Saturday 18 November 2017

Lincoln heroics breathe new life into FA Cup

Lincoln hero Sean Raggett celebrates. Photo: Reuters
Lincoln hero Sean Raggett celebrates. Photo: Reuters

Phil Medlicott

Lincoln boss Danny Cowley savoured an "incredible feeling" after the National League outfit pulled off a shock 1-0 FA Cup win at top-flight Burnley.

Sean Raggett's late winner ensured Cowley's men became the first non-league club to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals since 1914.

Raggett climbed at the far post from an 89th-minute corner to power in a header which Clarets goalkeeper Tom Heaton could only push away once it had crossed the line.

"It was an incredible feeling really to win the game like we did," said Cowley. "We thought it was going to be a one in a hundred chance and we wanted to break the game down into small parts, six 15-minute periods. We grew in confidence I thought and to score with a set-piece, which we work really hard on, was pretty apt.

"It just shows, if you're willing to work hard, what you can achieve. Our supporters are Premier League. They deserve this moment. I'm so pleased for them.

"And our players I thought were outstanding - they played for each other, for their families, and are rightly feeling proud as punch, because they deserve all the back-slapping they are no doubt going to get."

Lincoln are into the last eight of the FA Cup for the first time in their history. Their remarkable run in the competition this season had already seen them beat Championship sides Ipswich and Brighton prior to taking on Premier League opposition in Burnley.

And when asked what he felt Lincoln had done for the FA Cup this term, Cowley replied: "I think maybe we've brought some of the magic back. It is a brilliant cup competition. Whoever says the FA Cup is dead hasn't lived in Lincoln for the last six to eight weeks. And it has galvanised our football club."

Regarding the last-eight draw, Cowley added: "We want a home draw or to go to a big ground, where all of our fans could come. Because it was so frustrating - we could only have 3,000 here and we could have brought 15,000."

And in yet another day of cup shocks, 10-man Millwall booked their place in the next round after Shaun Cummings' last-minute strike condemned Leicester to another miserable defeat.

The League One side had to play the majority of the second half without Jake Cooper after he was sent off in the 51st minute for a second bookable offence.

But the deficit only inspired Millwall to a famous victory with Cummings finding the net in the 90th minute to heap more pressure on Claudio Ranieri and his beleaguered team.

Leicester, one point above the Premier League relegation zone and now out of the FA Cup, are without a victory from their last eight matches.

"I want to speak again with the players and say we have to fight every match," said an animated Rainieri. "'Who wants to fight? Tell me'. I need the soldiers, I need the gladiators, because Millwall, with 10 players, showed they are fantastic gladiators."

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