Why the Leeds United game is perfect timing for Crawley Town - except for the fans

Next Saturday Crawley Town welcome Premier League Leeds United to the People’s Pension Stadium for an FA Cup Third Round tie that is the biggest game ever to be played in Crawley.

Sunday, 3rd January 2021, 2:13 pm

The only disappointment will be that nearly 6000 Reds supporters will not be there to roar on their favourites. Otherwise the timing is perfect.

Since eliminating AFC Wimbledon in the previous round John Yems’ team have been undefeated in eight League Two games and have climbed into the play off places.

Tom Nichols battles for the ball against Bolton on Saturday

They will kick off full of confidence after recording two excellent away wins. Having lowered the colours of second placed Forest Green Rovers thanks to an excellent double from Tom Nichols they took on the most prestigious name in the division – Bolton Wanderers.

They returned from Lancashire with three points secured by skipper George Francomb’s crisp finish to an excellent team move that was backed up by a resilient defensive display as the Trotters raised their game. No quarter was asked or given and the Reds finished strongly maintaining their 100% record against the former top flight regulars.

Bolton in fact are three-time FA Cup winners, a trophy also won by Leeds, but that competition has always been home to famous giant killing acts. A club’s reputation counts for nothing if they don’t deliver on the day.

Manchester United, for one, have cause to remember that as do some 9500 Crawley Town supporters. They all know that in the battle of the two Red Devils in 2011 that United’s single goal win in front of nearly 75000 at Old Trafford was a close run thing. Who knows what would have happened in the replay had Richard Brodie’s injury time header not hit the crossbar.

Crawley Town proved it was no flash in the pan by reaching the Fifth Round again the following season. Their absent fans will now be glued to the BBC’s live coverage on Sunday and will be full of confidence. None of them will deny that the visiting Yorkshire club will provide daunting opposition but they will not be totally surprised if they witness another cup upset.

The manager and his assistant Lee Bradbury will be well aware that Leeds’ games in the Premier League this term have produced more goals than any other club. The opposition manager, Marco Bielsa, believes in attacking football which on occasions has left his defence wide open. They have conceded more goals than even their near neighbours Sheffield United who have been cast adrift at the foot of the table with a mere two points to their name.

The supporters’ hopes for another coup will be based on that and who can blame them.

Come on you Reds.