Crawley Town Football Club created another special night of club history this evening as they saw off Premier League Fulham in the second round of the Carabao Cup. Tom Nichols gave the Red Devils the lead with a well-worked goal in the 16th minute. Kevin Betsy’s team only improved and doubled their lead in the early stages of the second half. Nichols turned provider as he laid the ball off to James Balagizi, who cooly slotted past Rodak in the Fulham goal.
Crawley created the first real chance of the match, and it came from the debutant Jayden Davis. The wing-back curled an inviting ball into the Fulham penalty area towards the head of Tom Nichols. The Crawley skipper was able to get a header on target, but it was straight down the throat of Marek Rodak.
The Reds continued to impress and, in the 15th minute, took a deserved lead. Jack Powell did ever so well to turn away from his man inside Fulham territory and find Nick Tsaroulla on the wing. The young Cypriot pulled the ball back to Nadesan, who in turn found Nichols, who took a touch and volleyed under Rodak.
The Broadfield Stadium was filled to the rafters and was sent into disarray when Nichols gave the Reds the lead. Kevin Betsy’s men looked confident in possession and were playing some very good football.
The Premier League outfit still looked dangerous and earned themselves a very good chance in the 26th minute. Tom Cairney burst forward and was brought down on the edge of the Crawley box. The Fulham skipper took the following set-piece himself but failed to hit the target.
James Balagizi almost doubled Crawley’s lead on the stroke of half-time after he linked up well with Nadesan and Nichols. The Liverpool loanee burst into the box but had his eventual effort saved by Rodak.
Crawley did enough to see the half out and take the advantage into half-time.
The Red Devils came flying out of the blocks at the start of the second half and were putting the Premier League side under some immense pressure. This paid off as Balagizi was able to double Crawley’s lead in the 49th minute. Crawley’s pressure caused a number of poor passes from Fulham, as Jack Powell was able to intercept. The midfielder picked out Nichols, who calmly slid the ball to Balagizi and the Liverpool loanee tucked the ball past Rodak to send the terrace into raptures.
Fulham were still creating chances and had a really good opportunity to pull one back in the 63rd minute. Harry Ransom conceded a free-kick wide on the right-wing. Cairney’s left foot would allow a fast in-swinging cross towards Addai, which would have put the Crawley defence under real pressure. Fortunately for Crawley, the Fulham skipper’s effort was blocked by the first man.
Nadesan had a chance to make it 3-0 but was denied by the feet of Rodak in the 80th minute. A set piece was worked back into the box, which resulted in the ball falling loose to Nadesan. The striker took a touch and fired a shot at goal, but the Fulham goalkeeper was equal to the effort.
The Reds survived a lengthy deal of stoppage time to claim an outstanding win and dump a Premier League side out of the competition. Kevin Betsy’s side awaits the draw to find out their third-round opponents, which takes place on Wednesday evening.
REDS XI: Addai, Davis (Adebowale 87’), Johnson, Ransom, Ogungbo, Tsaroulla (Omole 46’), Hessenthaler, Powell, Balagizi (Marshall 90+3’), Nichols (Wells 77’), Nadesan (Bremang 87’)
Attendance: 5577 (1338 away)