By Chloe Horswill
The FA Cup is known for its epic upsets, but this season the non-league teams have been running riot and causing chaos amongst the top tier teams.
Lincoln City, now the sole representatives of the non-leaguers, have made history as the first non-league side to make the quarter-finals since 1914, but they now face another tough test when they play Arsenal at the Emirates.
Lincoln aren’t the first non-league side that Arsenal has faced in the tournament this season as the Gunner travelled to Sutton United in the last round where they won 2-0, but it wasn’t an easy game for them as Sutton continued to try and fight their way back.
Lincoln have been a formidable force so far after knocking out Ipswich Town, Brighton & Hove Albion and finally Burnley with a late winner that kept their fairytale going.
Danny Cowley, the Lincoln City manager, told the Telegraph: “We said it was a one in a 100 chance and thankfully we got that opportunity. The last eight of the FA Cup sounds pretty good.
“We work hard on our corner and our free-kicks and we are mightily proud of the players.”
Yorkshire had their own representative in the tournament until the second-round proper through FC Halifax Town, whose run ended with a 2-0 home loss to Eastleigh in a replay after they drew the original tie 3-3.
David Bosomworth, the chairman of Halifax Town, is proud of how the team performed until they were knocked out.
He told Yorkshire Voice: “Round one was against Dagenham and Redbridge who were in the football league last season, so it was a really good achievement to get a draw down there and bring them back to The Shay for a replay.
“We could, and should, have won the game [against Eastleigh] in the first-leg, and sometimes you don’t always get a second chance and they beat us 2-0 in the replay, but it would have been lovely to have got through to the third round where we’d have drawn Brentford.”
Lincoln and Sutton aren’t the only non-league sides that have had success in the tournament this season. Up until the third round, Stourbridge from the seventh division were the lowest ranking team in the competition until they were knocked out by Wycombe Wanderers.
The top scorers in the competition are far from what is expected as well. Adam Morgan scored six goals in Curzon Ashton’s run, but his three goals against AFC Wimbledon just weren’t enough to keep their FA Cup dream alive.
Morgan recently signed for Halifax in the January transfer window, and Bosomworth is pleased with the new addition to the side: “All of the goals that he scored against AFC Wimbledon were excellent. Sadly, he scored against us in a league game but that’s what attracted us to him when we saw him in that game.”
There are five non-league players in the top scorers’ list (Mikael Mandron and Theo Robinson with five and James Armson and Roarie Deacon with four), all above the only two Premier League players present on it.
Footballing fans across the country have all been showing their support for Lincoln as they continue forward in the competition and Bosomworth has shown his support as well: “It has been excellent for the non-league clubs this year because Lincoln City and Sutton United obviously have done outstandingly well.”
“For everyone else [outside of the Premier League] involved in the FA Cup, it’s such a wonderful competition and one that needs to be cherished as it goes forward as it’s a unique competition, probably throughout the world.”
Lincoln City will face Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday, March 11.