FA Cup Fourth Round Preview: Will There Be Any Shocks?

First of all, an apology. I completely forgot about Tuesday until the games had started.

The most significant result of the evening was Burton winning at Peterborough. The Brewers are now three points clear at the top with a game in hand, although Gillingham could overtake them on goal difference tomorrow if the Gills beat Blackpool and Burton lose at Rochdale. At the  bottom, Oldham won for the first time since mid November – although they still haven’t won at Boundary Park in League One since August.

With five League 1 clubs left in the FA Cup there are some cracking ties on offer this weekend, but to be brutally honest I’ll be surprised if more than one is in the draw for the Fifth Round and some of these games look horribly one sided. You never know though…all games are tomorrow at 3pm unless otherwise stated.

Colchester v Spurs (12:45pm, BT Sport 1)

Colchester United haven’t reached the Fifth Round for 10 years, but I think it’s fair to say that the 2005/06 team that beat Derby at this stage was better than the current side – United were promoted to the Championship that season. It’s the first time these clubs have met in any competition at senior level, but The Us haven’t won at home since mid-October…which is about the same time Spurs last lost an away game. This could get out of hand very early on: I wouldn’t expect the type of heroics that happened at Layer Road 45 years ago, when Colchester beat Leeds…

Colchester player to watch: George Moncur. Goalscoring midfielder who began his career at West Ham before moving to Colchester permanently in November 2014. Opened the scoring in the last round against Charlton.

Bury v Hull

The Shakers haven’t reached the Fifth Round for 30 years when First Division Watford needed a replay to beat them. This is the first meeting between Bury and Hull in the competition since January 1914 – Bury won after a replay – but the pair haven’t met at all at Gigg Lane since October 2003. The hosts have only won half of their last six home games and only snapped a seven game away losing streak last weekend; on paper Hull shouldn’t have too much trouble, but would Steve Bruce prefer promotion to a cup run?

Bury player to watch: Leon Clarke. Has regained some of the form that made him a target for Championship clubs a couple of seasons ago and is on target to break his own single season goalscoring record.

Reading v Walsall

This is the potential shock of the round. I’ve covered the Reading angle over at Buzzin’ Championship Football, but suffice to say that there’s a dozen league places between them and this could very well be a game in the Championship next season. The Saddlers’ win at Brentford in the last round was their first in an away cup tie since their win at Stourbridge in November 2009 but with one away defeat in League One all season they should be able to give Reading a decent game. Last Walsall win at Reading came in October 2003, which was ten months after the Saddlers had knocked Reading out of the 2002/03 FA Cup.

Walsall player to watch: Tom Bradshaw. Has scored 28 goals in the last two seasons since moving from Shrewsbury and has been linked with several Championship clubs during the transfer window. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

Shrewsbury v Sheffield Wednesday

Definitely an unexpected bonus for Shrews fans, who have endured a painful return to League One this season with only three home wins in the competition since August, the last coming in October. History (combined with a large dose of optimism) suggests that this might be a draw: both the last meeting in the FA Cup in Shropshire in February 1963 and the most recent game between the two sides (League Cup, September 1987) finished 1-1 and it’s fair to say that despite being in the Championship playoff places, Wednesday’s recent away form is far from convincing – they also haven’t won at Shrewsbury since April 1982.

Shrewsbury player to watch: Larnell Cole. Manchester born midfielder currently on loan from Fulham who has experience with the England under 19 and under 20 team. Currently has four assists and two goals this season and probably ought to be playing at a higher standard than he currently is. A quick search on twitter will show the reasons why.

WBA v Peterborough

It’s been exactly 30 years since Peterborough reached the Fifth Round of the FA Cup and it’s easy to see why. They’ve only won two of their seven away FA Cup ties since the last time they played at the Hawthorns in the competition (a 1-1 draw in January 2009) and Posh haven’t gone further than the Third Round in nine of the last ten seasons. The recent defeats by Burton, Gillingham and Walsall in League One have also hinted that the automatic promotion will probably be beyond them this season, but I’d still expect them to give the Baggies a decent game. WBA have only lost once in their last half a dozen Premier League games and could be on course for their best performance in the Cup for the best part of a decade.

Peterborough player to watch: Erhan Oztumer. Following the departure of Conor Washington to QPR, the diminutive midfielder is Peterborough’s second most prolific goalscorer this season as well as providing five assists. WBA could find him a real handful.

There’s also one league game of note: Millwall v Crewe. The Lions are now in the playoff places after three consecutive wins whilst Crewe moved off the bottom of the table following a draw at Bury on Tuesday night. Millwall probably aren’t as good as the best teams in League One but have only lost twice at home to teams in the bottom half of the table whilst The Alex have failed to win any of their eight away games against the current top half dozen clubs.

I’ll update this post over the weekend, so stay tuned.

Update: Shrewsbury provided one of the shocks of the season with a 3-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday that featured a winner SEVEN MINUTES into injury time from Jack Grimmer. Peterborough earned a replay with WBA after Jon Taylor equalised with six minutes left, but everyone else was eliminated.

Author: Mike Roberts

A football fan since the 1970s, I take my inspiration from the standard of writing that made Shoot! magazine streets ahead of anything else back in the day. I'm also a complete and utter stathead, which I blame on being exposed to American sports at the end of my teens.