Fulham had to come from behind at home to earn a replay in an entertaining 1-1 draw with Championship club Sunderland.
The visitors took a surprising lead in just the sixth minute when Jack Clarke took advantage of an Issa Diop mistake that inspired the Black Cats with an impressive performance at Craven Cottage.
Tony Mowbray’s side hit 17 but found no other way past goalkeeper Marek Rodak while Fulham also trapped 21 tries – despite being denied time and time again by the outstanding Anthony Patterson.
However, Cairney equalized for Fulham with a superb solo goal that rounded the Sunderland defense inside and out before slotting into the bottom corner.
The visitors thought they had won the tie when substitute Christopher Rigg (15 years old) scored in stoppage time, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
How did the entertainment happen?
Fulham started the game well as they looked to get back to their winning ways after back-to-back 1-0 defeats against Tottenham and Newcastle. Coach Marco Silva made seven changes to his starting line-up, but it was Sunderland who took the early lead.
Clark took advantage of a mistake by Issa Diop, so he took the ball from the Fulham defender before entering the goal and shooting past Marek Rodak.
Fulham almost equalized in the 14th minute, but Tosin Adarabioyo’s header from a cross from Andreas Pereira hit the ground over goalkeeper Anthony Patterson and the crossbar.
Ross Stewart was then carried off the field on a stretcher with what appeared to be an ankle problem, forcing Sunderland to make their first substitution of the game and denying them the chance to add 10 goals in 13 games this season.
Fulham got another good opportunity in the first half from a quick attack on the left wing of Manor Solomon, who returned the ball to Pereira, but his shot was brilliantly stopped on the line by Daniel Ballard.
Harry Wilson also had a chance for the home side when he was picked on by Cairney on the right, cutting inside to make room for a shot and forcing a good save from Patterson.
Wilson was denied again by Patterson minutes later when he went off line to close the corner for the Fulham winger.
Sunderland almost doubled their lead when they collided with Fulham in the second half, as Patrick Roberts took possession of the ball, passing most of the home team’s half before hitting a shot that was just wide of Rodak’s goal.
However, Fulham eventually settled for a clever piece of individual skill from Cairney just after the hour mark.
The midfielder was picked off by Levin Kurzawa in the penalty area but still had plenty of work to do, fighting his way past two defenders to create space before shooting past Patterson.
Silva brought on Aleksandar Mitrovic and Willian in an effort to force the Fulham striker to head straight for Patterson from a Kenny Tete cross.
Sunderland thought they had scored the winning goal when 15-year-old Christopher Rigg slammed home the ball in the 90th minute, but the goal was ruled out for offside to ensure a replay at the Stadium of Light. .
Fulham coach Marco Silva: “A strange game I can say. It was an intense game, a typical FA Cup game I think it’s fair to say.
“Of course, we were more dominant but the match was just too disruptive for me as a manager to enjoy it, to be honest.
“We conceded a cheap goal, but overall in the game, I think we created enough chances to score more goals. On the other hand, I think we gave us many chances to score as well, and some counter-attacks where we gave the ball away at certain moments.
“We lost some important challenges and that was the part of the match that I didn’t like.”
Mowbray is proud of his young black cats
Sunderland coach Tony Mowbray: “The dominant thing today was the positivity of an extraordinarily young team that was on that field.
Once Ross was out, there were only two players over the age of 22 or 23 on the field and they played against Fulham, who beat Chelsea here two weeks ago and are closing in on the Premier League.
“So I think it was a good performance from a very young team who played well and threatened from the start and could have added to our goals.”
Fulham Return to Premier League action on Friday with a trip to west London rivals ChelseaGo on with your life Sky Sports; Kick-off is at 8 p.m.
Friday, February 3, 7:00 p.m
It starts at 8:00 pm
He then hosts Marco Silva’s side Nottingham Forest on Saturday, February 11; Match kick off 3 p.m.
Sunderland The next game in the tournament, with a trip to Millwall on Saturday; Match kick off 3 p.m.
She then hosts Tony Mowbray’s costume reading on Saturday, February 11; Match kick off 3 p.m.