-1 at Etihad Stadium.
But, if you’ve followed Manchester City for as long as I have, you will know that the FA Cup has been a great source of hope over the years. You will also know that the hope we had was so often killed by the reality of an embarrassing defeat. It’s not all been bad, so let’s take a look at some of those moments from the past where the blues have excelled and, on occasion, not exactly performed.
1988 – Blackpool
The blues faced Blackpool at Bloomfield Road in the fourth round in 1988. The Seasiders were mid table in division three, while the blues were in the same position, just a division higher. In the last round, it took a last minute equaliser to secure a replay for City, and it happened again on the coast.
Trailing 1-0, the blues were heading for an embarrassing exit when Paul Lake managed to scramble home an equaliser with almost the last kick of the game. The replay took place five days later, and despite Paul Stewart missing a penalty against his former club, City scraped into the fifth round with a 2-1 win.
1989 – Brentford
City were flying in the league and challenging Chelsea and Crystal Palace for promotion when they went to Brentford for a 4th round tie. The London side were a division below the blues, but that didn’t prevent them from producing an FA Cup shock.
The blues found themselves 2-0 down at half-time, but pulled a goal back through Nigel Gleghorn early in the second half. City should have rallied, but it was Brentford that went into the fifth round by securing the tie with a third goal. After reaching the quarter-final last season, City got nowehere near this time. On the plus side, we did win promotion…just.
1994 – Cardiff
The blues had beaten Leicester 4-1 in the last round and went to Ninian Park in the fourth round, hoping to take soon to be chairman Francis Lee to Wembley in the first few months of his reign. The former City man was embroiled in a bitter takeover battle with Peter Swales and aa good run in the cup was just what the fans wanted to see.
Sadly, it didn’t happen as Cardiff produced an FA Cup shock. After falling behind, the blues worked hard to get into the match. It wasn’t meant to be though and their luck was compounded when Keith Curle’s penalty, which would have secured a replay, was saved and Cardiff went through.
2002 – Ipswich
City had been through some dark years by the time they visited Portman Road for a fourth round tie with Premier League Ipswich. Under the guidance of Kevin Keegan, the blues had lost just once in eleven matches, while their Suffolk opponents were fighting relegation.
The blues more than held their own against the Premier League side and took the lead on the stroke of half-time in spectacular style, as Eyal Berkovic volleyed home from just outside the penalty area.
A shock was on the cards, which was made more likely when Shaun Goater made it 2-0 in the second half. Ipswich pulled a goal back, but Goater made it 3-1 with a simple header, before Darren Huckerby embarrassed the Premier League side by rounding the keeper and making it 4-1 to the blues
2004 – Tottenham
Might have mentioned this once or twice before, but 2004 saw what is one of the most incredible comebacks in FA Cup history. After drawing the original tie 1-1 at the City of Manchester Stadium, City travelled to North London for the replay.
The blues were 1-0 down after just two minutes, 2-0 after 24 and striker Nicolas Anelka off through injury, and by half-time, City were 3-0 and a man down as Joey Barton got himself sent off. The blues should have entered damage limitation mode, but what followed was simply out of this world.
Sylvain Distin pulled a goal back from Tarnat’s clever free kick, and when the City keeper made an outstanding double save, it was the catalyst for a comeback. Paul Bosvelt made it 3-2 and Shau Wright-Phillips equalised with nine minutes remaining. Ten man City should really have kept the ball in the corner in the closing stages, but no, they don’t do anything normal. The ball ended up at the feet of Tarnat and his cross was met by Jon Macken, whose guided header fell into the net to send the blues through with a 4-3 victory.
2006 – Wigan
Got to mention this one. Over the last few years, Wigan in the FA Cup have been an absolute pain in the rear for the blues, but in 2006…we beat them!!!
Yes, in the fourth round, Wigan arrived at the City of Manchester Stadium and lost 1-0. Andy Cole scored the only goal in the 84th minute, but it shows we can beat Wigan in the FA Cup!
2008 – Sheffield United
Balloongate occurred at Bramhall Lane in 2008 and it left the blues red-faced as the faced Sheffield United in the fourth Round. Sven Goran-Erikssen’s expensively assembled side were beaten by lower league opposition with the help of a balloon invader on the pitch.
Just 12 minutes had passed when Luton Sheldon’s shot hit a balloon that was still on the pitch and bounced past Joe Hart in the City goal. United increased the lead 12 minutes later, while Daniel Sturridge pulled one back before half-time. It made no difference and City couldn’t score again and the blues went out again.
2014 – Watford
Watford arrived at title-chasing City and many expecting the Hertfordshire club to get an absolute walloping. So it surprised everyone, including the Watford fans when their team went in 2-0 up at the break thank to two goals in a nine minute period.
Enter Sergio Aguero. The Argentine dragged City level by the 79th minute, and after Aleksander Kolarov had given City the lead, Aguero completed his hat-trick in the last minute to break Watford hearts and send City through with a 4-2 win.
2015 – Middlesbrough
The blue were Premier League champions and League Cup holders, but that didn’t phase Championship side Boro. Middlesbrough knocked City out of both cup competitions in the 91/92 season and they were at it again just four years ago.
City were at home, so that should have made a difference, but no. Goalless at half time, Boro took the lead in the in the 53rd minute and secured the win in the 90th to send the reigning champions crashing out of the competition.