English football miracle


Lincoln became the first non-league side in 103 years to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals with a dramatic last-minute win over Premier League side Burnley.

Lincoln, along with fellow National League team Sutton United, had ensured this was the first time since 1888 that two non-league sides had reached the fifth round.

The Imps are top of their league but 81 places behind Burnley in the football pyramid, and it was their determination to make another piece of history that saw them become the first non-league team since QPR in 1914 to reach the quarter-finals.

Danny Cowley’s side have won 15 of their past 18 matches in all competitions and have now beaten Oldham, Ipswich and Brighton in this season’s cup run.

This latest victory – assured and composed – means they are the first non-league side since Telford in 1985, and only the third ever, to knock out four league clubs in a single season.

As they celebrate their historic win, there will also be the realisation that they are just one win from a semi-final at Wembley.

Lincoln boss Danny Cowley: “It’s a football miracle for a non-league team to be in the last eight. The boys were excellent, playing against a Premier League team.

“We are always realists, I will never ask the players to do something they’re not capable of. But we thought if we could get the game plan right we could compete.

“Maybe young top-level centre halves are not used to playing against that up top. It was a bit of a throwback.”

Burnley boss Sean Dyche: “I’m only gutted in the sense that could happen, I was on the other side of it [at Chesterfield]. You don’t want to be part of it for the wrong reasons.

“They used everything they needed to use. They played our pitch well, played resolutely with their back four not going anywhere and they got the ball forward.

“My team were nowhere near the level they can show. You have to work, be diligent and believe you will get another chance. I think they only had one chance, credit to them.”

One shot on target, one goal – the stats

  • Lincoln City are the second non-league side to knock out Premier League opposition, after Luton Town (v Norwich City in January 2013).
  • The last non-league side to be in the last eight of the competition were QPR in 1913-14 [round four].
  • Two of the past four occasions of a non-league side winning away against a top-flight team have come against Burnley [also Wimbledon in January 1975].
  • The Imps are only the third non-league team to keep a clean sheet on an away Premier League ground, following Exeter City at Old Trafford against Manchester United in January 2005 and Luton Town at Carrow Road against Norwich City in January 2013.
  • The past two occasions a non-league team have beaten a Premier League team, Andre Gray was involved, for Luton in their win versus Norwich in January 2013 and for Burnley in their defeat against Lincoln in this match.
  • It was Sean Raggett’s second FA Cup goal this season, having also scored against Altrincham in the first round.
  • Raggett’s 89th-minute winning goal for Lincoln was their only shot on target in the game.

What’s next?

Lincoln, who find out who they face in the quarter-finals on Sunday, are away at North Ferriby United in the National League on 21 February. Burnley return to Premier League action on 25 February away at Hull.


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