Having staggered through an exhausting Christmas and New Year programme, the third round of the FA Cup might have seemed a match too far for some, but League Two strugglers Mansfield Town, one place off the bottom of the entire Football League, and Peterborough United, pressing for promotion from the same division, had more than enough energy left for giant-killing feats away from home, at League One Brighton and Championship side Colchester United respectively.
Aaron McLean's 20th goal of the season, George Boyd's seventh and a late Charlie Lee strike saw Posh, managed by Darren Ferguson, son of Sir Alex, through to the fourth round with a 3-1 win. "A good performance," Ferguson the younger said. "We came to a Champ-ionship team and gave them a bit of a battering."
And he showed some of his father's bite over the penalty that got Colchester back into the game. "The game should have been over by half-time, the referee got them back into it," he said. "It was a hell of a decision to give, there were a lot of bodies in the way."
Meanwhile, on the South Coast, Matt Hamshaw and Ian Holmes scored as Mansfield made light of their League travails to beat Brighton 2-1.
Other League Two sides dug in to force replays at home Bury at Norwich City, Barnet at Swindon Town, and Hereford at Tranmere Rovers. At Carrow Road, improved Norwich were given a fright when Andy Bishop put Bury ahead with 19 minutes left, but Gary Doherty equalised with 10 minutes to go, booking a replay at Gigg Lane. Barnet trailed Swindon at the County Ground until five minutes from time when substitute Adam Birchall looped in a shot to take the tie back to Underhill after a 1-1 draw. And at Prenton Park, Ben Smith and Trevor Benjamin scored for Hereford, who twice led Tranmere before settling for a 2-2 draw.
At Molineux, Wolves substitute Michael Kightly came on to save his side's blushes against Cambridge United of the Blue Square Premier. The underdogs led from the 42nd minute thanks to a Scott Rendell penalty, but Kightly, on in the 60th minute, scored in the 69th and with two minutes remaining he crossed for Neill Collins' match-winning header.
In the Essex derby, Southend United of League One eventually overcame League Two's Dagenham & Redbridge 5-2.
In the all-Championship ties, leaders West Bromwich Albion were held 1-1 at Charlton Athletic,while Preston North End took time off from their relegation fight to beat lowly Scunthorpe United 1-0. A single point separates Barnsley and Blackpool and their Cup tie was as tight until Tykes substitute Michael Coulson inspired the 2-1 win. Elsewhere, Plymouth Argyle beat Hull City 3-2, Southampton were 2-0 winners over Leicester City and Walsall, going well in League One, were held 0-0 by Millwall.
League action saw Carlisle come from 2-0 down to beat Port Vale 3-2 and go second in League One, while League Two leaders Milton Keynes Dons won 1-0 at Rotherham to go 11 points clear.