Sunday’s FA Cup encounter between Marine and Tottenham is the kind of clash that really captures the imaginations of supporters, as non-league meets Premier League.
Ordinarily such an occasion would mean a potentially vital cash influx for the smaller side, with match tickets selling out quicker than ever and TV crews descending on a modest ground in their droves.
While it won’t be quite the same this time given the coronavirus pandemic, it still promises to be a special day for Marine, who have sold over 5,000 virtual tickets.
Playing in the Northern Premier League Division One North West, the eighth tier of the English football pyramid, Liverpool-based Marine will host a Spurs team that is used to competing in the Champions League.
It represents a whole new kind of challenge for the non-league side, though it is also an opportunity for the unlikeliest of ‘giant killings’.
Ahead of the match, we looked at the Opta data behind contests between non-league sides and the titans of the Premier League.
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 7, 2021
THE SIZE OF THE TASK
‘The magic of the cup’ is that on a given day, any team could potentially beat any other, and that’s surely the attitude Marine will want to take into the weekend.
Though, obviously the reality is rather more stark.
Since the Premier League’s inception in 1992, only twice have non-league sides defeated top-tier opposition.
The first was in 2013 in the fourth round, as Luton Town claimed a 1-0 win over Norwich City.
It ended a run of 27 years since top-tier opposition had lost to a non-league side, with Altrincham having eliminated Birmingham City in 1986.
The only other occasion since then occurred in 2017, as Burnley lost 1-0 to Lincoln City, who made it as far as the quarter-finals.
There is also a coincidental link to that Norwich defeat with Sunday’s contest – Spurs star Harry Kane was in the Canaries’ side that day during an unsuccessful loan period at the start of his career.
Those two wins for non-league teams have come from 52 matches, with 42 unsurprisingly ending in victories for the top-flight sides.