Since today is the first ever meeting between Cheltenham Town and Manchester City, we can’t exactly do a head to head – P0 W0 D0 L0 doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. So here’s a look back at some 4th round matches from yesteryear, when lower league opposition would be eying the fifth round with anticipation.
1988 - Blackpool
City had needed a last minute equaliser and two replays in the last round to get past Huddersfield, and were drawn away at Blackpool in the next round. The Seasiders were 12th in Division Three and had won seven of their 14 home games so far.
A City win was expected, so blues fans were not surprised when Blackpool took the lead and City again faced an FA Cup exit until the last minute. The blues piled into the penalty area and, in a goalmouth scramble that VAR would take one look at and say ‘f*** that,’ the ball finally ended up in the back of the net to save the blues blushes. Any one of 21 players could have been credited with the goal, but it was awarded to Paul Lake
City won the replay 2-1, but not before Blackpool old boy Paul Stewart put a penalty about 3 miles past the post. Blackpool also scored a stunning goal after City had taken the lead.
1989 – Brentford
In 1989, promotion chasing City went to Brentford, who were then 11th in the third division. This match shouldn’t have been a problem for Mel Machin’s side, who had finally sorted their travelling issues out. However, it turned into a frustrating day for the travelling faithful.
Brentford were 2-0 up by half time and when Nigel Gleghorn pulled a goal back, surely a City comeback was on the cards. No, Brentford scored a 3rd and the blues went out 3-1. We did win promotion though!
1994 – Cardiff
In 1994, the blues were actually being touted to make a Wembley appearance, as some pundits were predicting we might win the trophy, and the faithful would have been forgiven for believing them when they arrived at League One Cardiff.
Nathan Blake scored in the 64th minute and Mark Grew in the Cardiff goal saved a penalty from Keith Curle as Cardiff pulled off a shock result.
2002 – Ipswich
In 2002 it was City’s turn to pull off a shock result. The blues were chasing promotion, while Ipswich were fighting relegation from the Premier League, and the BBC decided to screen their FA Cup fourth round tie live from Portman Road.
Eyal Berkovic hammered City in front just before half time with a superb volley from outside the area. Shaun Goater then made it 2-0 before the home side pulled a goal back. Goater made it 3-1 and Darren Huckerby beat the offside trap to score City’s fourth and send Kevin Keegan’s men emphatically through.
2004 – Spurs
City needed a replay, a sending off and a miracle to edge past Spurs in the fourth round in 2004. After the first game in Manchester ended 1-1, the blues went to White Hart Lane and, by half-time, they were 3-0, star striker Nicolas Anelka off with injury and Joey Barton off because he just didn’t know when or how to keep his mouth shut.
Ten man City then produced on of the best FA Cup comebacks in history. Sylvain Distin scored within a few minutes of the second half, Paul Bosvelt made it 3-2 with a deflected strike and Shaun Wright-Phillips equalized with 10 minutes to go. City then somehow managed a winner when Jon Macken headed home to win the tie 4-3.
2006 – Aston Villa
City needed a replay to edge past Villa, but this match will be remembered for a certain Micah Richards. The defender burst onto the scene and scored a last minute equaliser to send the tie back to Manchester, but it was his after match interview that caught the eye.
Asked how he felt, Micah used a certain word beginning with F to express his feelings and was promptly reminded that the broadcast was live. Gary Lineker then apologized to anyone who was offended by Richards’ words!
2008 – Sheffield United
In 2008, Sven Goran Eriksson’s City went Bramhall Lane and were beaten for the sixth time in the FA Cup by United, however the home side could than a couple of balloons for their opening goal.
Lee Martin’s cross from the left hit two balloons that the travelling City fans had released, which confused Joe Hart and Luton Shelton hammered home when Hart thought a balloon was the ball. United went 2-0 up before half time, and a goal from Daniel Sturridge was not enough for City to mount a comeback.