Crawley go down 1-0 to Manchester United
Respectable score at Old Trafford for non-league Wannabe giant killers
No giant-killing for Crawley Town of the Blue Square Premier League, but no humiliation either as they went down 1-0 to Manchester United in their FA Cup fifth round tie.
Wes Brown headed the crucial goal on 28 minutes but thereafter United never looked like adding a second. As for Crawley, they competed manfully but rarely looked like equalising.
Only in stoppage time was United keeper Anders Lindegaard forced to make a save, tipping Richard Brodie's header on to the bar to save the blushes of the Premier League leaders. "There is no doubt a few players did not do themselves justice," said United boss Alex Ferguson later.
"I had no complaints in the first half, I thought we did okay - but we weren't at the races in the second. We were second to every ball. It was disappointing. We had some players who maybe don't understand what FA Cup football is like. For them, that is the biggest lesson."
Even the appearance after the break of Wayne Rooney failed to galvanise United, and well before the final whistle hundreds of hometown fans walked out in search of better entertainment than that provided by their team against a side of journeymen 93 places below them in the league system.
For Crawley, however, there was honour in defeat for the 9,000 fans who made the trip north. Far superior in their commitment, the Sussex side ceded nothing to their hosts in fitness and if anything looked the stronger team in the last quarter.
Twice they were awarded free-kicks in promising positions in the second-half but Dean Howell and then Matthew Tubbs shot high. Tubbs also attempted a Rooneyesque bicycle kick that might have threatened the United goal had it not deflected off Wes Brown and looped over the bar.
"It's a bit disappointing," said Man of the Match Fabio Mills later. "We could have made their keeper work more. The lads put in a great shift. But if we're going to go out then this is the best place. From the chairman to the staff to the management, it's been first class."
In other Fifth Round matches, Birmingham and Stoke both made short work of lower division opposition to ease into the quarter-finals. At St Andrew's, the Blues ran out 3-0 winners against Sheffield Wednesday with Jean Beausejour rifling home the first after just six minutes.
Obafemi Martins made it 2-0 to the Premier League side on 17 minutes and the tie was done and dusted eight minutes after half-time when David Murphy fired home.
Stoke hardly broke sweat in defeating League One leaders Brighton 3-0 with first-half goals from John Carew, Jon Walters and Ryan Shawcross wrapping up proceedings before the break.
Meanwhile in their fourth round replay, Everton thwarted Chelsea's ambition to become the first side in more than a century to claim three consecutive FA Cup titles when the Merseyside club came from behind to win on penalties at Stamford Bridge.
In what was a repeat of the 2009 FA Cup Final, neither side managed to break the stalemate in the 90 minutes of normal time but then Frank Lampard struck in the first period of extra-time.
The England midfielder latched on to substitute Florent Malouda's cross to put Chelsea in front but the Blues' celebrations were short-lived. With just 75 seconds remaining of the tie the Toffees were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Chelsea box.
Up stepped Leighton Baines to curl a beautiful left-footed shot over the wall and into the top corner of the net. With Chelsea having lost their previous six penalty shootouts, Everton fancied their chances of progressing to a fifth round tie against Reading but Baines had his spot kick saved by Petr Cech to give the Blues the advantage.
Nicolas Anelka then fluffed his penalty to make it all-square and when Ashley Cole sent his attempt over the bar it was left to Phil Neville to hold his nerve and send Everton through.
"I knew I was going to score, I knew where the ball was going to go - and that's half the battle," Neville said later, adding: "Out of the two ties with Chelsea, I think we just deserved to go through. This could be the springboard for us.
"We've set the standard today and we must not drop below that. There is still plenty to play for in the league if we pull our socks up." ·
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