Crawley Town 3-0 Leeds United: FA Cup giant killing as League Two side stun Premier League Leeds

Report as second-half goals from Nick Tsaroulla, Ashley Nadesan and Jordan Tunnicliffe inspire League Two Crawley to stunning victory; Leeds have now been eliminated in the FA Cup third round in four successive seasons; Crawley reach fourth round for first time since 2012

Sunday 10 January 2021 15:53, UK

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-four 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.

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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.

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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’s next?

Crawley travel to Bradford in Sky Bet League Two and Leeds host Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday at 3pm.

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