FA Cup's top giant-killers? Here's what the numbers say

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Big Shocks, big beards & Hodgson’s silky touch – FA Cup Catch up

AFC Wimbledon, Bristol City, Derby County, Gillingham, Millwall, Newport County, Oldham Athletic.

Already this season, seven clubs from outside the Premier League have knocked clubs from England's highest league out of the FA Cup.

But which teams have been the most prolific giant-killers in FA Cup history?

Using the database from sports analysts Gracenote and a definition of a giant-killing as knocking out a top-flight team when not in the top flight, we discovered the answer ahead of the fifth round commencing on Friday.

Most frequent giant-killers?

The record for the club with the most frequent FA Cup giant-killings was actually equalled in this year's FA Cup fourth round when Millwall won 3-2 against Everton taking their tally to 25 scalps and equalling Southampton's record.

Millwall have been a prolific giant-killer in the past seven seasons of the FA Cup, facing seven Premier League clubs and knocking five of them out and victory this weekend against League One bottom club AFC Wimbledon will give Millwall their third FA Cup quarter-final in the past seven years.

The Lions would probably have preferred a bigger fish than AFC Wimbledon in this year's fifth round though.

Millwall's record against teams playing in a lower division is somewhat less impressive. Southend United (2014), Bradford City (2015) and Rochdale (2018) have all knocked the south Londoners out of the competition in the past seven seasons.

Clubs with the most giant-killings in the FA Cup (Source: Gracenote)
ClubTotal giant-killingsPre-WWIIPost WWIILast giant-killing
Southampton251782011 v Blackpool
Millwall2511142019 v Everton
Birmingham City212192012 v Wolves
West Ham United207132005 v Norwich City
Fulham2010102017 v Hull City
Sheffield United204162015 v Queens Park Rangers

League Two clubs rarely make it this far

Fourth tier clubs knocking out most teams from the top two divisions (Source: Gracenote)
ClubTeams they have knocked outLast victim
Peterborough United5Colchester United 2008
Newport County5Middlesbrough 2019
Aldershot Town4Oxford United 1987
Scunthorpe United4Burnley 2001
York City4Grimsby Town 2002
Blackpool4Barnsley 2017

The other big giant-killing story of this season is Newport County's run to the fifth round.

Only seven teams from the fourth tier of English football have made it this far in the FA Cup in the 27 years since the Premier League began in 1992-93. Newport are the latest to achieve this but have had to do it the hard way by eliminating Premier League club Leicester City and Championship side Middlesbrough.

This makes Newport only the fifth club from the fourth tier to knock out two teams from the top two divisions in an FA Cup season - the Welsh club are preceded by Southport (1966), Peterborough United (1986), Rochdale (2003) and Crawley Town (2012).

Middlesbrough became the fifth club from England's top two divisions to be knocked out by a Newport County team playing in the fourth tier and Newport thereby joined Peterborough United as League Two teams with the most FA Cup successes against clubs from the top two English leagues.

Only four clubs have ever reached the sixth round while playing in the fourth tier. Cambridge United in 1990 are the most recent, with Oxford United (1964), Colchester United (1971) and Bradford City (1976) the others.

Fourth-tier clubs in the FA Cup fifth round - Premier League era (Source: Gracenote)
ClubYear in the fifth roundOpponentResult
Newport County2019Manchester CityTBD
Coventry City2018BrightonLost 1-3
Crawley Town2012Stoke CityLost 0-2
Notts County2010FulhamLost 0-4
Swansea City2004Tranmere RoversLost 1-2
Rochdale2003WolvesLost 1-3
Cheltenham Town2002West Bromwich AlbionLost 0-1

Premier League clubs make up less than half of last 16

Only seven Premier League teams have made it to the fifth round of this season's FA Cup, the lowest number for six years.

The record low for the Premier League era is six in 2007-08 when Portsmouth and Cardiff City went on to meet in the only final since 1984 not to feature a team from the current Premier League's 'big six' - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham.

This season is the 13th since the current FA Cup format began in 1925-26 in which fewer than half of the fifth round clubs are from the top flight, with the lowest number of top-flight clubs reaching this stage five in 1958.

In that year, only Bolton Wanderers, Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday, West Bromwich Albion and Wolves represented England's top division in the fifth round.

Bolton Wanderers and Manchester United reached the final with Bolton winning 2-0, a little over three months after United had lost much of their team in the Munich air disaster.

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