Lowly Stevenage pulled off the giant-killing shock of the FA Cup third round on Saturday, upsetting Newcastle United 3-1 on a day when several Premier League clubs were sent crashing out.
Stevenage — in the fourth tier of English soccer and ranked 73 places below the Magpies — advanced to the next round courtesy of a second-half Mike Williamson own-goal, a long-range Michael Bostwick effort and a stoppage-time strike from Peter Winn.
Stevenage boss Graham Westley said his team were worthy winners.
“It was fantastic. They deserved what they got for putting in a performance like that against a Premiership side,” he told ESPN. “We played the game on the front foot and played the better football over 90 minutes, and it was good to see the goals go in.”
The Hertfordshire club were only promoted to the Football League this season, 34 years after being founded.
The two sides also met in the fourth round in 1998, with Stevenage securing a famous 1-1 draw at home, before losing the replay 2-1 at St James’ Park.
Stevenage took a deserved lead on 50 minutes when Stacy Long cut in from the left and fired a shot goalwards, only for his shot to take a huge deflection off Williamson and wrong-foot Magpies goalkeeper Tim Krul.
Five minutes later and Stevenage were in dreamland, Bostwick picking up the ball on the edge of the area and lashing a ferocious shot in off the post from 20m to spark delirium at Broadhall Way.
Newcastle’s hopes of staging a fightback unraveled in the closing minutes when second-half substitute Cheik Tiote was sent off for a two-footed tackle.
Joey Barton threw Newcastle a lifeline with a stoppage-time screamer, but Stevenage responded immediately with Winn’s strike.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew admitted Stevenage had shown more hunger.
“The Premier League is all well and good, but a few young boys got caught out tonight by the passion and the physical side of Stevenage,” Pardew said.
The result was comfortably the biggest upset on a day when the Wembley dreams of three other Premier League teams — Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Blackpool — bit the dust.
In a match that saw former Manchester United teammates Steve Bruce and Paul Ince come up against each other at the Stadium of Light, Ince’s Notts County scored a 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Craig Westcarr and Lee Hughes.
The Black Cats pulled a goal back with a Darren Bent penalty to ensure a nervous finale, but their League One opponents held on for a famous win.
Southampton accounted for an under-strength Blackpool in a 2-0 win at St Mary’s, with goals from Lee Barnard and Guly Do Prado.
Championship side Reading, meanwhile, secured their 1-0 victory over the visiting Baggies thanks to a Shane Long goal.
Arsenal survived a scare against Leeds United before snatching a last gasp 1-1 draw against the Championship side at the Emirates.
Cesc Fabregas scored a last-minute penalty to keep the Gunners in the competition after Robert Snodgrass had given Leeds the lead, also from the penalty spot, early in the second half.
Elsewhere, Bolton Wanderers needed two goals in the last 10 minutes from Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander to squeeze a 2-0 win over non-league York City at the Reebok Stadium.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, meanwhile, were held to a 2-2 draw at Championship side Doncaster Rovers.
Premier League Stoke City were also held by Championship opposition, Tuncay Sanli giving them a 1-1 draw against promotion-chasing Cardiff City, who had taken the lead at the Britannia Stadium with a Michael Chopra goal on eight minutes.
There were no such problems for Fulham, who ran riot at Craven Cottage to swat aside Peterborough United 6-2, while Everton also had a comfortable victory at Scunthorpe United, cruising past their Championship opponents 5-1.
Aston Villa relieved the pressure on manager Gerard Houllier with a 3-1 victory at Sheffield United.
West Ham United manager Avram Grant also breathed a sigh of relief after a 2-0 win over Barnsley.
Blackburn Rovers, meanwhile, squeezed past Championship leaders Queens Park Rangers 1-0 at Ewood Park in a match that saw Rangers striker Jamie Mackie suffer a broken leg. QPR boss Neil Warnock branded Rovers forward El Hadji-Diouf a “disgrace” after he appeared to taunt Mackie as he lay injured.
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