Crawley Town v Leeds United: Five things the FA Cup third round opponents have in common
Crawley Town and Leeds United are not two teams you would think have too much in common.
But Niall Cahill found five things the clubs have in common - and we start with two managers who have managed both clubs.
The 58-year-old’s relationship with Crawley Town had been a memorable one. Evans had managed to guide his team to 128 wins out of the 266 he took charge of, losing just 70.
Appointed manager in 2007, it was a tough job improving the Reds who finished 18th in the conference the previous season. It was steady progress with each season having higher placements than the previous, and then it all clicked in the 2010-11 season.
Crawley striker Matt Tubbs was in fine form as he topped the League scoring charts with 37 goals. Evans and the team had finished 1st in the Conference giving them a spot in League Two for the first time in the club’s history. It only got better for the Sussex side when they managed to clinch a 3rd place promotion spot to League One.
Alongside their convincing league form Crawley had two very impressive runs in the FA Cup seeing them knocked out of the fifth round in back to back seasons from 2010-11 and 2011-12. They faced topflight opposition in both fifth rounds, with one of them being a trip up to Old Trafford where Crawley were defeated in a heart-breaking 1-0.
Evans also had some of his days at Leeds United, he took over from Uwe Rosler in October 2015 on a rolling contract until 30th June 2016. He had done his job for the club finishing his team 13th after underperforming the previous season. He was also struck by his own fifth round FA Cup curse where they saw an exit to Watford. His performance wasn’t enough to earn him a new contract however and left in the summer.
The 42-year-old Australian had seen most of his early days score goals for Leeds United. From 1996 to 2003 he had made 181 appearances for the club scoring 45 goals before signing for Liverpool for £7million.
He made his debut for Leeds aged 17, in a 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough. It took nearly a year for the young Harry to make his mark on the Leeds goal scorers, netting in a 3-1 League Cup win over Stoke City. Arguably Harry’s best season had come in the year of 1999. He had picked up PFA young player of the year and been selected in the PFA team of the year, which had seen him pick up interest from top European clubs, one being Italy giants Inter Milan. The Italians had offered £25million for him which had been rejected, demonstrating his importance in the English side.
In 2001, Harry helped Leeds reach the last four in the Champions League, which was the furthest the club had gone in the competition.
Both Leeds United and Crawley Town have had some dark days in their club, but nothing can compare to the process of administration.
Leeds had racked themselves further and further into debt after their successful period in Europe, and their high league finishing. As they couldn’t pay off their debt in the season starting 2001, they started losing some of their top players due to wage cuts. It came after they finished fifth in the league and had lost their income from European competitions.
Their debt had started off at around £9million after the European exit and had then almost owed up to £120million after four years. They had been relegated from the Premier League in 2004 for the first time since the competition’s inception. Just two years later in 2007, still in the Championship, the club voluntarily went into administration - relegating them to League 1, the first time the club have gone into the third tier of English football.
2007 was not a good year for Crawley either as they went into administration in June that year. In March the players had to take a 50% wage cut resulting in the entire squad to be sold. They were docked points and the end of the season, and also docked six points at the start of the next season and fined £10,000.
Sanchez Watt had his youth career growing up in the arms of Arsenal. He signed his professional contract for the club in 2009 for 4 years. Although, he didn’t have a single appearance for the Gunners and instead had been loaned out to 5 different clubs. Two of the five being Leeds United and Crawley Town, scoring once for Leeds and twice for Crawley.
The 29-year-old signed for Crawley on a permanent deal in 2016 but had left when the season finished after just having two miserable appearances. A lot of injuries have not helped his case, stopping him from having the potential he had from his England youth career. He now plays his Football in the conference leagues, making appearances for clubs such as Billericay Town, Hemel Hempstead Town and Wealdstone FC. Totalling 10 different clubs in his professional career.
Dominic Poleon had an indecisive youth career, playing in Chelsea’s, Southend’s and Leeds’ academies. Similar to Watt’s move to Leeds, Poleon joined in 2012 when Leeds were in the Championship and netted three goals in 36 appearances for the club.
Following good recommendations from the youth and reserve teams, Poleon had some big game opportunities including games against Leicester City, Watford, Nottingham Forest and Hull City.
The 27-year-old’s main career setback was also a number of injuries. Still at a young age, Poleon signed for Crawley Town in 2018. He scored six goals for the club in 35 appearances but had left for Newport County at the end of the season.