We have just finished League Cup 3rd round week, as Premier League teams fielded weakened sides in the hope that their complacency wasn’t exploited by lower league opposition.
For the most part the status-quo was maintained, including a long-awaited South Coast Derby where Southampton emerged unscathed, coming out as rather fortuitous 4-0 victors.
However there were upsets to be had as West Ham and Sheffield United were dumped out of the cup by League One opposition, Oxford and Sunderland respectively. Tottenham fell foul to an even bigger indignity of losing to a League Two side, Colchester United on penalties even with Son, Erickson and Moura on the field at the end of the game.
Colchester ‘keeper Dean Gerkin kept a clean sheet and saved a spot kick from Christian Erickson in the penalty shootout. To pay homage to his heroics, we revisit the some of the dazzling displays from League Cup through it’s many guises.
Darryl Flahavan – SOUTHEND UNITED V Manchester United- Carling Cup 4th Round 2006
The most famous night in Southend United’s recent history is a well-documented 1-0 triumph over holders Manchester United, for which their talisman Freddie Eastwood is synonymous with. Darryl Flahavan is the man who kept a strong Red Devils’ attack at bay, a night that will sure grace the ears of his future grandchildren on a regular basis. Rooney and Ronaldo were included and both went close after bamboozling the Southend defence before Flahavan denied them. A Ronaldo thunderbolt from 30 yards, which has beaten many a world-class goalkeeper, was magnificently tipped over the crossbar. John O’Shea came even closer as his wayward cross made its way towards the top corner before Flahavan scurried across his goal to divert it over the crossbar. The former Southampton stopper’s untainted goalmouth set the scene for Freddie Eastwood to score the only goal of the tie in front of a rapturous Root’s Hall and send the Shrimpers into the Quarter Final.
Gordon Banks – West Ham United v STOKE CITY – League Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg 1971
A League Cup compilation would not be complete without talking about the legendary Gordon Banks leading his Stoke City side to their only major honour. Before any sponsor name was attributed to the competition, Stoke travelled to Upton Park trailing after a 2-1 reverse in the first leg at the Victoria Ground. Stoke took a 1-0 lead but with Harry Redknapp closing in on goal, Gordon Banks wiped out the future reality TV star to gift West Ham a penalty in the dying moments of extra time. With Wembley in the Hammer’s grasp, Geoff Hurst stepped up against his World Cup winning teammate but saw his spot-kick magnificently saved. As penalty shoot-outs did not exist at the time, the teams were forced to replay the match at a neutral venue which produced a 0-0 stalemate before the second replay produced more goalkeeping drama, as an injury to West Ham’s Bobby Ferguson meant that Bobby Moore had to take the green jersey for 19 minutes. Stoke ran out 2-1 winners and eventually lifted the trophy, but Banks’ penalty save is perceived by many as a turning point in the tie.
Ben Foster – BIRMINGHAM CITY v Arsenal – Carling Cup Final 2011
Arsenal ‘keeper Wojciech Szczesny made the majority of headlines in Birmingham’s dramatic 2-1 victory in the 2011 final, after a breakdown in communication with Lauren Koscielny handed Obefemi Martins a chance he could not refuse and tapped in a late winner to hand the Blues their first major honour since 1963. As a result , Bimingham’s Ben Foster and his match winning performance are often overlooked when this one is pulled from the archives. The England international saved brilliantly from Andrei Arsharvin and Samir Nasri before a magnificent double save from a thunderbolt Nasri effort and Nicholas Bendtner’s rebound. Just prior to Birmingham’s late winner, Foster again made a diving save from a swerving Samir Nasri effort as a fascinating duel, ultimately won by Foster, spilled into the dying moments of the game. It was a true tale of hero and villain in regards to the goalkeeping contest, as in the 89thminute, the future Juventus ‘keeper would inexplicably land the ball at Obafemi Martin’s feet to hand Birmingham the trophy. This would not have been possible without a truly sterling display from the Premier League custodian.