Meet Town’s opposition: Never-say-die Crawley fresh from an 11-goal thriller in cup
Football writer Carl Marston casts his eye over Ipswich Town’s hosts this evening, Crawley Town
Crawley Town go into tonight’s Papa John’s Trophy Southern Group B match on the back of conceding five goals in their last outing – which would usually leave a team at a low ebb.
But not in this case. The Reds’ remarkable 6-5 win away at Torquay United, in the first round of the FA Cup, was the most talked about result of the whole weekend.
How many times do you witness a 6-5 scoreline in your footballing lives? And a 6-5 away win at that.
It will certainly be a case of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’ this evening, as Crawley go back to the humdrum life of a Trophy group fixture, having already lost their first two in this group at the hands of Arsenal Under-21s (2-1 at home) and Gillingham (2-1 away) to prop up this mini-table.
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After the excitement of Sunday’s 11-goal thriller at Plainmoor, it will no doubt be a challenge for Crawley to summon up much enthusiasm for the visit of Ipswich, although a home win would give them an outside chance of making progress in the competition.
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This really was a remarkable game, not least because Crawley never got their noses in front until Ashley Nadeson bagged the all-important sixth in a 6-5 win at National League leaders Torquay.
The Reds were trailing 2-0, 3-2 and 5-3, but to their credit showed the resilience to keep going and so earn a place in round two.
Tom Nichols celebrated a hat-trick, the other goals coming from fellow attacker Max Watters, Jordan Tunnicliffe and Nadesan.
Delve a little deeper and you will see that Torquay were 3-1 up after 13 minutes of injury-time at the end of the normal 90 minutes.
The added-on time was due to Crawley stand-in keeper Tom McGill receiving treatment on the pitch for 18 minutes before being taken to hospital (he has since been discharged with heavy concussion), hence the unusual event of the visitors netting after 90+14 (Watters) and 90+21 (Tunnicliffe) to force extra-time.
FORMIDABLE AT HOME
Crawley have not looked back, since enduring a dreadful first week of the season featuring three straight defeats in three different competitions.
Losing at home to Millwall (League Cup) and Port Vale (league), as well as being defeated at Gillingham (EFL Trophy), all within the space of the first eight days, has proved to be just a blip.
The Reds have since won four of their five home league games, including thrashing both Tranmere and Morecambe 4-0, and also seeing off Scunthorpe and Cambridge. So the absence of supporters at Broadfield Stadium does not appear to be a problem.
INS AND OUTS APLENTY
The front door of the reception at Crawley Town’s Broadfield Stadium must have kept opening and shutting like no one’s business, in recent months.
In fact, no fewer than 14 new players have been welcomed into the building since the end of the truncated last season, with 10 going into the other direction.
Certainly Crawley fans, when they are finally allowed back into their ground when the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted (whenever that will be), will struggle to recognise their team.
Boss John Yems, who returned to Crawley after a brief stint as a joint caretaker (in 2016) following Gabriele Cioffi’s departure last December, has started again with a blank canvass and a bevy of new recruits.
The aforementioned strikers Nichols (from Bristol Rovers) and Watters (from Doncaster Rovers) have both already scored seven goals this season. Watters has netted his seven from just eight outings, having come on as a 73rd minute substitute at Torquay.
Defenders Archie Davies (Brighton) and Tony Craig (Bristol Rovers), two of the new arrivals, both started at Torquay, as did fellow summer signings Jake Hassethaler (from Grimsby), Tyler Frost (from Reading) and loan keeper McGill.
Others to have been snapped up since the end of last term include keeper Stuart Nelson (Yeovil), striker Sam Ashford (Hemel Hempstead) and midfielders Jake Hesketh (loan from Southampton) and Henry Burnett (ex-Southend).
Leaving for pastures new included the duo of Portuguese winger Filipe Morais and striker Ollie Palmer (to AFC Wimbledon).
Crawley won promotion to the Football League as Conference champions in 2011, under boss Steve Evans, and then won an immediate promotion to League One,where they stayed for three years until relegation in 2015.
The one competitive meeting between the two clubs ended in a 1-0 win for Crawley in a League Cup tie in 2014, via Izale McLeod’s extra-time winner.