London – Minor league sides Lincoln City and Sutton United produced a welcome shot in the arm for F.A. Cup romantics with surprise wins over two former holders in third-round replays on Tuesday.
Lincoln’s snug Sincil Bank stadium was heaving for the arrival of 1978 winner Ipswich Town, and the National League (fifth-tier) leader rewarded a vociferous home support with a deserved 1-0 victory secured in stoppage time by Nathan Arnold.
Sutton, which famously put out then top-flight Coventry City in 1989, recovered to beat 10-man AFC Wimbledon 3-1 away.
Tom Elliott gave 1988 winner Wimbledon, back up to League One (third tier) after the club reformed in the wake of being swallowed up by MK Dons, an early lead.
But Paul Robinson’s sending off meant the hosts had to play with 10 men for 75 minutes and they finally caved in as goals from Roarie Deacon, Maxime Biamou and Dean Fitchett earned Sutton a plum home tie with Leeds United.
Lincoln will host Brighton & Hove Albion in round four — its first journey to that stage since former England manager Graham Taylor, whose sudden death last week was marked by a moving pre-match tribute, took it there in 1976.
Arnold showed tremendous composure to round Ipswich’s Dean Gerken, who had been the far busier of the two goalkeepers, and slot home to spark joyous scenes amongst the fans who had performed a minute’s applause for Taylor before kickoff.
“The way they’ve worked day in day out is incredible. You can have great days like this if you put so much work in like we have done,” Lincoln’s young manager Danny Cowley, assisted by his brother Nicky, said after the win over second-tier Ipswich.
“It’s a great night and an amazing feeling for the club.”
Arnold paid tribute to Lincoln’s manager who is on track to guide the club back to the Football League.
“It’s not coincidence that there’s been success here since the Cowleys came to the club, they breathe football,” he said.
Sam Allardyce finally enjoyed a win as Crystal Palace manager — at the sixth attempt — after Christian Benteke came off the bench to score a late double against Allardyce’s old club Bolton Wanderers, who have fallen to the third tier.
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