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Bluebirds join League Cup's lower league elite

Cardiff City were the first team from below English football's top division in 11 years to reach the League Cup final and only the 10th since the competition moved to its current format in 1967.

Had they beaten Liverpool, the Bluebirds would have joined an exclusive group of just four lower league sides to clinch the League Cup. Here are the sides that did it… and the ones who, like Cardiff, fell at the final hurdle.


1967: QPR 3-2 West Brom

Inspired by the brilliance of Rodney Marsh, Third Division Rangers overturned a 2-0 half-time deficit to stun their top-flight opponents. It remains the only major trophy the Hoops have ever won.

1969: Swindon 3-1 Arsenal

The biggest upset of them all. Mighty Arsenal were expected to smash Third Division Swindon but, with several Gunners players suffering from flu and the Wembley pitch in ruins after a Horse of the Year Show, the Robins rocked to an extra-time victory.

1975: Aston Villa 1-0 Norwich

The only time two second-tier sides have ever contested the final. Ray Graydon’s goal sealed victory for a Villa side that six years later would win the European Cup.

1991: Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Man United

A 37th-minute goal from John Sheridan was enough for Ron Atkinson’s triumphant Sheffield Wednesday side (pictured), who also won promotion to the top flight. Two years later they returned to the final but were beaten by Arsenal.


1971: Aston Villa 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Villa were playing in the third tier, the lowest they have ever sunk. Yet they belied that status to play Spurs off the park, eventually falling to two goals in the last ten minutes.

1981: West Ham 1-2 Liverpool (replay)

The original final at Wembley had ended in sensational fashion, with Alan Kennedy scoring what looked a nailed on winner in the 118th minute, only for the Hammers to equalise through defender Ray Stewart in the 120th. Sadly, the second division side’s luck ran out in the replay.

1990: Oldham 0-1 Nottingham Forest

A Latics side featuring the likes of Denis Irwin and Paul Warhurst succumbed to a single Nigel Jemson goal as Forest equalled Liverpool’s record of four wins.

1995: Bolton 1-2 Liverpool

Two goals from the brilliant Steve McManaman denied Bolton’s fans a cup, but promotion to the Premier League offered serious consolation.

2000: Tranmere 1-2 Leicester

A goal and a man down, the battling Rovers boys rallied to equalise through David Kelly in the 77th minute. But just three minutes later, Foxes skipper Matt Elliott hit his second of the match to seal glory for Leicester.

2001: Birmingham 1-1 Liverpool (Liverpool won on pens)

Like Cardiff, Brum equalised in the dying seconds but, yet again, Liverpool dished out penalty misery as Birmingham’s Andy Johnson missed the crucial final kick.

By Chris Dunlavy, The Football League Paper

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