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Shock FA Cup exits and how COVID has changed the footballing world

During this global pandemic, the footballing world has faced many difficult challenges and in this article, we’ll cover just how COVID has disrupted so many games over the past ten months. We’ll also bring you all of the biggest headlines from an exciting weekend of FA Cup action with many surprising exits emerging.

How has COVID had an effect on games?

Back in March 2020, we saw football matches all around the world temporarily postponed due to the new COVID-19 outbreak that was spreading rapidly internationally. Games were delayed for two months with players having to continue both their training and fitness regimes from home, not knowing when they would have to be match ready again. The Premier League and Championship were given the green light to return in the middle of June, however, unlike normal the fixtures would have to be played behind closed doors with no fans allowed into the stadiums to watch their beloved teams. 

What changes have been made to match days? 

There have been various changes made to the normal routine of a match day, for example, the away team now have to enter from the opposite end of the ground to avoid any additional mixing between the two sides. They are also being made to use separate dressing rooms which in some cases is simply an isolated portacabin in the middle of the club car park. On arrival to the stadium, all players and staff from both teams will have their temperature checked to ensure that nothing has been caught at the last minute. 

Weekly testing system returns

Both the Premier League and the EFL have confirmed that the weekly testing system is making a return and will be taking place throughout all English clubs. In the last couple of weeks, there has been a huge increase in the number of cases that have been developing in teams all over the country. Lots of players and members of the coaching staff have been receiving multiple positive COVID tests back which has sparked a huge concern for the authorities, hence why they have made the sensible decision to reintroduce the regular testing programme. 

National League side Chorley Town sail through to Round 4

It was a jam-packed weekend with plenty of entertaining third-round action taking place in the FA Cup over the past few days. We start at Victory Park where Chorley Town of the sixth tier of English football earned a 2-0 win against Championship side Derby County. The Rams were forced to field their Under-23’s side as the first team are currently suffering from a new COVID outbreak, but nonetheless, it was the National League North side who came out on top. The goals from Connor Hall and Mike Calveley sent Chorley Town straight through to the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history. 

West Brom suffer shock defeat at Bloomfield Road

Sam Allardyce’s Premier League men suffered a huge blow as they fell to defeat against League One side Blackpool. After 90 minutes, it finished 2-2 with goals coming from Jerry Yates and Gary Madine for the home side and Semi Ajayi and Matheus Pereira netting for the Baggies. The match went to extra-time but still nothing could be done to separate the two teams meaning that it was going to penalties. It was the Seasiders who were victorious and won the shootout by 3 goals to 2. Goalkeeper Chris Maxwell was the hero of the night as he saved three spot-kicks from West Brom to cause an upset and send his team through to the next round. 

Leeds bow out at the hands of League Two team Crawley Town

FA Cup underdogs Crawley Town of League Two produced one of the most surprising results of the round as they easily knocked out Premier League opposition with a 3-0 win over Leeds United. A fantastic performance by John Yem’s side meant that they have reached the fourth round for only the third time in the club’s 125 year history with the goals coming from Nick Tsaroulla, Ashley Nadesan and Jordan Tunnicliffe. Crawley even brought on reality TV star Mark Wright in stoppage-time who recently signed non-contract terms back in December. There are a huge 62 league places between Leeds and the hosts but this didn’t stop them from creating this wonderful achievement. 

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