This will go down as Crawley Town’s greatest day.
The day they humbled mighty Leeds, pulled off a glorious upset and showed the magic of the FA Cup is alive and well.
One to remember for years to come when League Two Crawley, 62 places below their Premier League opponents, added to Leeds’ recent unhappy record in the cup.
Incredibly, Marcelo Bielsa has still not won an FA Cup tie in his third year as manager of Leeds having been dumped out by Arsenal last year, QPR the year before and now Crawley.
But the scoreline tells the story of how Crawley humiliated Leeds, completely overwhelmed them in the second half and pulled off another remarkable giant killing.
Leeds lost to Newport three years ago, non-league Sutton four years ago and now Crawley add their name to an unhappy record of upsets for the Premier League giants.
But this story is about Crawley, a remarkable achievement in front of the live BBC cameras when it was just such a shame that the fans were not here to see the wild celebrations at the end.
Ex-Tottenham trainee Nick Tsaroulla, Ashley Nadesan and Jordan Tunnicliffe scored in the second half as Leeds crumbled to one of the smallest clubs in the EFL.
Crawley boss John Yems has done a remarkable job on one of the smallest budgets in League Two with as many headlines about reality TV star Mark Wright joining them as anything they have done on the pitch.
Ex-TOWIE star Wright, 33, got his moment as an 89th minute substitute in what felt like a publicity stunt but the truth was that Crawley’s players are the real heroes.
What a day. What a story.
And Leeds put out most of their big guns even if Bielsa will probably regret bringing on two kids at half time and Oliver Casey and Jack Jenkins looking like rabbits in the headlights.
But it was also about Crawley’s passion, determination and running as they sensed Leeds were vulnerable and nervous – and punished them.
Leeds started quite well, bossed the early stages but had little to show for their possession other than Ian Poveda going close early on but Crawley keeper Glenn Morris made a smart stop with his legs.
The warning signs came before the break when Tom Nichols went so close with a point blank header but Leeds keeper Kiko Casilla somehow clawed it away with a brilliant save.
Bielsa had clearly seen enough at half time – Jack Harrison coming on with the two youngsters Casey and Jenkins – but Leeds looked vulnerable and Crawley could smell an upset. Casey got horridly exposed on both the first two goals.
Nadesan began the move on the 50th minute opener, Tsaroulla showed wonderful composure as he kept his nerve before burying a low shot beyond Casilla into the far corner.
Three minutes later, it got even better. This time, Nichols played the ball forward, Nadesan escaped down the right, the Leeds defence went AWOL, Nadesan then cut inside the box and unleashed a low shot which inexplicably went straight through Casilla.
It got even better after 70 minutes. Chaos broke out in the Leeds penalty box, Casilla made a smart save but then Jordan Tunnicliffe smashed home from close range.
And this was no fluke. Crawley substitute Max Watters went clean through but saw his effort blocked and then was denied by another last ditch clearance.
What an incredible story. The FA Cup is alive and well. Don’t believe any killjoy who tells you different.
Crawley (5-3-2): Morris 7; Francomb 7, Tunnicliffe 7, Craig 7, Dallison 7 (M Wright, 89), Tsaroulla (8 Watters, 72, 7); Powell 7, Matthews 6 (Davies, 72), Hessenthaler 6 (Doherty, 89); Nadesan 9 (J Wright, 72, 6), Nichols 8
Leeds (3-4-3): Casilla 6; Phillips 7, Cooper 6 (Jenkins, 46, 6), Davis 5 (Greenwood, 58, 5); Shackleton 6, Struijk 5 (Casey, 46, 4), Hernández 5, Alioski 5; Poveda 7 (Raphina, 6, Hélder Costa 6, Rodrigo 5(Harrison, 46, 5).
Man of the match: Nadesan
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