Crawley boss John Yems delighted after FA Cup giant killing

‘Nothing beats winning, it’s the best feeling’: Jubilant Crawley Town boss John Yems can’t hide his delight after the League Two side’s 3-0 FA Cup giant killing of Leeds United

  • League Two Crawley Town knocked Premier League Leeds United out of FA Cup
  • John Yems’ side stunned Marcelo Bielsa’s men with a 3-0 victory on Sunday
  • The Crawley boss told his players to enjoy themselves after giant-killing 
  • REPORT: Leeds humiliated by Crawley in FA Cup third round

Crawley boss John Yems could not keep the smile from his face as he emerged from a jubilant home dressing room and confessed to his mistake.

‘I just got myself into trouble,’ said Yems. ‘Telling the boys to go out and enjoy themselves because of course you can’t go out at the moment.

‘But if you can’t enjoy nights like these what are you in it for? You’ve got to make the most of the moment. We all get knocks in football. You get a lot more bad times than good.

Crawley boss John Yems could not hide his delight after his side’s 3-0 upset of Leeds United

‘Nothing beats winning. It’s the best feeling, walking into the dressing room and seeing everybody happy. They deserved it.’

Indeed they did. There was nothing freakish about Crawley’s victory against Leeds. They resisted early pressure, almost scored before half-time through a Tom Nichols header and ran away with it after the interval.

Two goals inside three minutes by Nick Tsaroulla and Ashley Nadesan put them in control and Jordan Tunnicliffe added a third.

The League Two side stunned the Premier League outfit in a well-deserved FA Cup victory

There might have been more. Max Watters was twice foiled by desperate last-ditch blocks as he appeared set to extend the lead and, such was the degree of comfort, Yems was able to send on Mark Wright, the reality television star, to make his professional debut.

Wright, once in the youth ranks at Tottenham before making his name in ‘The Only Way is Essex’, is trying to earn a professional contract at the League Two club as part of a TV show.

Crawley staff lingered near the tunnel, clinking their bottles of beer as they agreed beating Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds was even sweeter than beating Derby County, 10 years earlier, to the day.

TV personality Mark Wright came off the bench for Crawley during their 3-0 win over Leeds

On the streets in the distance, cars honked their horns as they drove past the People’s Pension Stadium and supporters, having watched the game at home on TV, ventured out onto the streets to wave their scarves as the players left the ground.

This Sussex town, with its dependency for jobs on nearby Gatwick Airport, has suffered badly in the last 12 months.

It has been an emotional time and tears flowed in a post-match interview with Tsaroulla, scorer of a wonderful opening goal, his first senior goal after picking up a career wrecked by injuries sustained in a car crash.

‘I’m buzzing, we’re all buzzing,’ said Tsaroulla, who started out in the youth ranks at Tottenham and joined Crawley via Brentford. ‘What a team performance that was.

Staff agreed beating Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds was better than Derby win 10 years ago

‘I kind of just lost myself in the moment. It’s been a long, hard road for me. This was a great moment. I’m really proud. I’m getting a bit emotional now, it’s been a tough road. It means a lot.’

Tsaroulla collected a header from Nadesan, wriggled free of a couple of challenges in midfield, sprinted clear and applied a cool and confident finish, low across Kiko Casilla.

On the touchline, a cup of tea went spiralling through the air among the staff celebrations and soon they scored the second. Nichols released Nadesan and the striker crashed a fierce shot past Casilla, who ought to have done better at his near post.

Nick Tsaroulla netted a stunning goal after a long run to open the scoring for his side

‘The early goal lifted us in the second half and then the second changed the game completely,’ said Nadesan. ‘Out there, you couldn’t tell they were the Premier League team and we were the League Two team.’

It was Nadesan who scored the winner in Crawley’s remarkable 6-5 win against Torquay in the First Round, when they twice trailed by two goals but fought back to win.

From this point, Leeds seemed to have one eye fixed on the return flight out of Gatwick. Bielsa’s team never looked capable of forcing their way back into the game.

Tunnicliffe scored the third, pouncing on a rebound after Casilla made a fine save to deny Nadesan and lashing it high into the net before celebrating with an elaborate knee slide.

Jordan Tunnicliffe added Crawley’s third to put them in dreamland against the top-flight side

‘They tell me it’s the greatest day for the club,’ said Yems. ‘It’s the biggest team that’s been here, And to beat Leeds United in the way we did. Don’t take nothing away from them, they’re a good side but we had a plan.’

And what was the plan? ‘We went to church this morning and lit a few candles,’ quipped Yems.

The 61-year-old can be forgiven for revelling in the moment. He went for a job at Leeds, soon after he was released from the coaching staff at Bournemouth in 2018.

Yems was delighted to return to haunt the side he nearly joined as a coach three years ago 

He thought he had it but it turned out he didn’t and he had to be satisfied with returning to haunt them in the FA Cup.

‘We knew we had to make it difficult for them,’ said Yems. ‘Don’t get caught chasing the ball, don’t get mixed up in their game. We did that. We let them have it in front of us. The rest is history, so to speak.

‘It won’t sink in until we’re laying on a beach in the summer and people are reminding us what we did.’

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