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William Wordsworth

'Methinks that there abides in thee, a love for the FA Cup round three!'

For some, the magic of the FA Cup has breathed its last. The once great competition is but a bloated, inconvenient corpse exuding a fetid stench of deathly decay amid more fragrant and important competitions.

But for others, the drama and romance of the world’s oldest cup competition lives on. That is why In Off The Ghost has decided to feature a round-up of the recent FA Cup third round ties from someone who can really appreciate romance, former poet laureate William Wordsworth.

‘Oh reader! The FA Cup returns! No competition in any walk of life that pits men against men in the game of football conjures the qualities in humanity that are so beautiful. The passion of the players, the joy of victory and the despair in defeat. From the Bescott Stadium to Bramall Lane, from Anfield to Sixfields. The FA Cup third round, above all other things, makes me wish with all my heart that I was alive again, to smell the atmosphere, to be a part of the unified voice of the common man in the sell out crowd. To hear them cheering their team on to impossible victory filled by hope’s perpetual breath. To witness that most wonderous of football phenomena: the FA Cup giant killing.

This year the third round has once again proven wrong those who doubt that the FA Cup is still the world’s premier football competition. There was a rollercoaster of wonder and excitement in the top tie of the round as the nation witnessed Man Utd 0-1 Leeds. Jermaine Beckford danced past the Man Utd defence with divine grace and rolled the ball past Tomasz Kuszczak to give the League 1 side a majestic scalp of the most sublime proportions. Dull would he be of soul who could pass by a sight so touching in its majesty!

Another tremendous encounter that my heart leapt up to behold was Reading 1-1 Liverpool. Simon Church’s goal had Rafa Benitez praying his side could redeem themselves as Grzegorz Rasiak wandered lonely as a cloud at the back post to provide the assist. However, salvation came in the form of Steven Gerrard, as he gracefully sent a shot skimming across the lush green turf of the Madejski Stadium to crush the tender hope blooming in Reading hearts.

Other results of note on this most magical of days include Portsmouth 1-1 Coventry, with another Championship side valiantly defying a Premiership outfit entry to the fourth round. The fact that the Premiership team was Portsmouth does not diminish this tremendous display of heroism and pride as a goal from City’s David Bell almost provided the upset we all expect to see from the famous FA Cup third round. But a header from Kevin Prince Boateng levelled the scores for struggling Pompey and sent the terraces into wild spasms of unmitigated ecstasy.

Finally, my heart cannot help but mention courageous Carlisle, who almost rocked the footballing world at Goodison park until being narrowly defeated as their game finished Everton 3-1 Carlisle.’

‘Here are the results in full of a momentous, magical, magnificent FA Cup third round:

Accrington P-P Gillingham
Aston Villa 3-1 Blackburn
Blackpool 1-2 Ipswich
Bolton 4-0 Lincoln
Brentford P-P Doncaster
Bristol City P-P Cardiff
Chelsea 5 – 0 Watford
Everton 3-1 Carlisle
Fulham 1-0 Swindon
Huddersfield 0-2 West Brom
Leicester 2-1 Swansea
Manchester Utd 0–1 Leeds Utd
Middlesbrough 0-1 Man City
Millwall 1-1 Derby
MK Dons 1-2 Burnley
Nottm Forest 0-0 Birmingham
Notts Co P-P Forest Green
Plymouth 0-0 Newcastle
Portsmouth 1-1 Coventry
Preston 7-0 Colchester
Reading 1-1 Liverpool
Scunthorpe 1-0 Barnsley
Sheff Utd 1-1 QPR
Sheff Wed 1-2 Crystal Palace
Southampton 1-0 Luton Town
Stoke 3-1 York
Sunderland 3-0 Barrow
Torquay United 0-1 Brighton
Tottenham 4-0 Peterborough
Tranmere 0 – 1 Wolves
West Ham Utd 1 – 2 Arsenal
Wigan 4-1 Hull

It has oft been said that nothing can breed such fear and awe, as that which falls upon us often when we see the FA Cup fourth round draw:

Southampton v Ipswich
Reading/Liverpool v Burnley
Millwall/Derby v Brentford/Doncaster
Bristol City/Cardiff v Leicester
Stoke v Arsenal
Notts County/Forest Green v Wigan
Scunthorpe v Man City
West Brom v Plymouth/Newcastle
Everton v Nottm Forest/Birmingham
Accrington/Gillingham v Fulham
Bolton v Sheff Utd/QPR
Portsmouth/Coventry v Sunderland
Preston v Chelsea
Aston Villa v Brighton
Wolves v Crystal Palace
Tottenham v Leeds’

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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