As it’s FA Cup Quarter Final weekend, Mark Young decided to have a look at one of the most memorable matches from this round in his football watching history. It just so happens that the magic from this game came from a certain side that are currently casting new spells at the summit of English football.
At time of writing, March 2016, Leicester City are top of the Premier League by five points, and getting ready for a clash with Newcastle on Monday night. 15 years ago, they took part in a classic FA Cup Quarter Final.
The Foxes played host to Wycombe Wanderers, managed by former Wimbledon player and FA Cup hero Lawrie Sanchez. In a month where S Club 7, Geri Halliwell, and Destiny’s Child were battling at the top of the charts, it would be the Second Division side Wycombe that would battle at Leicester.
The FA Cup has come in for criticism in recent years for its lack of magic, but what was to follow in that match, exactly 15 years to this day, would be stuff of dreams, and would defy all sporting logic.
Sanchez had to put together a squad of players that had hardly played with each other to come up against established Premier League players such as Muzzy Izzet and Robbie Savage, who lined up in the middle of the park at Filbert Street. Savage would have the Foxes’ opening chance with a header, but the much maligned midfielder was the wrong man in the right place.
The first sniff of a shock didn’t come until the second half, when Paul McCarthy gave the away fans something to shout about with a header.
Muzzy Izzet would go on to equalise, and it looked like the Foxes would go on to hunt down the winner, but the magic of the FA Cup decided to continue displaying its magnificent power.
At 1-1, Wycombe were denied a penalty; Sanchez was apoplectic on the side lines, and was quickly sent off.
With four minutes added on, Roy Essandoh would make FA Cup folklore by heading in a shock winner. Cue scenes of Lawrie Sanchez going a different kind of crazy, watching in the tunnel. The Belfast born 25-year-old had only signed a two-week contract after the injury-hit Wanderers were forced into making emergency signings. And yet, the former Vaasan Palloseura player made history, and knocked Wycombe’s Premier League counterparts out of the cup.
Essandoh had signed after the club had contacted BBC Ceefax to publicise their lack of players. Ceefax is something that younger readers probably don’t know about – ask your parents.
A truly magnificent example of FA Cup magic, and one that I can look back on with amazement and remember exactly where I was watching.
If there is anything like that kind of drama this weekend, we’re in for a treat, but Leicester City, without a cup tie this week, will not want their fairy tale story to end before the final hurdle this season. As for Wycombe’s magical story that year, Liverpool took on the role of the bad guys and knocked them out just a round later.