When the teams were read out, and it became clear that Norwich had a completely new team, Crawley knew there was always a chance they could pull it off.
Norwich hit the post, and then the bar, but ultimately they came up short. Daniel Farke made 11 changes to the side that lost against Chelsea at the weekend and if Tuesday night acted as an audition for the new faces ahead of facing West Ham on Saturday, few can say they are in with a chance of landing the part.
‘You have to accept this, it happens in football,’ defeated boss Farke said. ‘I am so disappointed. In this moment it is not up to me to punish the players for a lack of quality.’
Bez Lubala, the scorer of the only goal, celebrates at full-time after Crawley beat Norwich
The top-flight side were sent crashing out of the Carabao Cup at the People’s Pension Stadium
Crawley fans celebrate after watching their side reach the third round for only the second time
Crawley: Luyambula; Sesay (Francomb 87), Tunnicliffe, Dallison, Doherty; Bulman, Ferguson; Grego-Cox, Camara (Morais 37), Lubala; Palmer
Subs not used: Morris, Galach, Young, Nadesan, Nathaniel-George
Goal: Lubala 17
Booked: Luyambula, Bulman, Grego-Cox, Camara
Manager: Gabriele Cioffi
Norwich: Fahrmann (GK); Byram, Zimmerman, Klose, Heise; Vrancic, Amadou, McLean; Roberts, Srbeny, Idah
Subs not used: Krul, Aarons, Godfrey, Leitner, Lewis, Buendia, Stiepermann
Manager: Daniel Farke
Referee: John Busby
Crawley, sat 62 places below Norwich in the football pyramid, were penned back early and had 20-year-old goalkeeper Michael Luyambula to thank for first denying Kenny McLean’s strike, and then Phillip Heise’s powerful drive inside the area.
But the hosts just needed to stay in the game and the home groans soon transformed to cheers when Bez Lubala found the net – with the help of a fortuitous deflection off Norwich striker Adam Idah.
Lubala has four goals from the opening five league games and felt confident enough to try his luck on the edge of a crowded box after a well-worked short corner routine with team-mate Nathan Ferguson. Ralf Fahrmann, in for Tim Krul, could do nothing to keep it out.
‘You need luck, of course,’ Crawley boss Gabriele Cioffi said. ‘The stadium was rocking, the first time I came here I had this vision. We can enjoy the luck until midnight and then it is back to it.
‘We are a small club, humble people but we can enjoy this, we would not be human if we did not.’
While chants of ‘we’re going to win the cup’ were a tad premature early in the second half, the home fans were going to enjoy their moment leading a Premier League side on their own patch.
Lubala celebrates after scoring an early deflected goal against Premier League Norwich
Lubala shot from outside the area and, via a deflection, it found the back of the Canaries’ net
New boy Lubala now has five goals in six matches for the League Two side so far this season
As Ollie Palmer, in ahead of Ashley Nadesan after a brace against Leyton Orient at the weekend, thought he had the second of the game just after the hour mark. Racing through on goal with a defender on his back, the striker was foiled from close range by Fahrmann.
It remained 1-0 but a smoke flare went off in the stand behind the goal and the Norwich goalkeeper must have been cursing his luck.
The Canaries did rally back, they had to given they were heading out at 1-0, and substitute Emiliano Buendia went closest when his strike rattled the crossbar.
Crawley were riding their luck but this was League Two against the Premier League – it was never going to be easy. Ferguson, having turned provider for the opening goal, almost added one of his own with 15 minutes left on the clock, only to see his low drive fall just the wrong side of Fahrmann’s near post.
Crawley fans celebrated their shock early goal with a red flare thrown down to pitchside
Norwich captain Timm Klose looked disappointed as he was taken off injured in the first half
Crawley striker Ollie Palmer celebrates the Red Devils’ famous win with his child at full-time
Norwich were desperate to avoid being the headline scalp. Farke stood dumbfounded when, with 10 minutes to go he was booked for dissent by referee John Busby. It simply wasn’t his – or his players – night.
Things appeared to get even worse when it was revealed that an initial assessment on Timm Klose, who went off in the first half after a nasty collision, has torn his anterior cruciate ligament and will likely miss the rest of the season.
His opposite number, an energetic Ciofi, who did not sit for the entire game, managed to haul his players over the line somehow, someway for a famous win.
‘I just can’t get enough’ by Depeche Mode was the chosen track of the night and if Crawley hope to keep this run to Wembley going, they best get used to this.