The best – and maybe only – good thing about January is that it brings us an annual dosage of FA Cup Third Round wonderment, and this year’s edition could be a classic.
There’s a host of fixtures this weekend which could produce a classic upset, and where there’s an upset there’s a cup hero.
Ronnie Radford, Ben Watson, Mickey Thomas and Lawrie Sanchez are each synonymous with a Cup upset down the years, and there could be a few more joining that list after this weekend is out.
We’ve had a little look ahead at who might be stealing the third round headlines…
Clinton Morrison (Exeter) v Liverpool
The former Republic of Ireland international has already scored in this season’s competition, and it would be a classic FA Cup tale if Jurgen Klopp’s men were knocked out by a player who was at Midland League club Long Eaton less than two years ago.
James Constable (Eastleigh) v Bolton
A well known face among the lower echelons of the game, James Constable could be the latest thorn in Bolton’s wretched season.
Eastleigh’s frontman has bagged six goals in his last 10 games, and was the hero when he scored the winner in his side’s second round win over Aldershot.
The Englishman used to work in a women’s underwear factory during his non-league days, but now boasts a fine record of 10 goals in 23 FA Cup appearances. Should he put Bolton’s knickers in a twist this weekend Constable could be the Cup hero once again.
Jamie Cureton (Dagenham & Redbridge) v Everton
If ever there was a 21st century player who could be described as evergreen, it’s Football League legend Jamie Cureton.
Cureton will turn 41 later this year, but netted 19 times last season and is still a regular for the Daggers this term, scoring in the second round of the FA Cup.
The Englishman brings a much-needed level head to Goodison Park, and what a story it would be if Cureton bagged the winner – John Stones was just six months old, while Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku were less than 18 months when Cureton made his debut for Norwich in 1994!
Matt Tubbs (Portsmouth) v Ipswich
Portsmouth’s Matt Tubbs has been part of the FA Cup story before, scoring the winner in Crawley’s fourth round clash with Torquay five years ago – the reward was a trip to Old Trafford.
Tubbs started that day against Manchester United, and after Wes Brown handed the Premier League giants the lead, Crawley gave it their all and were mightily unlucky not to earn a replay after a spirited performance against Wayne Rooney and co.
Go back a further five years and the then-Salisbury man handed his underdogs a surprise 1-1 second round 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest.
The 31-year-old has missed part of the season with injury, but with 16 goals in 29 FA Cup appearances, what a time it would be for Tubbs to come back to the starting line-up and snatch a goal against Championship side Ipswich.
Scott Boden (Newport) v Blackburn
Newport’s 26-year-old striker provided the heroics in round two, as his effort proved enough to down Barnet and send County through to the third round for the first time since 1986.
The Welsh side’s reward was a home tie with Championship Blackburn, and with Rovers winning just three times on the road this season, who’s to bet against Boden – with three goals in five games – keeping County’s dream alive a little bit longer and knocking out the former Premier League champions?
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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