United given devil of a time by Crawley

Manchester United 1 Crawley Town 0: Woodwork rescues Ferguson's men as Brown header ends dream run of plucky non-Leaguers

After a week in which an FA Cup tie between two Premier League clubs attracted an attendance of under 8,000, the competition badly needed some romance, not least because new sponsors have to be found for next season.

Crawley Town of the Blue Square Premier brought more followers than that here for their evening out with the second richest club in the world and romance endured for the whole 90 minutes of a date from which they could take far greater satisfaction than their hosts.

"Credit to them, they deserved a draw for their commitment in the second half, when we weren't at the races and never had a shot at goal," admitted Manchester United's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. "We were second to every ball then, which was disappointing. Maybe some players don't understand what the FA Cup's about."

Maybe he should have fieldedmore of those who do. United, who have won more games in the competition than any other club, but been held by two non-League clubs, Exeter City and Burton Albion, in recent seasons, again sent out what was effectively a reserve team and almost paid a price despite introducing Wayne Rooney – largely in vain – for that second half. They had not threatened a goal before taking the lead in the 28th minute, when Wes Brown was left unmarked at a disputed corner, and in the last quarter of the tie were in greater danger of conceding than scoring again. Indeed, in added time, the substitute Richard Brodie headed over Anders Lindegaard and against the crossbar.

Brodie is the most expensive playerin the history of non-League football and the fact that Crawley were reported to have paid £275,000 to sign him from York City last year is one of the reasons they are so disliked at that level of the game. Yet the courage and resolution shown yesterday will have made them many friends and by August those qualities seem certain to be on display in the Football League, as long as fixture congestion does not unhinge their season.

"We were very, very unfortunate, so we go away disappointed," their manager, Steve Evans, said when he eventually appeared more than 90 minutes after the final whistle. "We thought we could beat Manchester United, and we've done our football club proud."

Brodie could not even win a place in Evans's starting XI, the visitors preferring to start with Matt Tubbs. Tubbs could not add to his 28 in the campaign, admitting "maybe we gave them too much respect in the first half", but he was an energetic presence. At the back the captain Pablo Mills and Kyle McFadzean limited the Premier League leaders to perhaps three chances in the whole game, and the left-back Dean Howell was ever willing and able to push forward.

He had done so twice, setting up opportunities for Tubbs and Ben Smith, before United scored in the 28th minute. Crawley claimed they should have been awarded a goal-kick rather than conceding a sixth corner, but Darron Gibson took it short and, receiving a return pass from Gabriel Obertan, crossed for Brown to guide a neat header inside the far post.

Rooney was brought on for Anderson, and United then had to take off both the Da Silva brothers, leaving Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea as their full-backs. Crawley grew bolder,as they had to, first pushing Craig McAllister a little further forward, then replacing him with Brodie to support Tubbs.

In the last 20 minutes they looked genuinely capable of an equaliser. First Brodie, pulling to the left, crossed and Smith dragged his shot wide from 10 yards. Tubbs attempted an overhead kick, but it flew over the bar and a free-kick was given for dangerous play. Finally, Brodie outjumped Rooney and football held its breath as the header came back off the crossbar.

Not quite the old Cup magic, but the 25-1 outsiders had produced a trick or two.

Attendance: 74,778

Referee: Lee Probert

Man of the match: McFadzean

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game