Magic of FA Cup returns with Lincoln's feat

LONDON • Lincoln City have brought the magic back to the FA Cup, claimed manager Danny Cowley, after becoming the first non-league team to reach the quarter-finals in 103 years with a 1-0 victory at Premier League side Burnley on Saturday.

The National League leaders' remarkable story in the cup continued at Turf Moor, where Sean Raggett's 89th-minute header produced one of the greatest upsets in the competition's history.

Fifth-level Lincoln, relegated from the Football League six years ago, have beaten Championship sides Brighton and Ipswich before adding Burnley to their list of high-profile scalps.

They are now just one win from a semi-final appearance at Wembley, having become the first non-league team since Queens Park Rangers in 1914 to reach the last eight, earning over £1 million (S$1.76 million) from this season's tournament in the process.

Cowley reacted: "Maybe we have brought some of the magic back. This is a brilliant cup competition and anyone who says the FA Cup is dead hasn't lived in Lincoln for the past six to eight weeks.

"It is life-changing for us. It is a game-changer for the football club in terms of finance and the profile it has given our players. Our players deserve that.

"When you are a non-league footballer, and a lot of ours have been part-time, you have to really fight. It can be tough and for them to have this moment in the limelight is thoroughly deserved."

Burnley manager Sean Dyche, who as a player featured in third-tier Chesterfield's surprise run to the FA Cup semi-finals in 1997, was aware of the scale of Lincoln's achievement.

"We've unfortunately played a part in Lincoln's fairy tale and obviously we didn't want to do that," he said.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2017, with the headline 'Magic of FA Cup returns with Lincoln's feat'. Print Edition | Subscribe