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Crawley Town are into the 4th round of the FA Cup after embarrassing Leeds United and causing the biggest shock so far in this years competition, proving to any doubters that the magic of the cup is very much still alive and kicking.

The opening 10 minutes of the game were positive for the home side as they looked to press Leeds high up the pitch and put them under some early pressure, which they did through a succession of corners and and free kicks into the box.

Leeds looked up for it themselves to start with, a few half chances came and went, they were also caught offside a number of times as they looked to break the Crawley back line.

On 12 minutes Pablo Hernandez blasted over from the edge of the box for Leeds, then two minutes later Crawley keeper Glenn Morris denied the lively Ian Poveda with a good save at his near post.

The game was then very cagey for the next 15 minutes until Leeds thought they had a good shout for a penalty. Excellent footwork on the left from Poveda had the Crawley back line panicking, the ball found its way over to the right where Helder Costa put it back across goal only to see Rodrigo go down easily after a tug on the shoulder from experienced, ex Millwall defender Tony Craig.

Sam Matthews hit a weak effort wide of the post from distance up the other end for the visitors.

On 40 minutes Ashley Nadesan won a corner for the home side after seeing his shot well blocked by the Leeds defence. From the resulting corner, Jack Powell put a lovely cross to the back post and the ball was met by the head of Tom Nicholls who forced an outstanding save out of Leeds keeper Kiko Casilla, assuring that the first half would end goalless.

But we didn’t have to wait long for a goal, the second half would provide us with that much loved FA Cup magic and it started just five minutes into the half. Leeds boss Bielsa made no less than 3 changes at half time, but it was no use.

Crawley winger Nicholas Tsaroulla turned his man excellently in the middle of the park before driving forward past two Leeds defenders into the box, then smashed home into the bottom far left corner with his left foot to make it 1-0 to the home side.

It was a wonderful goal and a fairy-tale moment for the former Spurs youngster, who missed a year out of the game 2 years ago after a car crash had left him badly injured meaning a long, hard road back to fitness. You could see he has bundles of natural ability as he took his goal expertly.

And just two minutes later things would get worse for Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United. Crawley forward Tom Nicholls broke with the ball in the Leeds United half before slotting in striker partner Ashley Nadesan to finish past Leeds keeper Casilla and make it 2-0.

It was another great moment for the home side but a moment to forget for the Leeds keeper who should really have done much better with the effort, albeit a slight bobble didn’t help him.

Leeds then turned up the pressure and nearly managed to nick a goal themselves on 57 minutes. Jamie Shackleton found himself in a good position on the right, he put a decent pass across the face of the goal for Helder Costa but the incoming winger couldn’t connect properly with ball after being at full stretch. It was agonisingly close for the visitors.

Just a minute later Costa would be frustrated again as his goal bound effort was brilliantly blocked by defender Craig.

Bielsa then made a further 2 changes as he looked to spark a comeback, meaning the Leeds manager had used all of his 5 substitutes within the hour at The People’s Pension Stadium.

Less than 10 minutes later though it was game over.

Crawley had a freekick on the right hand side, the ball was whipped in to the box and caused chaos for the Leeds defenders. Scorer of the second goal Ashley Nadesan saw his effort saved by the Leeds keeper but the rebound fell to defender Jordan Tunnicliffe, who was there to smash home into the roof of the net and give John Yem’s side a Golden chance to pull off a sensational shock in East Sussex. 3-0 Crawley.

Leeds huffed and puffed but ultimately could not even put a dent into the Crawley house never mind blow it down. Infact it was nearly 4-0 when Crawley substitute Max Watters took the ball round the on rushing Leeds keeper on the edge of the box, but the forward took too long to get his shot away and missed out on his chance at rubbing salt into the Leeds wounds.

And if Premier League Leeds weren’t already embarrassed enough by being 3-0 down to a side in League 2, they were about to feel a tinge more embarrassment in the the last few moments of the game.

On 90 minutes 33 year old TV personality Mark Wright, made his professional debut coming on as a substitute for Crawley after his recent signing for Yem’s side.

It must have been a very proud moment for the Wright household as Mark joined his brother Josh in the midfield for the final 3 minutes of the game to help see out what was a memorable, fully deserved win for the home side.

Leeds were very disappointing all afternoon and were second best all over the field. Bielsa chose to not include a recognised striker on the bench and that didn’t help matters as Leeds were chasing the game in the second half.

Crawley used all their experience in this one and had a lot of quality to go with it. They were outstanding from start to finish and will go into the next round full of confidence no matter who they are up against.

The draw for the next round is at 7pm on Monday night, live on BBC 2.


Tsaroulla 50

Nadesan 53

Tunnicliffe 70


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