When Chesterfield came within a whisker of an FA Cup final 25 years ago

It’s another Liverpool v Chelsea final this year, but back in 1997 a club from the third tier nearly went all the wayBy Chris Evans for The Set PiecesIt wasn’t until Jon Howard bumped into Martin Tyler after the match that he realised what had happened. The Chesterfield forward had come within one wave of the linesman’s flag from entering English football folklore. But instead of scoring the goal that would send a third-tier side to the FA Cup final for the first time in the modern era, Howard was consigned to being a nearly man in the ultimate “what if” story.The Spireites had been on the verge of beating Premier League side Middlesbrough in the 1997 FA Cup semi-final, two goals and a man up after Vladimir Kinder had been dismissed for picking up two bookings. Boro had pulled one back through Fabrizio Ravanelli, but Howard looked to have restored the two-goal cushion when his close-range shot smashed the underside of the crossbar and appeared to bounce over the line, only for referee David Elleray not to award the goal.