Swindon shock Wigan, Bolton held
Paulo Di Canio's Swindon side created the biggest headline of the day during the third round of the FA Cup after the League Two team stunned Wigan 2-1 at the County Ground.
On a day when giant killings were at a premium in the world's greatest cup competition, Bolton and QPR were both also given a tough afternoon against lower league opposition, while Newcastle dumped Blackburn out in injury-time.
One of the most heavily fancied fixtures for an upset on Saturday saw Di Canio's Swindon host Wigan, with some bookies even making Swindon favourites despite their League Two status. However, they came from behind to win 2-1 on home soil, thanks to goals from Alan Connell and Paul Benson.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez rested plenty of key names including Conor Sammon, Jordi Gomez and Victor Moses, but his side still led when Callum McManaman tapped home after Ben Watson's penalty hit a post.
However, a superb flicked header from Connell saw the Robins equalise before the interval, and Benson then stepped off the bench to cause a big upset. It was Matt Ritchie who hit a speculative shot goalwards, but it deflected off Benson to leave Al-Habsi with no chance.
Newcastle waved Demba Ba and Cheik Tiote off to the African Cup of Nations prior to kick-off against Blackburn, and they were given a taste of how difficult life may be without their star duo before winning 2-1 at St James' Park.
Rovers rested the likes of Chris Samba and Yakubu, but they nevertheless took the lead through David Goodwillie's first-half tap-in after Tim Krul parried Grant Hanley's header. Alan Pardew threw on Shola Ameobi in the second half, but it was a piece of magic from Hatem Ben Arfa that got them back on terms, beating six or seven players before sending the ball between the legs of the goalkeeper. Jonas Gutierrez then won it in injury-time for the Magpies.
Bolton's horror season threatened to continue after they drew 2-2 with League Two side Macclesfield, who led until 13 minutes from time. Ivan Klasnic appeared to set up an easy afternoon for the Premier League outfit with a seventh-minute strike from close range, but the lead didn't last long as Macclesfield's Colin Daniel controlled well inside the area before turning past Adam Bogdan.
Owen Coyle's men have shown signs of improvement of late, beating Everton in midweek, but they fell behind to a stunning strike from Arnaud Mendy, who volleyed home from all of 25 yards just after the hour. It needed David Wheater to rescue Bolton, who will be grateful for a replay.
Unlike Bolton, Queens Park Rangers fielded something close to a full-strength side against MK Dons, and Neil Warnock's side equalised in injury-time to claim a 1-1 draw at Stadium:MK. Loan signing Federico Macheda made a poor impression on debut for the Rs, and they needed Heidar Helguson to rescue them after Dean Bowditch struck just after the hour for the home side.
Everton have not lost at home to a non-League side in the FA Cup since a defeat to Tottenham back in 1904, and they were certainly never in danger as they beat Tamworth 2-0 at Goodison Park. David Moyes named a strong line-up, although there was no place for Leighton Baines, Louis Saha or Tim Cahill, and he was rewarded with goals from Johnny Heitinga and substitute Baines.
It took all of five minutes for the Premier League side to strike, Heitinga sending a simple far post header off the underside of the bar at a corner. Everton then wrapped things up late on through a Baines penalty.
Fulham faced a potentially tricky tie at home to League One leaders Charlton,but Martin Jol's side coped admirably to progress with a 4-0 victory at Craven Cottage. Jol clearly values the importance of a good cup run, making just one change from the side that beat Arsenal, and he was rewarded with a place in the fourth round.
Clint Dempsey, enjoying another good season, opened the scoring in the eighth minute, sweeping the ball back across the keeper after Danny Murphy had produced the initial shot. The American then struck again on the hour, before completing his hat-trick from the spot late on with Damien Duff adding a late fourth.
Last year's finalists Stoke were handed a real scare by League Two Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium, falling behind before coming back to win 3-1. Tony Pulis' starting XI showed he is clearly taking the competition extremely seriously once again, but they were stunned in the 16th minute when Danny Kedwell arrived unmarked at the back post to hand Gillingham a 16th-minute lead.
Stoke equalised with their first real shot on target as some poor keeping allowed Jon Walters to level the scores, before the tables were completely turned by half-time as Cameron Jerome found the net from all of a couple of yards. The Potters then pressed home their advantage through Robert Huth in the second half.
Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp took the opportunity to play his second string at home to Cheltenham, and he was not punished as Spurs eased through with a 3-0 triumph at White Hart Lane. Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon both returned from injury for the home side, and they enjoyed a comfortable afternoon thanks to strikes from Jermain Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Giovani Dos Santos.
Almost inevitably it was Defoe's poacher's instincts that made the initial difference, tapping home on the goal-line midway through the first half after Dos Santos had chipped the keeper following Niko Kranjcar's delightful through-ball. By half-time it was 2-0 as Defoe turned provider for Pavlyuchenko to turn home the England man's cross, before Dos Santos added a late third.
West Brom also took the chance to give first-team football to some of their fringe players, but they still had enough to beat Cardiff 4-2 in a thriller at the Hawthorns. Roy Hodgson kept one eye on the Premier League with his team selection, but he did keep Peter Odemwingie in the line-up, and the Nigerian opened the scoring on eight minutes, although he may have been offside.
Strike partner Simon Cox then doubled that lead on 33 minutes with a header from Nicky Shorey's free-kick, although the lead was halved by the break through Rob Earnshaw. Joe Mason then restored parity five minutes into the second period, but Albion responded through two more from hat-trick hero Cox.
There was another back-and-forth cup tie at Norwich, who eventually saw off Burnley 4-1 at Carrow Road. In a game full of headed goals, it was Paul Lambert who was rewarded for sending out a strong Norwich XI, although he did rest Steve Morison.
It took only six minutes for the Canaries to open the scoring as Grant Holt nodded home from close range, and Simeon Jackson then doubled the lead on 12 minutes with another header, guiding his effort just beneath the bar. Within three minutes they were pegged back by Jay Rodriguez, but Andrew Surman restored the two-goal buffer in the second half, before Morison came off the bench to kill the game off.
Swansea were also considered to be in danger of a cup upset, particularly when their heavily-changed line-up fell behind before rallying to win 4-2 at Barnsley. The likes of Scott Sinclair and Joe Allen did not start the game for the Swans, and Barnsley threatened to punish them when Ricardo Vaz Te struck against the run of play on the half-hour.
However, Angel Rangel equalised immediately, before Danny Graham's sensational strike 60 seconds into the second half turned the game on its head. Nathan Dyer added a third for Swansea, and Graham then killed things off after Vaz Te notched his second of the afternoon.
The 130th meeting of West Midlands rivals Birmingham and Wolves ended 0-0 in a match that saw both defences comprehensively on top of their attacking counterparts. Perhaps the most significant moment of the game saw Wolves defender Roger Johnson hobble off injured, although Blues were grateful for a stunning save in injury-time from Colin Doyle.
Millwall and Dagenham & Redbridge will also have to do it all again after the League Two side held out for a 0-0 draw on home soil in the other lunchtime kick-off.
In a clash of the top and bottom sides in the Championship, the match went to the form book as Coventry lost 2-1 to Southampton at the Ricoh Arena. Winners of the 1987 final, Coventry wore a replica kit to mark that occasion, and they took the lead after six minutes thanks to Gary McSheffrey. However, Southampton hit back through James Ward-Prowse, before Aaron Martin hit a late winner.
Elsewhere, two-time winners Nottingham Forest drew 0-0 against Leicester, non-League Fleetwood were undone 5-1 by Blackpool thanks to goals from Lomana LuaLua, Matt Phillips (3) and Thomas Ince, and fellow Blue Square outfit Wrexham drew 1-1 against Brighton after Adrian Cieslewicz cancelled out Jake Forster-Caskey's strike.
Crawley Town, who reached round five before succumbing to Manchester United last season, are threatening to do it again after they won 1-0 against Bristol City thanks inevitably to Matt Tubbs, Derby saw off Carling Cup semi-finalists Crystal Palace 1-0 at Pride Park through Theo Robinson, Hull beat Ipswich 3-1 after goals from Aaron McLean, Tom Cairney and Cameron Stewart, and Reading were stunned by Stevenage 1-0 after a goal from Darius Charles.
In the late kick-off, Aston Villa beat Bristol Rovers 3-1 at the Memorial Stadium. Marc Albrighton, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ciaran Clark gave Villa a comfortable lead before some poor defending allowed Scott McGleish to score in the 90th minute.
Villa then conceded a penalty in stoppage time when Stephen Warnock handled the ball, but Brad Guzan comfortably saved McGleish's spot kick.