Fans or no fans, the FA Cup never lets you down, does it?
The magic of the cup might feel like nothing more than a tired old platitude when Spurs are being particularly unkind to a team from the eighth tier, or when Liverpool are try-harding their way to a 4-1 win over some children from Birmingham.
But try telling Chorley, Crawley, Blackpool or Plymouth Argyle that there isn’t something to the competition’s special reputation.
As a tumultuous third round draws to a close, Stockport versus West Ham aside, 90min have taken a look back over all of the weekend’s fixtures, and named out best XI.
Chris Maxwell (GK) – The Blackpool keeper was a steady pair of hands for his side as they took West Brom to penalties, and then became the hero. The Welshman made three saves in the shootout, including the decisive stop from Matheus Pereira, to send his team through.
Joe Edwards (RB) – In a round packed with fairytale drama, Plymouth’s win over Huddersfield was one of the lower profile upsets – but try telling that to the League One side who came from behind twice to book their place in the hat. The winning goal was netted by captain Edwards, who burst forward from the right to get on the end of a cross and send his team through.
Dominic Revan (CB) – Revan was a composed standout at the heart of an Aston Villa back four that was under siege for 90 minutes against a strong Liverpool team. Villa’s kids could hardly have asked any more of themselves in the circumstances and Revan – captain on the night – may have played himself into first team contention.
Jordan Tunnicliffe (CB) – Crawley’s rampant win over Leeds was the story of the round as the League Two side stood up and matched the Premier League high-flyers blow for blow. The rout was complete when Tunnicliffe swept one in from close range, a just reward for the bravery, leadership and commitment he had shown throughout.
James Justin (LB) – Might have scored the goal of the competition so far as he came in from the left and curled a beauty into the far corner. Helped Leicester to a resounding 4-0 win over Stoke – a tie that quickly shed off its banana-skin credentials.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (RM) – Chelsea weren’t at their best but racked up a 4-0 win over Morecambe as Hudson-Odoi ran the show from out wide. He scored one, assisted another, and gave Frank Lampard something to think about when he picks his team to face Fulham at the weekend.
Mike Calveley (CM) – Chorley’s win over Derby might have lost its ‘giant-killing’ edge, since nine of the Derby players were making senior debuts, but it was still a monumental result for the sixth-tier side. At the heart of it all was 21-year-old Calveley, whose winning goal booked their progress to the fourth round.
Bernardo Silva (CM) – A 3-0 win over Birmingham was about what we expected from Manchester City but the game was dead after 15 minutes thanks to an explosive double from Bernardo. Instrumental performance in the heart of midfield.
Nick Tsaroulla (LM) – There may have been 64 teams in action but Crawley were so good they are getting two spots in the XI to themselves. After a trying couple of years, the former Spurs kid netted a stunning solo effort that kick-started the Leeds implosion, and perhaps his career.
Carlos Vinicius (CF) – Whether you love or hate the unfiltered sh*thousery of Vinicius hammering the ball into the net from half a yard out against an eighth-tier team and then celebrating it by flexing for the camera, you have to admire his performance. Two of the easiest goals you will ever see preceded a delicious third and the match ball.
Joshua King (CF) – Bournemouth’s 4-1 win over Oldham was one of the ‘meh’ results as far as neutrals are concerned, but it was instrumented by King who got off the mark for the season with a late double that put the Cherries out of sight. He had earlier laid off David Brooks for the opener and was generally an absolute pest.