Though they took very different routes, both Torquay United and Kettering Town will represent the Blue Square Premier in the draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup. Torquay beat Championship side Blackpool, some 60 places above them on the pyramid, 1-0 in their third round tie. Kettering's task was simpler. In the only all non-League match they defeated Eastwood Town of the Northern Premier 2-1.
In the run-up, Blackpool lost over half a team as on-loan players returned to their parent clubs leaving the caretaker manager Tony Parkes to pick up the pieces, a task made considerably more difficult in the 32nd minute at Plainmoor when Matt Green cut in from the left and fired in from 20 yards to put the non-Leaguers in the next round.
"I'm very proud today," the Gulls manager, Paul Buckle, said. "I didn't want my players to be afraid, we were backed by a big crowd and thoroughly deserved the win – there was no luck involved, the better team won." Parkes agreed. "1-0 flatters us," he said. "Performances were poor right through the team."
At Rockingham Road Kettering, 10th in the Conference, led Eastwood through goals by Craig Westcarr and Gareth Seddon, his 14th of the season. Paul Robinson's reply set up a nervy end.
Another side punching above their weight, League One leaders Leicester City had a chance to test their readiness for promotion when they entertained the Championship's eighth-placed side Crystal Palace. "I thought we did pretty well," Foxes manager Nigel Pearson said after they earned a replay from a 0-0 draw. "We were never under too much pressure and always looked the likeliest to score."
West Ham United went out in the third round last year when Barnsley of the Championship were embarking on a charge to the semi-finals in which they beat both Liverpool and Chelsea. But the Hammers controlled this match. After 10 minutes Herita Ilunga ghosted in at the far post to tap in Mark Noble's free-kick, his first goal for the club. Six minutes before the interval, Mounir El Haimour felled Noble, who got up to thump in the penalty. After the break Ilunga crossed for Carlton Cole to head his third goal in three games, wrapping up the 3-0 win.
At Hillsborough, Andy Johnson scored twice as Fulham beat Championship Sheffield Wednesday 2-1. After 12 minutes Danny Murphy sent Johnson through on goal for a crisp finish, but nine minutes later Tommy Spurr's long-range effort left the sides level at 1-1. Johnson's second, two minutes from time, denied the Owls a replay. A Kenwyne Jones header and Djibril Cissé's acrobatic finish saw Sunderland reach the fourth round for the first time in four years after a 2-1 win in the all-Premiership tie against Bolton Wanderers. At the Ricoh, the Leons McKenzie and Best scored in the second half as the Championship's Coventry City beat Blue square Premier side Kidderminster Harriers 2-0.
Chesterfield had progressed to this stage only after Droylsden were found to have fielded an ineligible player in the previous round. Ipswich Town ended their interest, Jon Walters, Pablo Couñago and Jon Stead netting in the Suffolk side's 3-0 victory, "a scruffy, scrappy win," manager Jim Magilton admitted. Scunthorpe United, in League One's top six, held out at Championship strugglers Watford until just after the hour when Hornets substitute Grzegorz Rasiak scrambled in the game's only goal.
In the all-Championship ties, last year's losing finalists Cardiff City beat an under-strength Reading 2-0, while at The Valley Charlton Athletic and Norwich City drew 1-1, the home side's goal coming from 16-year-old Jonjo Shelvey, their youngest-ever goalscorer. Also replaying: Queens Park Rangers and Carling Cup semi-finalists Burnley, after a 0-0 stalemate.
The all-League One tie went against form as Millwall, third, were held 2-2 at the New Den by bottom club Crewe.