Leroy Lita’s hat-trick inspired Championship leaders Reading to come from 2-0 behind and knock Premiership side West Brom out of the FA Cup 3-2 after extra time in a thrilling third-round replay at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday.
In the day’s other third-round replays, non-league Tamworth came close to knocking out Championship side Stoke City before losing 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out.
Penalties were also required at Elland Road, where Wigan won a shoot-out 4-2, having three times surrendered the lead against Leeds in a match that ended 3-3 after extra time.
Birmingham overcame spirited League Two side Torquay, from near the bottom of English football’s fourth division, 2-0. Middlesbrough, thrashed 7-0 by Arsenal last weekend, beat non-league side Nuneaton 5-2.
Cheltenham booked themselves a home tie against Premiership giants Newcastle after Kayode Odejayi’s goal secured a 1-0 win over League Two rivals Chester, while Walsall beat Barnsley 2-0.
Reading, on the verge of promotion to the Premiership, will be at home to Birmingham in the fourth round, while Middlesbrough’s reward is an away trip to Championship outfit Coventry.
Stoke play Walsall, while Wigan face Premiership rivals Manchester City.
Nathan Jackson gave Conference outfit Tamworth a shock lead in their match against Stoke, who play in the second-tier Championship of English professional football.
After an initial goalless meeting between these two sides, Jackson broke the stalemate in the 42nd minute at Tamworth’s Lamb ground when he touched home a Carl Heggs cross.
But Stoke striker Paul Gallagher, who had previously missed several chances, made it 1-1 with 10 minutes remaining.
The shoot-out was all square until Stoke keeper Steve Simonsen saved from Eddie Anaclet with the score at 3-3.
Immediately afterwards, Tamworth goalkeeper Scott Beavan blocked Kevin Harper’s spot kick. Simonsen saved again from Michael Touhy before Carl Hoefkens ended the match with Wigan’s first sudden-death penalty.
After a nervy start at the Riverside, Chris Riggott opened the scoring in the 34th minute and Middlesbrough were 2-0 up before the break thanks to a Yakubu penalty.
Stuart Parnaby added a third in the 50th minute, and eight minutes later Yakubu had a second.
Australia striker Mark Viduka made it 5-0 in the 63rd minute, but Gez Murphy grabbed a deserved 71st-minute consolation for Nuneaton before scoring again from the penalty spot—his third goal of the tie—four minutes from time.
Murphy had previously scored a penalty in the initial 1-1 draw between the two teams.
“That was never going to be an easy game, especially after Arsenal, ” Boro boss Steve McClaren told Sky Sports. “We did a job, it was no-win game for us. Now we move on, it was a small step in the right direction.”
Wigan, flying high in the top-flight, were involved in a see-saw match against fallen giants Leeds.
Andreas Johansson put Wigan ahead in the 24th minute before Leeds striker David Healy equalised four minutes before the break.
Jason Roberts restored Wigan’s lead early in the second half before Healy, from the penalty spot, levelled again.
In extra time, though, Roberts headed in his second to restore Wigan’s lead, only for Leeds defender Gary Kelly’s first goal in three years to make it all square again in the 116th minute.
But in the shoot-out, Leeds’s Healy and Hulse both missed before Graham Kavanagh saw Wigan into the fourth round for the first time in 19 years.
“The last time we were in the fourth round I played,” joked Wigan manager Paul Jewell.
Meanwhile, Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell said: “Maybe it [the defeat] is a blessing in disguise. We have big fish to fry this year—let’s go for it.”
Two goals from Richard Chaplow put West Brom 2-0 up inside 32 minutes against Reading.
But Reading, unbeaten at their own ground since the opening day of the season, pulled a goal back through Lita in the 50th minute.
Fifteen minutes later, Lita levelled the match with a superb long-range shot before completing Reading’s revival in the 93rd minute.
Birmingham, second from bottom in the Premiership, struggled to see off the challenge of League Two side Torquay and it was not until the 61st minute that Jiri Jarosik put them ahead.
Finnish striker Mikael Forssell made the game safe for Birmingham nine minutes before full-time.
“We’ve been here and done it, but it’s never easy when you don’t take your chances,” said Birmingham manager Steve Bruce.
All fourth-round matches are due to take place on the weekend of January 28 and 29.—Sapa-AFP