Talking Football - Lower-ranked clubs keeping cup dreams alive

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The magic of the FA Cup should stay around – although that might depends on who you support.

Yet again there were negative comments over the third-round weekend which, mainly due to the luck of the draw, didn’t really produce enough talking points.

The Manchester derby saw the holders go out but the majority of top-flight teams made progress as you would expect.

Was it a giant-killing or a surprise when Wigan Athletic’s reserves lost to Swindon Town? For most of us, that’s not going to be remembered for a long time.

This competition is no longer a priority for the big boys who would prefer to reap the financial rewards of reaching the UEFA Champions League.

For the supporters, though, it’s all about dreaming about a day out at Wembley Stadium.

Fans of lower-level teams want a trip to Old Trafford and chairmen know one cup tie could keep their club alive for a long time.

So the magic is always going to be there from the qualifying stages in August right through to May’s showpiece occasion.

This season I’ve been to three matches which only produced a total of two goals.

However, each time it was the lower-ranked team which went through – including one in a replay following a 0-0 draw.

It wasn’t a big shock when West Ham United were knocked out by Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday afternoon.

Around 4,000 away fans, including myself, were left disappointed and frustrated when Chris O’Grady fired the late winner.

It was my 11th trip to Hillsborough as a Hammers supporter but the first since 1995 and it ended in a seventh defeat.

Seven changes to the staring line-up were understandable and there’s no doubt that the focus remains on promotion.

A draw probably would have been a fair result but O’Grady got the goal, officially timed as the 88th minute despite stoppage-time of 11 minutes to follow due to a head injury.

Having netted in Yorkshire derby draws against Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town as well as the cup win at Morecambe, it seems O’Grady is making himself popular with Wednesday supporters.

Four goals in 25 appearances for Rushden & Diamonds at the start of the 2005-06 campaign led to a rise through the ranks via Rotherham United and Rochdale.