Crawley boss hopes Leeds are on the wrong end of another FA Cup upset

Ed Elliot, PA
·3-min read

Crawley boss John Yems insists he would not be surprised to see Premier League side Leeds added to his club’s lengthy list of cup scalps.

Marcelo Bielsa’s men travel to Broadfield Stadium on Sunday afternoon attempting to avoid an FA Cup third-round upset.

The Sky Bet League Two hosts have sprung a series of shocks against teams from higher divisions during the past decade, while 1972 cup winners Leeds have suffered recent embarrassment against lower-league opposition.

Yems has the in-form Red Devils in promotion contention on the back of a nine-game unbeaten run and has urged his players to play without pressure as they seek to secure a headline-grabbing result.

“Me personally, having been in the game as long as I have, nothing ever surprises you,” said the 61-year-old when asked about the prospect of a giant-killing.

Crawley Town v Newport County – Sky Bet League Two – The People’s Pension Stadium
Crawley have been on a good run in League Two (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

“You shouldn’t be expecting anything to surprise you. It all depends on who fancies it on the day, whether the wind is blowing in the right direction.

“There are all sorts of things that can happen and you just hope it falls in your favour, rather than the opposition’s.

“We’re not going to play Leeds every week – you don’t play Premier League sides every week – so what is there to lose? You can only gain from it.

“We want to be in the game as long as we can be and we won’t be sitting back, I can assure you of that.”

Crawley, who sit sixth in the fourth tier, have knocked out the likes of Derby, Bristol City, Bolton, Ipswich, Norwich and Stoke in recent cup competitions.

Leeds, meanwhile, crashed out the FA Cup at non-league Histon in 2008 and have since fallen victim to Newport, Sutton and Rochdale.

While Yems wants his team to have a fearless approach, he is also wary of the dangers posed by the expansive style of the illustrious visitors from West Yorkshire.

“You’re playing a Premier League side that’s steeped in tradition, steeped in good players and to be on the same pitch as them is something you can learn from, without a shadow of a doubt,” he said.

“If they attack like they do sometimes, we’ll be hiding behind the settee!

West Bromwich Albion v Leeds United – Premier League – The Hawthorns
Leeds do not look out of place in the Premier League (Tim Keeton/PA)

“They’ve been playing against Premier League sides and they’ve been playing against good players and they’ve been playing against different systems.

“They haven’t done it against sides at our level and we haven’t experienced it, so it’s in the lap of the Gods.”

While coronavirus restrictions will prevent fans from attending, the tie will be broadcast to a national television audience.

Crawley’s 15-goal top scorer Max Watters, who is a doubt for the game due to a hamstring problem, is already attracting attention from bigger clubs and Yems is unconcerned about his players putting themselves in the shop window.

Crawley Town v Newport County – Sky Bet League Two – The People’s Pension Stadium
Max Watters (right) is in good form (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

“If we lose them it means they have and we have done a good job on them,” said Yems.

“If they can make a living, make a good career out of it then brilliant – we’ve got to go and find others who can replace them.

“That’s a compliment to the lads; they deserve to be touted if they are playing well.

“If they get the opportunities to move up, it’s good to see that there is some British talent moving up the ladder.”