Weakened teams and dwindling crowds might be taking the gloss off the FA Cup at some grounds, but not in the third-round ties at Moss Rose and Broadfield Stadium, nor for the travelling supporters of Stevenage Borough, Notts County and Blue Square Premier leaders Wrexham.
At Moss Rose, Macclesfield, 14th in League Two, held Owen Coyle's top-flight strugglers Bolton Wanderers to a 2-2 draw having trailed 1-0, then led 2-1 thanks to goals by Colin Daniel and Arnaud Mendy before David Wheater's header saved Bolton's blushes. "All credit to Macclesfield, they are a decent side and they scored a truly magnificent goal [by Mendy]," Coyle said.
It was a good day for new towns. Darius Charles' 21st minute strike earned League One Stevenage a 1-0 win at Reading, who can now concentrate on their Championship promotion hopes, and at Broadfield Michael Tubbs scored as League Two leaders Crawley beat the Championship's Bristol City 1-0. Crawley manager Steve Evans said he'd like Manchester United in the next round, having given them a scare last season, adding: "with the form we're in I think we'd give a good account of ourselves whoever we meet."
Elsewhere, Jeff Hughes scored twice as Notts County of League One, beat Championship Doncaster Rovers 2-0. Rovers have agreed to sell striker Billy Sharp to Leicester City. Wrexham look ready for a return to the League after Adrian Cieslewicz's equaliser just after the hour earned a replay from the 1-1 draw at Championship Brighton.
The Cup brought no respite to the Premier's bottom club, Blackburn Rovers, who led at Newcastle United only to lose to a late rally, Jonas Gutierrez scoring in the last minute to seal a 2-1 win for Alan Pardew's side.
Birmingham City drew with neighbours Wolves, while two of the clubs promoted to the top flight got reacquainted with the Championship in style. Danny Graham scored twice as Swansea City won 4-2 at Barnsley and Grant Holt scored Norwich City's first but missed a penalty in the Canaries'4-1 defeat of Burnley.
Marvin Emnes' early goal eased Middlesbrough through 1-0 against League Two Shrewsbury Town, but Cardiff City's Cup interest ended as Simon Cox scored twice in West Bromwich Albion's 4-2 win at the Hawthorns. On Tuesday the Bluebirds play Crystal Palace, beaten 1-0 at Derby County, in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg. Goals from academy products James Ward-Prowse and Aaron Martin saw Southampton, top of the Championship, come from behind to beat bottom club Coventry City 2-1, where 200 fans protested outside the ground entering after 15 minutes had been played. They missed Coventry's goal.
Salisbury City of the Blue Square South, some 90 places below hosts Sheffield United, lost 3-1 and Millwall, who have been struggling to score goals in the Championship, found it no easier in knockout competition. Lowly League Two Dagenham & Redbridge held them to a 0-0 draw.
In the Blue Square Premier there was a bumper 2,144 crowd at Barrow to watch what might be the final match in Darlington's history. The Quakers are going into administration for the third time in nine years. They lost 3-0.