No Such Thing As A Cupset - featuring Manchester United & Bradford

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The Capital One, The Coca-Cola, The Worthington, Carling…whichever incarnation of England’s secondary cup competition you go by, it thrust itself upon us on the first Tuesday of the footballing calendar with an air of pre-season hangover about it. Before the dust had a chance to settle on the opening round of league fixtures, the battle for silverware started in earnest.

With Premier League teams taking no part in round one, all eyes were on the Football League. Nine Championship sides were knocked out by lower-league opposition in the first round of this year’s competition, while a further six League One clubs were put to the sword by League Two opponents, in total, lower-league sides triumphed in 15 of the 36 first-round ties.

Whether this is a consequence of first-team rotation, a lack of sharpness just four days into the new campaign, or the plucky determination of ‘the underdog’, seeing lower-league sides send loftier teams tumbling out of the League Cup is no rarity.

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With close to half of those fixtures being won by lower-league clubs, are ‘cupsets’ even a surprise anymore? Big performances from League One & Two sides are becoming so common that it is hard to consider such results as an anomaly. Three seasons ago, Phil Parkinson lead League Two Bradford all the way to the final, The Bantams knocked out three Premier League sides en route to Wembley.

Brentford, last year’s Championship high-flyers were dumped out, succumbing to a 4-0 defeat at home to League Two Oxford. Elsewhere Portsmouth secured their place in the second round at the expense of Championship big spenders Derby County, while Luton, & Notts County both matched the feat, knocking out teams placed two divisions above them, beating Bristol City & Huddersfield respectively.

In round two the first wave of Premier League sides make their bow and will know not to expect an easy ride. Last season, six top-flight outfits perished against lower-league opposition at the first hurdle, Manchester United’s 4-0 thrashing at the hands of MK Dons the standout result of the round.

Notts County’s reward is a trip to Villa Park, The Hatters welcome The Potters to Kenilworth Road, while Hartlepool host Premier League new-boys Bournemouth at Victoria Park. A further three League Two sides will pit their wits against top-tier opponents; Exeter, Northampton, and York face Sunderland, Newcastle and Swansea City respectively.

The second round ties are to be played in the week commencing Monday 24th August, don’t be surprised if there are a few more Premier League & Championship casualties this week…

Featured image: All rights reserved by Steve Walker

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