Final score: Crawley Town 1, Bristol City 0 (FA Cup third round)
CRAWLEY TOWN 1, BRISTOL CITY 0
MATT Tubbs scored his 13th goal of the season to dump Bristol City out of the FA Cup at the Broadfield Stadium.
And if truth be told, the Robins could have no complaints after being out-fought by League Two promotion favourites Crawley.
The Reds clearly know a thing or two about giant-killing acts, having knocked out Derby County before giving Manchester United all the trouble they could handle in a fifth round tie at Old Trafford last season.
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Aware of the Sussex club's recent FA Cup pedigree, City knew they were in for a rough ride, and so it proved.
Crawley carried the greater threat throughout and twice hit the woodwork in the first half. They finally translated their territorial dominance into a goal in the 74th minute, former Salisbury striker Tubbs out-pacing a flat-footed defence to beat David James with an angled shot from 16 yards.
And to make matters worse for City, who have now failed to progress beyond the third round in the last five seasons, new signing Stephen Pearson was sent off after collecting a second yellow card six minutes from time.
If City's players believed they were in for anything other than a difficult afternoon, they were quickly disabused of of the idea as Crawley, top of League Two and beaten just once in 18 games, asked questions of the Championship side from the outset.
Direct and to the point, Crawley sought to hit Tyrone Barnett with long balls and play off the big target man, a policy that promised somer reward and clearly unsettled City's defence during the opening stages.
Barnett sent a header wide and Robins keeper David James came off his line to claim a dangerous cross from dead ball specialist Sergio Torres as the home side set a high tempo.
Organised and well-disciplined, City remained solid under the early barrage, repelled numerous crosses and long throw-ins and gradually established a foothold in midfield to relieve some of the pressure.
Crawley's approach may have been one-dimensional, but it proved mighty effective and the underdogs almost took the lead in the 23rd minute. Kyle McFadzean lofted a free kick towards the robust Barnett, whose header was cleared only as far as Josh Simpson on the edge of the penalty area. His low shot beat James and came back off the inside of the post, Ryan McGivern hacking the ball clear as it rolled along the goalline.
By contrast, City attempted to play their normal pass and move game and almost found a way through Crawley's two banks of four in the 34th minute, Albert Adomah jinking his way past two red-shirted defenders and picking out Nicky Maynard just inside the 18 yard box.
But City's eight-goal top-scorer, usually so deadly in these situations, fluffed his lines by steering his shot wide of the target from 15 yards out.
Undeterred, City continued to move the ball at pace, patiently waiting for an opening to present itself, and opportunity came knocking once again when Adomah found Martyn Woolford, whose first-time shot flew inches wide.
But Crawley's direct style was still causing the Championship side problems and 12-goal top-scorer Matt Tubbs seized upon a bouncing ball eight yard from goal to beat James with an angled shot that struck the foot of the post and bounced back out.
The second half followed a similar patter to the first, Crawley mounting an early assault and forcing a number of errors from the visitors. Having caused problems with his long throws, David Hunt set alarm bells ringing in the City defence when whipping the ball across the face of goal and drawing a last-ditch clearance from Cole Skuse.
Penned into their own 18 yard area, City were made to defend in depth as the home side forced a series of corners, one of which enabled Pablo Mills to direct a header straight at James. Dean Howell then slung over a deep centre towards the far post, where Barnett rose high to send his header looping over the bar.
Concerned that his team was coming off second best in a crowded midfield, City boss Derek McInnes withdrew Neil Kilkenny and sent on David Clarkson shortly after the hour mark. He then introduced Yannick Bolasie at the expense of the somewhat subdued Adomah.
Crawley had been threatening a goal and it arrived 16 minutes from time. A straight ball played down the middle of the park split City's defence asunder and Tubbs, timing his run to perfection, took a touch before guiding his low shot between James and the far post to give the League Two outfit a deserved lead.
McInnes responded by throwing Brett Pitman into the fray in place of left-back McGivern for the final 10 minutes and Maynard went close to an equaliser when his dipping volley was deflected behind.
And Maynard had another half chance in injury time, Crawley keeper Scott Shearer spilling the ball and the striker sending his shot wide from the edge of the 18 yard box.
Crawley (4-4-2): Shearer; Hunt, Davis, Mills, Howell; Simpson (Neilson 90), Bulman, McFadzean, Torres; Tubbs (Akpan 86), Barnett (Akinde 90).
City (4-3-3): James; Wilson, Carey, Nyatanga, McGivern (Pitman 80); Skuse, Kilkenny (Clarkson 62), Pearson; Adomah (Bolasie 67), Maynard, Woolford.
Referee: Andy D'Urso (Essex)