What a remarkable day last Saturday. I, along with many Sky Blue fans, gave City little chance of beating Premiership Stoke City even with the Potters lack of form. Over ninety enthralling minutes however the team thoroughly deserved a famous victory and a place in the Fourth Round for only the third time in nine years.
Since the club reached the sixth round and faced Chelsea in 2009 the Sky Blues reached the fourth round in 2011 (losing to Birmingham) and 2014 (losing to Arsenal). Let's hope it's third time lucky for the fifth round at Milton Keynes where it will be the first ever FA Cup meeting between the clubs.
Saturday was the club's first victory over a team from a higher division since Steven Pressley's side won at Championship side Barnsley in 2014. It's a welcome relief after being knocked out by teams from lower status in last three seasons. Worcester City, Northampton and Cambridge United have all left egg on City's faces in the last three years.
In the 93 seasons that City have played in the FA Cup since joining the Football League they have now faced 30 clubs from a higher division – obviously in the 34 years between 1967-2001 when the club were in the top flight they couldn't play a team from a higher division. In those 30 meetings they have progressed on seven occasions:
1937 v Charlton Athletic – City, then a Division Two side beat Division One leaders Charlton 2-0 at Highfield Road.
1963 v Portsmouth – Division Three City beat Second Division Pompey in a second replay at White Hart Lane after two draws.
1963 v Sunderland – Sunderland were Division Two leaders when City made it to the Sixth Round triumphing 2-1.
2008 v Blackburn – Ian Dowie's Championship side dumped First Division Blackburn out, winning 4-1 at Ewood Park. (Mark Hughes was Blackburn manager that day).
2009 v Blackburn – Chris Coleman's side repeated the Blackburn result, winning 1-0 in a Ricoh replay after a draw at Ewood.
2014 v Barnsley – Steven Pressley's League One side progressed at the expense of bottom of the Championship side Barnsley, winning 2-1 at Oakwell.
2018 v Stoke City – 53 places (a club record) separated City & the Potters but anyone landing from Mars would have found it hard to identify the Premiership team.
City had a wonderful FA Cup tradition in the early part of the 20th century before they joined the Football League. In 1908 as a Birmingham League side they reached the equivalent of the Third Round and two years later, now in the Southern League, they defeated First Division Preston and Nottingham Forest to reach the quarter-final where they lost to another top flight club Everton in front of a record 19,000 crowd. They caused another upset the following season by winning at First Division Sheffield Wednesday.
Saturday's attendance of 14,199 was City's largest home crowd in the competition since that famous day against Chelsea in 2009 when 31,407 watched the Londoners win 2-0. Since then City had had eleven home games and the biggest crowd in that time until Saturday was the 9,000 who watched the Sky Blues lose 2-1 to Southampton in 2012. It was also the club's biggest gate for almost two years – since 17,140 watched the league defeat to Burton Albion in January 2016.