FA Cup Second Round Memories - Part One



The first FA Cup second round tie that I can remember going to was against Swindon back in 2004 at the County Ground, a match that had late drama and plenty of entertainment. It was a cold, blustery December afternoon in Wiltshire, with Notts travelling to face a Swindon side who were hovering around the fringes of the League One play-offs. Notts, meanwhile, were struggling to adapt having been relegated from that level the previous season - Gary Mills had not long been sacked, with Ian Richardson in caretaker charge. Notts started slowly and fell behind when Sean O'Hanlon powerfully headed home a corner from Swindon's talented and silky midfielder Sammy Igoe. After the break, though, Notts began to take charge and missed a host of chances to level the tie, with Matty Williams being particularly guilty. As the match ticked into injury time, though, the ball fell to mercurial midfielder Stefan Oakes on the edge of the area, and he blasted a powerful low shot that flew into the bottom corner to spark bedlam amongst the travelling fans and on the Notts bench. With the subsequent replay broadcast live on Sky TV, Notts progressed with a 2-0 victory thanks to a Gavin Gordon brace, before bravely bowing out to Middlesbrough in the third round. 


In stark contrast to the jubilant scenes following Oakes' equaliser at Swindon, just three years later came one of Notts' most humiliating FA Cup defeats of all-time as Ian MacParland's side were dumped out by Conference South part timers Havant and Waterlooville at Meadow Lane. Having easily disposed of Histon, from a division higher, in the previous round, Notts were expected to progress comfortably against Shaun Gale's side, but the Hampshire club frustrated Notts throughout. Then, just three minutes from time, a long, hopeful punt forward caught the Notts defence flat-footed, with an attempt at defending from Lee Canoville and Adam Tann that had Alan Hansen utterly aghast on Match of the Day that night. Eventually the ball deflected in off winger Tony Taggart following an attempted Canoville challenge, sending the Hawks into delirium. Notts did have a chance to save their blushes in injury time, but Lawrie Dudfield headed over the bar from two yards out as the Magpies were embarrassed and out of the cup. It wasn't the end of Havant's run, though, as they went to stun Swansea City after a replay in the third round before eventually losing 5-2 at Anfield despite twice taking the lead.


This replay at Rockingham Road against the now-all-but-deceased Kettering Town will live long in the memory, both for the sub-zero conditions and a second cup humiliation in successive seasons for Ian MacParland and his side. The match had gone to a replay after a 1-1 draw at Meadow Lane, with Sean Canham cancelling out Brett Solkhon's opener, with the winners awaiting a tie against Eastwood Town in the third round. Things began well for Notts in Northamptonshire, with Jay Smith blasting home an unstoppable shot from twenty five yards during a first half that Notts completely controlled. After the break, though, the Setanta Sports cameras got the action that they were looking for, with goals from Solkhon and Gareth Seddon in the space of two minutes sending the Poppies fans onto the pitch and the club into the third round. They would dispose of Eastwood, before going on to be beaten by Fulham in round four. Things haven't been so rosy since, though, with chairman Imraan Ladak - noteable for walking round the Meadow Lane pitch to take the adulation of the visiting fans during the first match - being accused of running the club into the ground and moving them into the home of former local rivals Rushden and Diamonds.