LONDON: Fulham suffered an embarrassing League Cup exit as the Premier League side were beaten 2-0 by Crawley in a second round shock on Tuesday.
Marco Silva’s side are 83 places above League Two Crawley and beat Brentford 3-2 in the Premier League on Saturday.
But the Fulham manager’s decision to make 10 changes backfired badly at the Broadfield Stadium as struggling Crawley upset the form book.
Former Fulham striker Kevin Betsy, who has taken only a single point from his first five matches as Crawley manager, masterminded a memorable victory thanks to goals from Tom Nichols and Liverpool loanee James Balagizi.
The Cottagers joined Norwich and Leeds on the list of top-flight clubs who have suffered cup embarrassment at Crawley in recent years.
Silva handed debuts to Issa Diop, Marlon Fossey and 17-year-old academy graduate Luke Harris, while Shane Duffy and Kevin Mbabu made their first starts.
But Fulham fell behind with 16 minutes on the clock when Nichols took Ashley Nadesan’s pass and drilled a low left-footed drive across Marek Rodak into the far corner.
Just four minutes into the second half, Fulham midfielder Tyrese Francois conceded possession deep inside his own half and Balagizi seized on Nichols’ reverse pass to slot home.
Despite warnings on the public address system and footballing authorities threatening stricter punishments this campaign, many of the 5,000-strong crowed spilled on to the pitch in celebration at full time.
The Premier League clubs involved in this season’s European competitions have a bye into the third round, leaving the spotlight on Aston Villa, Everton and Leicester in the other second round ties.
Villa came from behind to spare Steven Gerrard’s blushes in a 4-1 win at Bolton.
After a frustrating start to the season and just three wins from 14 games stretching back to March, questions were being asked of Villa’s direction under Gerrard.
The Premier League side were stunned as Dion Charles gave third tier Bolton a 24th-minute lead, but Douglas Luiz levelled directly from a corner.
Danny Ings put Villa ahead with a 62nd-minute penalty and further goals from Lucas Digne and Leon Bailey eased Villa into the third round.
Everton are also off to a slow start in the Premier League and they only scraped into the third round with a 1-0 victory at League One side Fleetwood.
A first-half goal from Demarai Gray, playing after Tom Davies was injured in the warm-up, ensured Frank Lampard’s side progressed.
Leicester needed a 3-1 penalty shoot-out victory to avoid a shock defeat at fourth tier Stockport, who held Brendan Rodgers’ troubled side to a 0-0 draw.
Without a win in three Premier League games and with Wesley Fofana and James Maddison linked with moves, Leicester needed debutant keeper Daniel Iversen to make three saves in the shoot-out before they advanced.
Bournemouth edged past Norwich as Todd Cantwell missed the decisive penalty in the Cherries’ 5-3 shoot-out victory after a 2-2 draw at Carrow Road.
Adam Idah thought he had marked a return from a six-month injury lay-off with a late winner, only for Brooklyn Genesini to pull Bournemouth level in stoppage-time.
Wolves striker Raul Jimenez celebrated his opener by wearing an eye patch and pirate hook as his team beat Preston 2-1 at Molineux.
Southampton cruised to a 3-0 victory at Cambridge and Nottingham Forest beat Grimsby by the same score.
Crystal Palace won 2-0 at Oxford and Brentford eased to a 2-0 victory at Colchester.