The Football Association has announced that there will be no FA Cup replays next season in a bid to “ease pressure” on the footballing calendar in the wake of covid-19-related disruption.

Time is expected to be tight for English clubs next season with the football calendar set to include all three domestic competitions even though Premier League is scheduled to start on September 12 and finish by May 23 next year. That’s before we even think about European football…

As a result, replays in football’s oldest competition have been axed to allow as much rest time as possible within such a hectic schedule.

The news has been met with jubilation by many who have been campaigning to remove the extra load from an already crowded fixture list.

But the reality is that a proud 148-year-old tradition of replays in the FA Cup is finally coming to an end.

Here are seven of the best to show us what we might be missing.

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JANUARY 25: Gary Doherty of Spurs scores the equalising goal during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at The City of Manchester Stadium on January 25, 2004 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Tottenham 3-4 Manchester City, 2004

It may seem strange to think now, but back in 2004 Manchester City and Tottenham were two clubs famed for their ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Well maybe that hasn’t changed so much for Spurs…

The North London side appeared to be cruising when they took a 3-0 lead into the break of this fourth round replay. Things then got even better for Spurs as City’s Joey Barton was unsurprisingly sent off for fighting on his way down the tunnel at half time.

Amazingly though, Kevin Keegan’s side staged a remarkable comeback to make it 3-3, before an injury time header from John Macken completed an astonishing turnaround at White Hart Lane.

1981 FA Cup Final Replay Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – MAY 14: Referee Keith Hackett reacts as Ricky Villa (c) of Spurs turns to celebrate after scoring the opening goal of the 1981 FA Cup Final Replay Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on May 14, 1981 in London, England. (Photo by Allsport/Getty Images)

Tottenham 3-2 Manchester City, 1981

Another famous replay between these two sides came in the 1981 FA Cup final. After a dreary 1-1 draw in the first game both teams threw caution to the wind in an absolute classic.

Ricky Villa – who had been substituted in the original match – put Spurs in front before Steve Mackenzie volleyed home a glorious equaliser. City would then take the lead through Kevin Reeves only to have that cancelled out by Garth Crooks.

Then as the game appeared to be heading towards another stalemate, Villa danced his way through a series of City defenders to net the winner and one of the greatest goals in FA Cup history.

Leyton Orient 8-2 Droylsden, 2010

With four red cards, two hat-tricks and ten goals, this one definitely takes the award for most bonkers FA Cup replay ever.

Conference North side Droylsden had given themselves a good chance of reaching the third round proper for the first time in their history when they took a two goal lead over League One Leyton Orient. The O’s then had Terrell Forbes sent off, and with the score still 2-0 after 77 minutes a major upset looked on the cards.

Despite then being reduced to nine men, Orient still managed to pull it back to 2-2, with Droyslden’s Nathaniel Kerr and Les Roche also seeing red. The East Londoners then proceeded to run riot in extra time scoring six to run out 8-2 winners.


Hereford 2-1 Newcastle, 1972

The archetypal FA Cup upset saw non-league Hereford defeat top tier Newcastle 2-1 in the game that launched John Motson’s career.

After a shock 2-2 draw at St James’ Park, the scene was set for one of the most famous FA Cup replays.

On a shocking pitch Newcastle appeared to have won it thanks to a header from Malcolm Macdonald, but a 35-yard rocket from Ronnie Radford took the game into extra time.

Substitute Ricky George than sealed the victory for Hereford in a game that many view as the greatest giant killing in the cup’s long history.

Barnsley 3-2 Manchester United, 1998

Although Barnsley and Manchester United were both Premier League sides back in 1998, this remains a massive FA Cup upset.

The Tykes had been hard done by not to win the original fixture at Old Trafford, having not been awarded a penalty so obvious that it was the subject of a question in the House of Commons.

Barnsley got their justice in the end though as centre back Scott Jones – who was only playing because of injuries to four other players – headed two goals past Peter Schmeichel to send the Yorkshire side on their way to a famous victory.

Tranmere v Soton
20 Feb 2001: Dean Richards of Southampton scores during the AXA FA Cup fifth round replay match between Tranmere Rovers and Southampton at Prenton Park, Tranmere. Mandatory Credit: Michael Steele/ALLSPORT

Tranmere 4-3 Southampton, 2001

Division One Tranmere had gained a name for themselves as cup specialists after reaching the League Cup final just the season before, but it was hardly surprising when Premier League Southampton opened up a 3-0 lead over them by half time.

Presumably John Aldridge harnessed something resembling his profanity-laden rant on the touchline for Ireland at USA ’94 as he masterminded a remarkable turnaround.

A hattrick from 36-year-old Paul Rideout had brought Rovers level before former Everton man Stuart Barlow popped up with a later winner to secure a quarter final against neighbours Liverpool.

Manchester United v Arsenal
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – APRIL 4: Ryan Giggs celebrates scoring a magnificent winning goal for United as they defeat Arsenal 2-1 in extra time during the 1999 FA Cup Semifinal Replay on April 14th, 1999 at Villa Park. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United, 1999

Arguably the greatest of all FA Cup replays saw the two best sides in the country go head-to-head in the ’99 semi. Arsenal were in the hunt for a second consecutive double while Manchester United were on the way to the treble.

Things were looking ominous for Alex Ferguson’s men when Roy Keane was sent off before Phil Neville gave away a late penalty.

Denis Bergkamp missed the spot kick though, as Ryan Giggs went on to score one of the greatest goals in FA Cup history to win it in extra time.

The FA decided to scrap replays at the semi final stage after that. Presumably they had realised this one could never be beaten.

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