Sussex

Crawley fans see narrow cup defeat at Manchester United

Young Crawley fans outside Old Trafford
Image caption About 9,000 Crawley fans were at Old Trafford

Thousands of Crawley Town football fans watched their team lose narrowly to Manchester United in the FA Cup after a long journey north from West Sussex.

About 9,000 fans of the Blue Square Bet Premier club saw the Premier League leaders win 1-0 at Old Trafford.

Crawley fans set off early on Saturday in 26 coaches organised by the club, with many others making their own way.

In the Sussex town, the borough council put up six lamp post banners along the Boulevard in support of the team.

The town hall had a large banner outside and a Crawley Town FC flag.

Hit the bar

Crawley were the first non-league team for 17 years to reach the last 16 of the FA Cup.

Victory would have made them the first team from outside the league to make the quarter-finals since before World War II.

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Media captionMost Crawley fans set off from West Sussex early on Saturday morning

But a goal from England international defender Wes Brown after 28 minutes gave 11-times cup winners Manchester United a 1-0 win, despite Crawley having much of the possession in the second half.

And the travelling Crawley fans saw their team hit the United bar in injury time through substitute Richard Brodie.

Before the game, Councillor Lenny Walker said the eyes of the world would be on Crawley.

He said: "We have also started discussions with the football club about a civic event or parade at the end of the season, to celebrate a fantastic year which will hopefully end with promotion to the Football League.

"Having a club in the fifth round of the world's greatest cup competition playing against Manchester United and - potentially - being a Football League club next season all help to shine a positive light on the town."

'Devastated'

Crawley Town manager Steve Evans had predicted a shock 1-0 win for his side before the game.

"We're devastated to go out of the cup but we have to live in the real world.

"We've gone out to the biggest club in the world," he said.

Crawley's mayor Lee Burke and MP Henry Smith were both at Old Trafford for the fifth round tie.

The club's website has has goodwill messages posted on it from supporters in Australia, the US, Italy and Poland.

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