Crawley Town may not fit the stereotype of plucky underdogs with their feisty Glaswegian manager and a spending power that leaves their League Two rivals in the shade but the Sussex club are developing quite a love affair with the FA Cup
As a Blue Square Premier League side last term they beat Derby County en route to the fifth round and a narrow defeat at Old Trafford. Twelve months later the last 16 beckons again for Steve Evans' men after Matt Tubbs' second-half goal earned the scalp of a Hull City side lying sixth in the Championship – precisely 45 places above them.
Evans had suggested before the game that that returning to the fifth round would be akin to "climbing Everest" and although Nick Barmby, his Hull counterpart, did him a favour by making seven changes from Hull's last outing, this should not detract from their achievement. "We have come and played the three strikers and been very attack-minded, and tried to take the game to them. We had some tremendous passages of play," said Evans.
Crawley's hero was Tubbs, scorer of their third-round winner against Bristol City and a hat-trick in the second round against Redbridge. His decisive strike, his 18th of the season, came 12 minutes after the restart when latching on to Sergio Torres's cleverly weighted ball down the left, he cut into the box where his driven low shot went through Vito Mannone, Hull's on-loan Arsenal goalkeeper, and into the net. "Tubbs has got a bit lucky when it goes under the goalie," said Evans but their luck was merited, Barmby admitting "the better team" had won.
Crawley took the game to Hull from the start, with Sanchez Watt, their new loan signing from Arsenal, given a roaming brief behind the front two of Tyrone Barnett and Tubbs.
The latter provided an early warning with an overhead strike over the bar. He and Barnett then drew saves out of Mannone before Watt wasted a headed opportunity from David Hunt's free-kick.
Hull had won their last three league games but looked lethargic. Crawley, by contrast, were playing with the confidence of a team with just one defeat in 21 and not until the 44th minute did visiting goalkeeper Scott Shearer have to make a serious save from Robbie Brady's 20-yarder.
Shearer made an even better stop after the restart from Tom Cairney's curling strike but Crawley soon came again. Mannone made a diving save from Pablo Mills' shot, then foiled Kyle McFadzean.
Evans' verdict was "we were disappointed not to win three or four" and they should certainly have added to their lead, Watt hitting a post with the goal gaping. Hull got no closer than substitute Mark Cullen's late drive, charged down by Mills.
Each manager had one of his backroom team sent off as tempers frayed on the sidelines with Barmby accusing "opposition staff of trying to get players sent off".
Evans, like his players, had the final word. "Nicky's an altar boy, is he? I don't think so. We've come here and outplayed his team."
Hull (4-2-3-1): Mannone; East, Hobbs, Cooper, Dudgeon; Evans, Cairney; Garcia (Cullen, 65), Brady (McLean, 46), King (Olofinjana, 65); Fryatt.
Crawley (4-3-1-2): Shearer; Hunt, Davis, Howell, Mills; Bulman, McFadzean, Torres (Neilson, 90); Watt (Akpan, 90); Barnett, Tubbs (Simpson, 87).
Referee: Steve Attwell
Man of the match: McFadzean (Crawley)
Match rating: 7/10
Hull City 0 Crawley Town 1 (Tubbs)