Lincoln becomes first non-league team to reach FA Cup quarterfinals 1914


(Photo: Anthony Devlin, AFP/Getty Images)

BURNLEY, England (AP) — Lincoln became the first non-league team to reach the FA Cup quarterfinals in more than a century by beating Premier League side Burnley 1-0 with an 89th-minute goal on Saturday.

Sean Raggett scored the most famous goal in Lincoln's 133-year history, with his close-range header at the far post adjudged to have crossed the line before Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton clawed the ball away.

Having already eliminated second-tier League Championship teams Ipswich and Brighton on its remarkable run to the last 16, fifth-tier leader Lincoln ousted a top-flight club that held runaway Premier League leader Chelsea to a draw only last weekend.

Lincoln's contingent of 3,210 visiting fans was singing "We're going to Wembley" 15 minutes after the final whistle at Turf Moor, in front of the team's celebrating players.

"It is unbelievable," said Lincoln striker Matt Rhead, who only four years ago was working for a company that made construction machinery. "When we started back in October, it was a dream."

The last non-league team to reach the FA Cup quarterfinals was Queens Park Rangers in 1914. Lincoln was playing in the last 16 for the first time in 130 years.

Eighty-one places separate Burnley and Lincoln in English soccer's pyramid but there was no obvious difference between the sides on a chilly day in northern England.

Fortified by bacon rolls and cups of coffee and tea laid on by the club, hundreds of Lincoln supporters boarded coaches early Saturday and traveled from Sincil Bank in the East Midlands to Turf Moor, a quaint ground with quintessentially English views of rows of terraced houses and old cotton mills.

"Impvasion" — a reference to Lincoln's nickname of The Imps — briefly trended on Twitter.

Lincoln, unsurprisingly, had sold out its allocation and the team's fans were in good voice before and during a match, especially when an upset was looking increasingly likely.

Rhead, a giant throwback of a striker, caused problems with his height and presence. Nathan Arnold, a winger who has worked as a hairdresser in his spare time, was a constant threat down the right with his pace.

Lincoln tried to play its passing game when it could but was tight at the back, even when Burnley threw everything at the visitors in a tense last five minutes.

In the end, the key moment came when a deep corner was headed back across goal and Raggett rose above a crowd of Burnley defenders at the far post to nod goalward and over the line — just.

"No excuses," Burnley manager Sean Dyche said. "We're unfortunately part of their fairytale."

Lincoln has made nearly 1 million pounds ($1.24 million) from this cup run, putting the club back in the black for the first time in years. There will be much more cash coming its way after the quarterfinals, the draw for which is made on Sunday.

"It's brought the city together," said Chris Ashton, a lifelong Lincoln fan who helped organize supporters' coaches.

Another non-league team, Sutton, hosts Arsenal in a fifth-round match on Monday. Premier League sides Manchester City, Chelsea, Leicester and Middlesbrough take on lower-league opposition later Saturday.

Source: USA Today
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