The fourth round game at League Two Torquay United was a remarkable match that had a bit of everything in it.
The start of the game was delayed due to congestion as over five thousand fans, one thousand two hundred of whom were from Crawley, tried to pack into the Plainmoor ground.
The Blue Square Bet Premier League side took the lead through their much sought after striker Matt Tubbs in the thirty-ninth minute of a fairly even and uneventful first half.
After the break, the game really sprung into life. Torquay had chances to equalise but then their player Zebrowski, not only picked up two yellow cards in a minute to reduce his side to ten men, the second one was for handball in the are to give Crawley a great chance to seal their victory.
Torquay keeper Scott Bevan saved brilliantly from Tubbs’ spot kick and the game was still wide open. However, seven minutes later Crawley were awarded another penalty. This time McAllister stepped up, but again Bevan made a fine stop to keep his ten man team in the game.
Despite being down to ten men Torquay, who were themselves trying to get beyond the fourth round for the first time in their one hundred and eleven year history, poured forward in wave after wave of attack, but couldn’t find the equaliser even when ten minutes from the end, Crawley also had a player dismissed.
The game had everything that a good old fashioned FA Cup tie should have and the underdogs won out in the end.
Having said that, Crawley are not a typical non-league side. There is money and ambition at the club and in the Summer they spent over £500,000 on players. I would imagine that is the type of amount Torquay could only dream about.
Torquay are a mid-table League Two side who survive on home gates of around two thousand people. There is no money at the club and they lead a hand to mouth existence.
Crawley are top of the Blue Square Conference and have home gates of a similar size. They do have money and have bought up many top non-league players from elsewhere. Both clubs have a full-time coaching and playing staff.
When you look at the facts, maybe it wasn’t much of a shock result after all.
Despite that, it is a great achievement by Crawley who have also seen off League One Swindon and Championship Derby. They must be dreaming of a trip to Manchester United in the next round although a draw that put them at home to the likes of Leyton Orient could even see them make it to the quarter-finals.
I know some people think the FA Cup is a waste of time and holds little significance these days, but you try telling that to anyone at Crawley Town.
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