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A closer look at Crawley after their impressive FA Cup victory over Leeds

Crawley Town v Leeds United – Emirates FA Cup – Third Round – People’s Pension Stadium
(Image credit: Adam Davy)

Crawley pulled off a huge FA Cup third-round upset on Sunday as the League Two outfit won 3-0 at home against Premier League Leeds.

Nick Tsaroulla, Ashley Nadesan and Jordan Tunnicliffe all scored in the second half on a famous afternoon for Crawley.

Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look at the giant-killing West Sussex club.

What is Crawley’s cup pedigree?

Crawley beat Derby in the FA Cup third round in 2011 (Chris Ison/PA).

Crawley beat Derby in the FA Cup third round in 2011 (Chris Ison/PA)

While this was their maiden victory over top-flight opposition in the FA Cup, Crawley have produced shocks in the competition before. In 2010-11 – the season they gained promotion to the Football League for the first time – a run to the last 16 included a 2-1 third-round win at home against Championship Derby, and a year later they beat two more second-tier sides, Bristol City at home and Hull away, both 1-0, en route to reaching the fifth round once again. Their exploits in the League Cup include last term defeating Norwich – then a Premier League team – 1-0 at home.

How did they get to round three?

The club had already had a fairly remarkable time of it in this season’s FA Cup even before they took on Leeds. In the first round they came back from 5-3 down in extra time at Torquay to secure an incredible 6-5 victory. Then at League One AFC Wimbledon in the second round they came from behind again, triumphing 2-1.

How is the season shaping up for them in general?

In terms of their League Two campaign, things are looking promising for Crawley. Having come 13th last season, they currently lie sixth, three points behind third-placed Cambridge, and are unbeaten in their last eight league games, winning four of the previous six.

Who is their manager?

Crawley Town v Leeds United – Emirates FA Cup – Third Round – People’s Pension Stadium

John Yems, left, has been in charge at Crawley since December 2019 (Adam Davy/PA)

John Yems was appointed as Crawley boss in December 2019, initially on a contract to the end of that season, before he signed a new deal the following month running to the end of 2022-23. It is his second spell in charge at the club – the 61-year-old previously led them to Conference safety at the end of 2006-07 alongside Ben Judge and Dave Woozley. He went on to work as Paul Tisdale’s assistant at Exeter and was then Bournemouth’s football operations manager for six years. Yems has also scouted for various clubs, including Newcastle.

Who are their key players?

Striker Max Watters has been in fine form this season, scoring 15 goals in all competitions, with 13 of those coming in the league. He came off the bench on Sunday, having been a doubt due to a hamstring problem. Fellow forward Tom Nichols has netted 10 times, including a hat-trick in the tie against Torquay, while wide man Tsaroulla, a former Tottenham youth player, showed his quality with his superb opener on Sunday – his first senior goal.

Any others of note?

Mark Wright came off the bench against Leeds

Mark Wright came off the bench against Leeds (Adam Davy/PA)

Another player to catch the eye in the Leeds game was a substitute introduced in stoppage time – former reality television star Mark Wright. It was the first appearance of a second stint with Crawley for Wright, who re-joined the club on a non-contract basis last month. His brother Josh, signed last week, also came off the bench in the game.