Humbling, embarrassing, shocking – all words used to describe the FA Cup exits of the Premierships’ two top clubs Chelsea and Manchester City over the weekend to lower league opponents. Despite leading 2-1 at half time, Chelsea folded in the second half eventually losing 4-2 to an impressive Bradford City. Jose Mourinho gave his team the silent treatment following their disastrous second half performance and rightly so. The current Premiership leaders have been in great form to date but failed to show up in the second half with League One side Bradford taking advantage. Three goals in fifteen thrilling minutes won the game with former Chelsea’s youth player Filipe Morais starting the rout. Further goals from Scottish midfielder Andy Halliday and Mark Yates sealed the win for Phil Parkinson’s side and continues their journey in the cup. Chelsea did rotate their squad in preparation for the match but the quality was still apparent and should have been enough to dispatch Bradford. But in the end, Bradford wanted it more and were rewarded for their efforts with the win.
Similarly not at the races, Manchester City crashed out of the cup thanks to two superb goals from Middlesbourgh. It’s debatable whether City even cared about this competition given that they only arrived back from Abu Dhabi the day before. Having spent the week in the Arab state, City flew back on Friday arriving late that night which is hardly ideal given that they had the option to return the day before. City lined up with a strong enough team but most of their players still looked like they were on the beach enjoying the Middle East sunshine. Middlesboro, who are flying high in the Championship under the tutelage of Aitor Karanka looked weary of their jetlagged opponents at the start but did managed to hold off the Premiership Champions until the break. Several great save from Thomas Mejias and some solid defending prevented City from breaking the duck early on in the match but soon Middelsbourgh rallied sensing that City were there for the taking. In the second half, Middlesbourgh were transformed and on the attack from the first kick of the ball. It was clear that they wanted it more and were duly rewarded with a goal courtesy of Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford on the 53rd minute. After some messy play in the centre of the park with City failing to clear its lines the ball fell to Albert Adomah who was clear through on goal only to be challenged woefully by City stopper Wily Caballero. Failing to clear the danger the ball ricocheted off of the Middlesbourgh midfielder and towards the goal. The race was now on between Bamford and Kompany to see who could get to the loose ball. Despite having half a yard on Bamford, Kompany struggled to get back and watched as Bamford knocked the ball in.
Once the first goal went in, Middlesbourgh looked the more likely to add further misery to City especially when Lee Tomlin spun round Kompany and curled a shot past Caballero with the outside of his right foot. However the post came to City’s rescue, keeping the Premiership side in the running. In a rare attack, Frank Lampard almost drew his side level with a superb curling effort that bounced back off of the far post, much to the relief of Mejias in goal. That near miss spurred Middlesbourgh on who eventually made the win certain with a well worked second goal from substitute Kike.
Both Bradford and Middlesbourgh now go into the next round in what is becoming one of the most open FA Cups in recent years. They are joined by fellow lower league sides Preston, Rochdale, Sheffield United, Blackburn, Bolton, Derby, Fulham and Reading with Cambridge United also in with a shout if they can dispatch Manchester United in their Fourth round replay. The magic of the cup is very much alive, at least for another round.