Over the years, Manchester City fans have been through the mill in the FA Cup. They have often been promised a good cup run with what could be deemed as easier opposition, only to fall at the first hurdle. Then, there’s the occasions when we faced stronger teams, only to progress. Here we take a look back at some of those moments.
In 1990, the blues were paired at home to fellow First Division side Millwall in the third round. City had already beaten the south London club 2-0 earlier in the season, and two seasons earlier had thrashed them 4-0 at Maine Road. Millwall were struggling in the league and it was seen by some as a formality that City would progress.
As is often in the Cup. It never pans out like that and the visitors held out for a 0-0 draw at Maine Road to take the tie back to The Den. A 1-1 draw ensued in the replay and the tie went to a second replay (yes, we had them in those days). A toss of a coin was lost by the blues and the second replay was held at The Den, a match that City eventually lost 3-1.
In the third round, the blues were drawn at Second Division side Middlesbrough. City had already been dumped out of the League Cup by the same team at Ayresome Park on a cold, foggy night, but on 4th January, things looked so different after Peter Reid had given the blues a first half lead.
It looked like City were going to put the ghosts of the December game to rest until Alan Kernaghan and Paul Wilkinson struck in quick succession to give Boro the lead and passage into the fourth round at the expense of the blues.
In 1993, the blues were drawn at home to Reading, who at the time were in the third tier of English football. It was expected to be a walk in the park for the Premier League club, but a goal for the visitors sent them in 1-0 at half time. City toiled and eventually found an equaliser with 18 minutes remaining, but with no further goals, the tie went to a replay.
Thankfully for City, the blues had their shooting boots on and put four in at Elm park without reply, which saw the blues progress to the fourth round.
For the first time in its current format, City had to qualify for the third round of the Cup, owing to the fact they were playing third division football. Having beaten Halifax and scraped past Darlington, the blues went to Premier League Wimbledon, hoping to cause an upset. City worked hard, but succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Dons.
The blues were drawn away at local rivals Oldham Athletic. City had a decent record at Boundary Park (or to use its real name, Ice Station Zero), and it was widely expected that City would progress. Oldham had been bouncing through the divisions since they were relegated from the Premier League and City boasted the likes of David James, Shaun Wright-Phillips and £5m striker Jon Macken amongst their team.
Those names did nothing though as the blues went a goal down after just 14 minutes. The fans would have been forgiven for thinking City had 75 minutes to claw it back, but sadly they didn’t and the blues exited again at the hands of lower league opposition.
Probably the biggest third round cup shock for City to date came in 2009, when Mark Hughes men were dumped out at home to Nottingham Forest. It was the season of City’s infamous take over by ADUG and their line-up included Vincent Kompany, Elano, Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart, but even they were powerless to stop Forest from taking a two goal lead at the break.
The fans expected City come roar back in the second half, but it was Forest who scored a third goal to send City crashing out.
City return to Middlesbrough in January 2010 under the guidance of new boss Roberto Mancini. Those old enough would still remember the defeat in 1992 and there was some apprehension when the draw was announced. But this was the new City and they progressed to the fourth round, thanks to a goal by Benjani (remember him) on the stroke of half time.
How will the blues fare against Rotherham on Sunday? The two teams have faced each other twice in the FA Cup. In January 1979, the teams played out a 0-0 draw at Maine Road, before City won the replay 4-2. In the league, the teams have faced off eight times, with City winning six and drawing two. The blues are yet to be beaten by Rotherham in any competition, home and away. Hopefully, it will stay like that on Sunday.