FA Cup Match Of The Week: Torquay United 0-1 Crawley Town

16 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   January 29, 2011  |     18

When a non-league club gets as far as the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, the goodwill shown by supporters of other clubs often transcends league and occasionally even local rivalries. Not so this year. Crawley Town have an excellent chance of making the Fifth Round of the competition, but there is at best a feeling of ambivalence surrounding this FA Cup run. This, after all, is the club that spent more money on players during last summer than the whole of the division above it and is managed by a man that many feel should have been banned from the game for life.

As ever, there has been talk of giant-killing throughout the week but, in the case of this match, it doesn’t feel as if an away win would be much of a surprise. Torquay United fell out of the Football League in 2007 and spent a couple of years there themselves before managing to scramble their way back two seasons ago via the play-offs. They’re halfway down the League Two table at the time of writing, meaning that there are only a dozen or so league places between the two teams. There will be no “shock” result at Plainmoor this afternoon. Not that this is the narrative that Crawley want – they had the “Living The Dream” posters out this week, to which the natural reaction might have been, “Buying The Dream, more like”.

It’s a cold and blustery day on the English Riviera and play is held up for fifteen minutes on account of crowd congestion (or, as is pointed out to me, “it took longer than expected to get Steve Evan’s SHEER BRASS NECK through the gate”). The blustery conditions do not induce great football from either team, although Torquay, to their credit, do at least to put the ball on the ground whereas all the money thrown at Crawley Town seems to have bought the club is team that is a marginally more sophisticated version of John Beck’s Cambridge United team of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Torquay have the best of the opening chances and Danny Stevens has a shot that flashes just wide of Michel Kuipers’goal after a quarter of an hour, but it’s a poor match, full of unnecessary mistakes and occasional outbursts. Five minutes from half-time, though, Crawley take the lead with a goal copied word for word from one of Charles Reep’s manuals. Sergio Torres lumps the ball three-quarters the length pitch for Matthew Tubbs to drive the ball past the goalkeeper and in.

Things improve in the second half, as Crawley seem to settle and actually start playing some attractive football. Right on the hour, they are given a golden chance to wrap the game up when Chris Zebroski handles inside the penalty area for his troubles. Tubbs steps up with the penalty, but Scott Bevan reacts quickly and dives low to his right and save. Seven minutes later, they have a second chance from the spot after Lee Mansell and Jamie Cook get tied up in each others limbs. There’s a brief and rather unseemly row between two Crawley players over who will step up to be the plucky, underdog hero in the papers tomorrow. Craig McAllister finally wins the right, steps up and… misses.

As the second half wears on, though, a niggliness comes into Crawley’s behaviour that makes them even less likeable than they might otherwise have been. Defender Pablo Mills is booked and turns his back on the referee in the way that a sulking teenager might as his name is taken. A shove in the ribs on a Crawley player in his own penalty area (which ends in said player on the floor clutching, you guessed it, his face) leads to a bout of pushing and shoving, and a second yellow card for Crawley’s Dean Howell, who has been playing like the bastard son of Steve Bruce and a combine harvester. For the first time this afternoon, a previously toothless looking Torquay attack starts to look like doing something. A speculative shot from an angle bounces over off the top of the crossbar, and Torquay now play with a bit of urgency, but Crawley hang on reasonably comfortably to edge through the Fifth Round of the competition.

There will, however, be little cheering outside the Crawley area and few well-wishers sending them all the best as they prepare to see if they can become the first non-league side in modern times to get as far as the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. This is the cost of their largesse and the cost of the continuing involvement at their club – in a managerial position – of somebody that should have been banned for life from football for his systematic cheating at a previous club. The crocodile tears that he wept in court to keep himself out of prison have been replaced over the years with a lack of humility or grace that is an insult to those that he left behind at Boston United to pick up the shattered pieces of that club. That his team should have put in such a bullish performance this afternoon seems to indicate that he is building a team in his own image, and that is quite dispiriting, if you stop and think about it for a moment.

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Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

  • January 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Dermot O'Dreary

    Bottom line is, most football fans don’t like bent clubs.

  • January 29, 2011 at 10:17 pm


    It’s easy to dismiss Crawley in a way you’ve done at the end of your second paragraph but people often forget that money doesn’t necessarily buy you success (Man City? Chelsea and Champions League?). There still must be some kind of nous and football knowledge. Although he does seem an unpleasant man, Steve Evans is a potent manager and beating a Championship side is a huge achievement. Still, it will be funny to see them in the Ryman League when their mysterious financial backers back out.

  • January 30, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Johnny C

    No money doesn’t always buy you success but the Fat Fraud has only ever succeeded when he has had the budget of the league above.

    Believe you me Maliniok there wasn’t much nous shown when McCheat was managing Boston in League Two, on the same budget as everyone else. Yes he can motivate some players (though not all) but doesn’t haven’t a clue tactically.

    And he still hasn’t apologised for almost ruining my club. For once come on Man United!

  • January 31, 2011 at 3:05 am

    Micky F

    Thank god for an article written by someone who knows the real Crawley FC and not some hack from the tabloids spinning the usual Giant-killers rubbish.

    Mind you I’d be happy to see them go all the way to Wembley if it means they lose their focus on the league and end up finishing 2nd to Luton or Wimbledon!

  • January 31, 2011 at 2:53 pm


    LOL at “a second yellow card for Crawley’s Dean Howell, who has been playing like the bastard son of Steve Bruce and a combine harvester.”

  • January 31, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Bath City fan

    It is very simple:
    1. Evans is a convicted fraudster who should have gone to jail. Him being in charge of any football club is akin to a paedophile being in charge of a children’s nursery.
    2. If the newish owners are so squeaky clean, why did they keep on both Evans and also the chairman, who was known for backing the previous owners, the Majeeds, at least one of whom is a guest of Her Majesty? Why did the criminal Majeeds appoint Evans, do you think?
    3. Non-league fans will always, even if grudgingly, support another non-league club when they get a slice of luck like this draw. No-one is supporting Crawley this time.
    4. Crawley are not the problem. It is solely Evans.

  • January 31, 2011 at 10:21 pm


    But surely some journos are investigating beyond the glamorous front portrayed by Crawley? Will it actually unravel? Sharewatch – Media Square plc (Bruce Winfield COO) currently trading at 52 week low, and what is the connection between the club and Prospect Estate Holdings, these days?
    http://www.companiesintheuk.co.uk/ltd/prospect-estates-holdings. The Registered Office looks, well, unsurprising.

  • January 31, 2011 at 10:58 pm


    I’m on the case, Dave but, at present, I’m uncertain that I (as a non-professional and therefore short on time and resources) will be able to get to the exact bottom of it.

  • February 1, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Dermot O'Dreary

    “But surely some journos are investigating beyond the glamorous front portrayed by Crawley?”

    Don’t think so. Far more (e.g. Ivan Speck of the Daily Mail) are far more interested in putting their names to the regurgitation of PR puff pieces – ideal for the lazy, third-rate journalists that seem to make up the vast majority of people paid for “writing” about football these days.

    The likes of David Conn might be interested at some point but in truth these writers have probably got far bigger stories on the go at the moment than looking into a bent non-league football club.

  • February 1, 2011 at 10:14 am


    It’s a quaint irony that Crawley’s recent success and the publicity it has attracted may prove to be their undoing.

    Isn’t football great?

  • February 1, 2011 at 10:31 am


    Dave, it’s much worse than just a 52-week low.

    Media Square lost £25m on a turnover of £47m last year!


    It makes you wonder just who Bruce Winfield has been forced to get into bed with in the Far East…

  • February 1, 2011 at 10:54 am


    Worst draw possible really. While I hope they get smashed by Man Utd, they’ve still ‘won’ thanks to the massive gate receipts they’ll drag in. The best we can hope for is a vastly reduced turnout from the Utd fans.

    As another has said though, Evans taking charge of a side in League 2 with a League 2 budget was a different kettle of fish and he was found wanting. Added to that, he seems a throughly, throughly unpleasant man.

  • February 3, 2011 at 10:52 am


    Why let facts get in the way of a good story eh?! No mention of Torquay getting away with some heavy tackling (no.4 Ellis constantly kicking Tubbs)in the first half unpunished by the referee, the groundsman “tending” our area during warm up but not Torquay end, Howell booked for a Torquay player slyly kicking the ball away….. Even your mention of our goal is tinged with dislike (should we never be allowed to play a long ball?, even though in this case it was Danny Bulman and was from in the centre circle and not lumped 3/4 the length of the pitch). I could go on, but does anybody want the truth, much more fun to spout half truths,lies disgusting abuse(as at Luton when all manner of disgusting abuse was thrown at our bench) all of which makes you no better than the person you accuse (who isnt universally loved at Crawley but has spent wisely on good players and despite what you and Chris Coleman want to believe, play good attractive football, did anybody see us outplay Derby?). I have no expectation that this moral crusade against one club will end, but all the bigots should just look at themselves and their own clubs to see that they are all squeaky clean, never play the long ball, never shirt pull, kick the ball away, turn their back on the referee!!?(straight out of Chris Colemans repertoire that one)and never in their history made a financial mistake. Your attempts to lessen the joy of many young kids (who I see bemused by all this hatred of their team) and true fans, will hopefully come home to haunt you all in years to come.

  • February 3, 2011 at 12:38 pm


    “Your attempts to lessen the joy of many young kids (who I see bemused by all this hatred of their team)”

    Maybe if they bothered to read articles like this they would understand the dislike of Crawley?

    Just a thought Mickf.

  • February 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Dermot O'Dreary

    “Your attempts to lessen the joy of many young kids (who I see bemused by all this hatred of their team)”

    That’s the same sort of crap you get from the Franchise apologists. Besides, I very much doubt any of them are aware of it. if you’re so concerned though, why don’t you explain to them that it’s because most football fans hate bent football clubs and Steve Evans?

    “disgusting abuse(as at Luton when all manner of disgusting abuse was thrown at our bench)”

    Really? First time that’s been mentioned, and let’s face it, Fatso isn’t exactly shy about pointing his podgy, tax-dodging fingers if he thinks he can get someone else into trouble. He didn’t even bother to get his puppet at the Non-League Paper to make it headline news (or even mention it) the following week. So it didn’t happen, but clearly lying seems to be part of the Gatwick Rovers ethos from boardroom to (sparsely populated) terraces.

  • February 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm


    No one likes us and we don’t care!

    I’m not sticking up for Steve Evans but you show me a rich man who’s paid every tax he owes and I’ll show you a liar.

    Our last owners were dodgy as they come and ran us into the ground, we’re used to it. If we’re gonna go bang again at least we’re doing it in style.

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