Crawley Town 1-2 Luton Town
Josh McQuoid’s last-gasp winner put the Hatters into Round Two of the Emirates FA Cup after a 2-1 victory at the CheckATrade.com stadium.
McQuoid took advantage of a missed-clearance from the home defence to slot in his second goal of the game after excellent work from substitute Paul Benson down the right-hand side.
Matt Harrold had earlier levelled the game from a corner, following McQuoid’s superb curling effort 10 minutes after the break.
The win gives the Town their second successive win, and their first in their history at Crawley after losing at the same ground a couple of weeks ago.
John Still elected to give Elliot Justham a start for the cup fixture, his first since 29th August, while Olly Lee came in for an injured Nathan Doyle for the Town’s other change since last Sunday’s victory at Dagenham and Redbridge.
And Justham was in the action early on when Rhys Murphy had two shots in as many minutes, both flying wide of the target as all the players struggled with the underfoot conditions in the opening stages.
Crawley were on top, boasting the chances in the first ten minutes, with Christian Scales and Roarie Deacon both wriggling through the Hatters defence, but the duo were both thwarted by Luke Wilkinson when in good positions.
The Town upped their game, and came close to opening the scoring when Jonathan Smith took aim from 25 yards following good build-up play down the left, forcing keeper Darryl Flahavan to tip round the post to keep the game at a stalemate.
That prompted the best spell of pressure from the Town in the opening half, with McQuoid and Wilkinson having efforts deflected out for corners, yet Crawley still held a threat.
The hosts perhaps should have taken the lead following a one-two from Matt Harrold and Jimmy Smith, yet the former could only scuff his shot wide when in a decent position in the penalty area.
Jack Marriott, up front on his own, was as determined as ever, and his endeavour almost paid off when he chased down what seemed like a lost cause behind the Crawley backline.
Marriott found Guttridge, who wrong-footed his defender before stroking the ball inches past the post for arguably the Town’s best chance of the first 45 minutes.
Deacon still remained a tricky problem for the Hatters to deal with, threatening on another two occasions, but he was unable to prevent the tie from being a goalless affair at the half-way mark.
The Town started in the ascendancy in the second half, and gained their reward through McQuoid’s wonderful effort 10 minutes after the restart. Marriott capitalised on a slip from home skipper Sonny Bradley before feeding Alex Lawless on the right wing, who in turn found McQuoid on the edge of the box, curling an effort which Flahavan couldn’t stop.
The Hatters looked the likeliest to get the next goal too, with Lee’s long range strike flicking Benson – who replaced Marriott just moments previous – before going wide.
But from the next attack of the game, Crawley were level. Lewis Young’s 50-yard run resulted in a set piece for the hosts, whipped in for Harrold to nod past Justham, despite the efforts of Sean Long on the goal-line.
The Red Army were stoked up with their equaliser, prompting another change from John Still as Danny Green took the place of Lawless for the final 20 minutes, almost linking up with Benson straight away, although the striker was unable to connect to a overhead kick attempt.
Both teams were limited to half-chances in the game’s finale, McQuoid looking to double his tally when cutting inside and shooting over, while Edwards repaid the favour at the opposite end to keep it at 1-1.
And just as the Town looked as though they may have to settle for a replay, McQuoid fired home his second of the game to win it. Benson’s hard work down the right led to him putting a ball in, which the Crawley defence could only fire against each other, allowing McQuoid to unleash a lethal finish to send the Town faithful into pandemonium behind the goal.
The Hatters, punished with late goals this season, were now rewarded a late strike of their own, and can eagerly await Monday’s second-round draw for the second successive season.
Town: Justham; Long, Griffiths, Cuthbert, Wilkinson; Smith, Lee, Lawless (sub Green 68), Guttridge, McQuoid; Marriott (sub Benson 60).
Subs not used: Tyler, Potts, McGeehan, McCourt, O’Brien
Attendance: 1,929, with 487 Hatters fans making the trip to Sussex.