Five standout performers from this year’s FA Cup third round
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | January 11, 2016
The romance of the FA Cup is alive and well, with the third round providing its annual share of shocks, giant-killings and deserved replays.
Some Premier League sides have paid the price for not taking the world’s oldest knockout football competition seriously, and now face an extra game or worse still the chastening embarrassment of being eliminated by lesser opposition.
With that in mind, Coral celebrate five standout performers from one of the most absorbing weekends in the English sporting calendar.
A 10th goal of the season in all competitions for Exeter City academy graduate and frontman Nichols started Paul Tisdale’s team off on their way to earning a 2-2 draw with Liverpool and a lucrative replay at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp opted to field a number of Reds youngsters, because of the already congested fixture programme awaiting the Merseyside men in January. Playing Jose Enrique, who looked very rusty indeed, at centre half was a clear mistake as Nichols nipped in ahead of him to score the Exeter opener.
An honourable mention must go out to Lee Holmes, after he scored direct from a corner to profit from another Adam Bogdan set-piece clanger.
Midfielder Moncur made just a couple of appearances for West Ham, but at 22 is showing his qualities with League One strugglers Colchester United.
A bright light in what has been a dismal campaign for the Essex outfit so far this season, his goal against Championship club Charlton Athletic was also his 10th of the campaign.
Moncur also assisted what proved to be the winning goal of this tie for Marvin Sordell – another player who is rebuilding his career further down the league pyramid.
Northampton Town winger Holmes followed up a goal against former club Barnet in League Two during the New Year programme with a second-half brace against MK Dons, which earned them a replay in Milton Keynes.
Chris Wilder’s side are flying high in League Two in the automatic promotion places, and used that confidence to great effect against Karl Robinson’s struggling Dons, who are two divisions higher.
Speaking of in-form fourth tier teams, Oxford United pulled off the major giant-killing with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Premier League side Swansea City, and attacking midfielder Roofe was central to that result.
Two terrific second-half strikes from the former West Bromwich Albion youngster were clear evidence he could play at a higher level. He’s now Michael Appleton’s joint top scorer alongside Liam Sercombe, who converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
You can’t help but wonder whether Baggies boss Tony Pulis was too hasty in offloading Roofe, as he was more than a match coming in off the left flank for the Swans.
On just his second Leicester City appearance, left back Chilwell contributed towards a terrific 2-2 draw at Tottenham, linking well with Foxes debutant Demarai Gray down that side of the pitch.
Although summer signing Christian Fuchs has done fantastically well for Claudio Ranieri, it’s teenage talent Chilwell who looks like being the long-term future for Leicester in this position.