FA Cup 3rd. Round: FA Cup giant killing as Ligue 2 Crawley Town stun Leeds United (3-0)

Crawley Town produced the shock of the FA Cup third round as a second-half blitz saw the League Two side stun Premier League Leeds 3-0 on Sunday.

Sixty-two places in the English football pyramid stood between the two sides ahead of kick-off but that counted for nothing as Crawley secured one of the finest victories in the club's history.

Two goals in two-and-a-half minutes, a fine solo effort from Nick Tsaroulla and Ashley Nadesan's near-post drive, left Leeds with a mountain to climb at the Broadfield Stadium, and their hopes were extinguished 20 minutes from time when Jordan Tunnicliffe rammed home a rebound for Crawley's third.

The defeat continued Leeds' dismal run in the third round of the FA Cup, with Marcelo Bielsa's side having been eliminated at this stage for the last four seasons.

For Crawley, and their 61-year-old manager John Yems, thoughts turn to Monday's four and fifth-round draws, where one of the biggest cup upsets in recent years could be rewarded with a lucrative glamour tie.

Player ratings

Crawley: Morris (8), Francomb (7), Craig (7), Tunnicliffe (8), Dallison (7), Tsaroulla (8), Powell (7), Hessenthaler (8), Matthews (8), Nadesan (9), Nichols (7).

Subs: Davies (6), J Wright (6), Watters (6), Doherty (n/a), M Wright (n/a).

Leeds: Casilla (3), Davis (5), Struijk (5), Cooper (5), Alioski (5), Phillips (5), Shackleton (5), Hernandez (5), Poveda (5), Costa (5), Rodrigo (5).

Subs: Jenkins (4), Casey (4), Harrison (4), Raphinha (4), Greenwood (4).

Man of the Match: Ashley Nadesan.

How Crawley cruised past lacklustre Leeds

While in-form Crawley suffered a 1-0 fifth-round defeat at Manchester United as a non-league side a decade ago, this was almost certainly the club's biggest game on home soil.

Coronavirus restrictions deprived them of a sell-out home support but they were boosted by 15-goal top scorer Max Watters returning to the bench, where he was joined by former reality television star Mark Wright.

The hosts had to wait until four minutes before the break for their first real chance and could easily have gone into the dressing room ahead.

Team news

  • Nick Tsaroulla replaced Archie Davies in Crawley’s only change from the win at Bolton. Top scorer Max Watters returned from a hamstring injury but was fit enough only for a place on the bench.
  • Pascal Struijk, Ezgjan Alioski and Kalvin Phillips were the only players to retain their places as Leeds made eight changes from the defeat at Tottenham.

Striker Tom Nichols, scorer of a hat-trick in the remarkable 6-5 first-round win at Torquay, powerfully met Jack Powell's corner with his head, forcing back-up Leeds keeper Kiko Casilla into a diving save.

Undeterred by that missed opportunity, the hosts took control of the contest courtesy of two goals in the opening minutes of the second half.

Former Tottenham youth player Tsaroulla, whose inclusion was Crawley's only change from last weekend's win at Bolton, escaped the attentions of four Leeds players as he drove into the box and drilled his first senior goal into the bottom right corner.

The home dugout had barely finished celebrating the opener when the advantage was swiftly doubled. Nadesan burst into the 18-yard box on the right and, with no support, opted to unleash a low drive which bobbled and beat former Real Madrid keeper Casilla at the near post.

Crawley, flying high in the fourth tier, were seeking to make it 10 games without defeat and put the result beyond doubt with 20 minutes to play.

After Sam Matthews' free-kick into the box, Nadesan's effort was denied by Casilla, only for Tunicliffe to force the loose ball into the roof of the net.

There was never any threat of a Leeds comeback and substitute Watters could have added further gloss to the scoreline.

He found his path to goal blocked after rounding Casilla, while manager Yems also used the comfortable situation to bring on former The Only Way is Essex star Wright for the final moments.

Referee Peter Bankes' full-time whistle promoted celebratory scenes from the home side as they cruised into the fourth round for the first time since 2012.

Crawley topple top-flight Leeds - Opta stats

  • Since the Football League's fourth tier was added in 1958, Leeds' 3-0 loss at Crawley is only the second time a top-flight side has lost by 3+ goals to fourth tier opposition in the FA Cup, and first since Oxford United lost 3-0 to Aldershot in January 1987.
  • Nick Tsaroulla's opener against Leeds was the 21st goal scored by a player aged 21 or younger for Crawley Town in all competitions this season - the most of any club in England's top four tiers in 2020-21.

What the managers said...

Crawley manager John Yems: "You've got to enjoy these sort of days. We've worked hard enough for it so let's enjoy it.

"It's nice when you work on something and you've got the players here, there's a lot of them have a lot to prove to other clubs that released them.

"It was just a really good team performance. We done what we could do. They're a good side. We are what we are so let's see who we get in the next round and just enjoy the moment."

Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa: "We couldn't unbalance them when we attacked. We had the ball for a long period of time but we couldn't do much with it.

"In the first half, we played better than the opponent and the game was played how we wanted it to be played, even if we did not create much danger.

"And in the second half the game was played how the opponents wanted to play and they did create danger to deserve the goals that they scored. The result generates a lot of sadness and disappointment for us."

What's next?

Crawley Town travel to Bradford in League Two and Leeds United host Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday at 15:00h. (GMT).

Source: Sky Sports 

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