In an outrageous game in Devon, the Reds won 6-5 after extra-time in arguably the most dramatic game in Reds history.
We fell two goals behind on two separate occasions but our fighting spirit kept us in it all the way until the final whistle.
The Reds began strongly and looked to take the game to the hosts from the outset. Ashley Nadesan and Archie Davies linked up well to win the Reds a corner in the opening two minutes. Jack Powell’s lofted cross was headed back across goal by Jordan Tunnicliffe, Tyler Frost looked poised to volley but Kyle Cameron got their first and cleared the danger.
The hosts responded quickly and forced Tom McGill into an early save. Cameron again involved as he looped a header goalwards, McGill read the effort well and tipped over the bar. Torquay came close again just moments later. Another corner was sent into the box which Asa Hall met with great power but Tony Craig was on hand to clear on the edge of the six-yard box.
United’s leading goalscorer Danny Wright was almost gifted a chance to open the scoring following a Reds goal kick. Tom Mcgill sent a ball forward which was met by a Torquay midfielder. The ball flew straight over the Reds backline which allowed Wright to go one on one with McGill. Wright took one touch to compose himself before volleying towards the far post but the ball trickled wide of the post.
The Reds then had a brilliant chance of their own as they struck the woodwork through Ashley Nadesan. Jack Powell whipped a dangerous freekick into the far post, Craig headed back across goal, Lucas Covolan in the Torquay goal looked to come and collect but fumbled straight into the path of Ashley Nadesan who blasted an effort onto the crossbar.
The hosts, however, continued to press and found themselves ahead in the 19th minute. Aaron Nemane latched onto a loose pass in the midfield and quickly found himself through on goal after beating Dannie Bulman for pace. McGill could do nothing as Nemane curled past him to put the hosts one up.
The Reds came straight back at the hosts and quickly made an opening. Jack Powell slotted in Nadesan who took the ball around Covolan while under pressure from the Torquay defence, Nadesan’s effort was blocked off of the line by Sam Sherring.
Torquay again soaked up the Reds pressure before mounting an attack of their own. Ben Whitfield decided to go alone and took the ball forward eventually reaching the edge of the Reds penalty area. Whitfield found himself in plenty of space which gave the winger time to cut inside and fire into the bottom corner to give the hosts a two-goal cushion.
The hosts continued to dominate pressure as Whitfield was denied by the woodwork on the stroke of half time. It was a brilliant solo effort as he used great skill to evade two Red bodies in the box and fire at goal, his effort crashed off of the crossbar and was swept away by the Reds defence.
The second half began in sombre fashion as Tom Mcgill dove in headfirst to clear a ball on the edge of the Reds penalty area resulting in a serious collision with a number of bodies. McGill received treatment for a lengthy period of time before being carried off the field on a stretcher. McGill was replaced by Stuart Nelson.
Nelson would immediately have work to do as the Reds conceded a freekick on the edge of the penalty area. Adam Randall drilled the freekick into the Reds wall. Another chance followed as Nemane squared for Wright but he scuffed his effort and the ball trickled wide.
After a slow period of play, the Reds sprung to life and were awarded a penalty. Ashley Nadesan was fed down the wing and did excellently to cut inside of two Torquay defenders which resulted in him being tripped as he entered the box. Tom Nichols stepped up and remained cool as he smashed the penalty down the middle to half the hosts lead.
Substitute Max Watters had a brilliant chance to equalise for the Reds in the early stages of the 18 additional minutes. Nichols slipped Watters through leaving him one on one with Covolan, Watters effort, however, lacked power and was saved with relative ease.
The Reds continued to press and throw everything at Torquay and eventually found a deserved equaliser through Watters. Tom Nichols once again linked up brilliantly with the striker, sliding in who Max one one one with Covolan. Watters did brilliantly to chip over the onrushing goalkeeper and level the scores.
Just minutes later the hosts retook the lead, Josh Umerah found himself with the ball at his feet three yards from goal following a cross which bounced through several bodies in the Reds box. The substitute could not miss as he looked to give the hosts a certain winner.
The Reds were not defeated as they kept on pushing and with what was almost the last kick of the game found an equaliser. Ashley Nadesan delivered a peach of a cross to the back post where an unmarked Jordan Tunnicliffe lashed home to send the game to extra-time. An unbelievable FA Cup tie in Devon.
The Reds shared the larger share of possession the first half of extra time but the hosts were awarded a penalty after Archie Davies was deemed to have pushed Umerah in the box. Asa Hall dispatched the penalty to give the hosts the advantage once again in the 102nd minute.
The Reds with all the work to do in the second half of extra time but just minutes into the second half of extra time the hosts were awarded another penalty. Tony Craig penalised on this occasion. Hall once again sending Nelson the wrong way.
But once again the Reds showed brilliant spirit as Tom Nichols notched one back following a corner. Pinball in the Torquay box gave Nichols enough room to lunge in and poke past Covolan to give the Reds a fighting chance.
The Reds once again showed brilliant persistence and determination and got a just reward for that as Tom Nichols made it 5-5 with just minutes to play. Sam Ashford did brilliantly to work the ball to Tarryn Allarakhia who picked out Tom Nichols at the far post as the striker headed past Covolan to make it all square.
The Reds then went on and completed the unthinkable, Tom Nichols playing a Pirlo Esque pass through to Ashley Nadesan, the striker took the ball in his stride and poked past Covolan to put the Reds 6-5 ahead with two minutes to play.
The Reds held on and sit in the second round hat, what a game.
Crawley: McGill (Nelson 64’), Davies, Tunnicliffe, Craig, Doherty, Hessenthaler, Powell (80’), Bulman, Frost (Watters 73’), Nichols, Nadesan.