COLUMN: Kill FA Cup replays? No way, you'd kill moments like this...

Duncan Browne has his say on talk to scrap replays...
Jordan Thewlis heads United level. Photo: Eric BrownJordan Thewlis heads United level. Photo: Eric Brown
Jordan Thewlis heads United level. Photo: Eric Brown

Jordan Thewlis won the ball back in his own half. A combination of power and pace saw him slip his man before driving forward 20 yards.

He guided the ball into the path of Dominic Knowles who, with one clever flick, took his two markers out of the game and created space for Jonathan Wafula.

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One strike later and the United midfielder’s thunderbolt rattled the crossbar.

United celebrate. Photo: Eric BrownUnited celebrate. Photo: Eric Brown
United celebrate. Photo: Eric Brown

Rochdale’s weak clearance was latched upon by Alex Whittle, who stormed into shot, stopping the ball dead and sending in a cross which Wafula met but powered wide of goal.

But at the back post Thewlis, who hasn’t stopped jinking in and around the box looking for the ball, popped up and, unmarked, heads beyond the helpless Robert Sanchez.

York Street goes WILD!

Compared to the individual efforts he netted in the same net against Southport and Bradford Park Avenue, Thewlis’ equaliser against Rochdale in January 16’s FA Cup replay isn’t the best goal he’s scored for Boston United. It is, however, the greatest one he has scored for the club.

More than 4,000 fans watched that goal live.More than 4,000 fans watched that goal live.
More than 4,000 fans watched that goal live.
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That goal was everything the Pilgrims and their fans had prayed for that evening.

The BT Sport cameras were in town, people were tuning in from across the globe, more than £4,000 tickets had been sold.

It was vital United put on a show to prove to the onlookers, and themselves, they were every bit the squad they believed they were.

Yes, they had battled for that goalless draw against League One Dale at Spotland 15 days earlier, but it was vital not to go out with a whimper and, instead, to give York Street one final moment of FA Cup magic.

United versus Dale. Photo: Eric BrownUnited versus Dale. Photo: Eric Brown
United versus Dale. Photo: Eric Brown
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They got that moment, but they wouldn’t have if Gary Lineker gets his way.

“Bit controversial, but I’d get rid of replays in the FA Cup. 90 minutes only, no extra time, penalties if a draw,” he wrote on Twitter last week.

“It’s a thing from a bygone age. Would give smaller teams a greater chance of going through. We’re the only country that has them. Just a thought.”

Lineker, a great player and a great pundit, is more than entitled to his thoughts.

Gary Lineker. Photo: GettyImagesGary Lineker. Photo: GettyImages
Gary Lineker. Photo: GettyImages
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But having seen just what FA Cup replays can mean to a club - not just financially, but in terms of excitement and momentum - I’m going to have to disagree.

Had Boston gone to Spotland and faced a penalty shootout they may indeed have been the ones who faced Newcastle United in round three.

They may have been dumped out in heartbreaking fashion and struggled to gain momentum for the rest of the season.

Instead of having an albatross on the back, they earned that special, exhilarating moment which I bet you’ve watched back more times than you’d like to admit on your phone.

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Boston Town’s magnificent, moneyspinning FA Cup run may have also had a completely different outlook had their goalless draw at Mulbarton Wanderers gone to penalties in early August.

By all means, scrap extra time and replays in any other competition; from the League Cup to the FA Vase, there is never more than a few divisions’ difference between the teams. They have a chance of meeting again.

But the FA Cup is a different beast.

Ask any non-league or lower league player whether they’d rather face a replay at the Emirates or a shootout in front of the Dave’s Kebabs Stand after holding Arsenal to a draw at home.

Besides, Boston collected around £30k in TV dosh alone before cashing in the ticket money from that replay, season changing for a club at this level.

United had their moment, Rochdale earned theirs against Newcastle the following round.

Let’s ensure other teams continue to have their moments thanks to wonderful replays.