Crawley 0, Brighton & Hove Albion 4: Reds’ hard work not rewarded against Championship outfit

Beram Kayal openes the scorings for Brighton & Hove Albion against Crawley Town. Picture by Phil Westlake.
Beram Kayal openes the scorings for Brighton & Hove Albion against Crawley Town. Picture by Phil Westlake.
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Crawley Town produced a productive pre-season work out despite suffering a 4-0 defeat against Championship outfit Brighton & Hove Albion at the Checkatrade Stadium this afternoon.

Albion led 2-0 at the break thanks to a smart finish from Beram Kayal and an offside-looking Tomar Hemad goal.

But the south coast side did not have it all their own way in the first 45 minutes as the three in behind striker James Collins, Enzio Boldewijn, Jason Banton and Jordan Roberts, linked up well and kept Reds driving forwards.

The latter two testing Niki Maenpaa on a number of occasions, but Albion made their quality and build-up play count.

Within four minutes of the second half, Murray, who came on at the break in a total of ten Seagulls’ changes, marked his return to Albion by making it 3-0 as he outmuscled Reds substitute Josh Yorwerth to fire home.

Reds kept plugging away and had Maenpaa to thank for their clean sheet before Elvis Manu added a fourth late on.

Former Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal man Andre Blackman was the only trialist to feature in the starting line-up for Reds.

He was the only non-contracted player Dermot Drummy opted to start against the Championship outfit, while former Chelsea midfielder Billy Clifford was amongst the substitutes along with ex-Arsenal youngster Charlie Gregory.

There was again no Matt Harrold in the Reds line-up, but Yorwerth and Alper Tursin, who missed the Three Bridges game were on the bench.

For Brighton, new returning signings Steve Sidwell and the on loan Murray were on the bench.

The first chance went Crawley’s way on three minutes as the lively Roberts was the architect of his own chance, driving forwards and swapping passes with Boldewijn, before Manenpaa saved.

At the other end, a low Dale Stephens ball came off central defender Joe McNerney to find Hemed alone in the box, but off-balance, he poked wide.

Albion opened the scoring on 18 minutes with a goal of real quality. Rob Hunt’s ball into the box found Kayal and he dummied to sell Mitch Beeney and a defender, before rolling home into an empty net.

Reds kept up the pressure, playing some neat stuff as Banton had Maenpaa sprawling at his near post.

But Albion doubled their lead on the half-hour mark. A ball over the top saw Hemed finish past Beeney one-on-one despite looking to be in an offside position.

Reds made two changes at the break, Beeney and McNerney making way for Yusuf Mersin and Yorwerth and both had a baptism of fire.

Albion, who changed their whole XI at the interval, played the ball up field and Murray latched on, beat Yorwerth and fired into the roof of the net.

Reds again responded and Collins forced a smart save from Maenpaa, Smith was also denied by the stopper and Collins’ follow-up fell onto the roof of the net, while Banton also went close.

The home side gave Clifford and Arthur extra minutes, before the rest of the bench was used with just over 20 minutes to go.

But they couldn’t break down a resolute Albion back-line and at the other end, Manu closed down a clearance attempt from Mersin after a back pass and it rolled into the net with five minutes left.

Crawley: Beeney (Mersin 45); Young (Tursun 67), Connolly (Garnett 67), McNerney (Yorwerth 45), Blackman (Arthur 59); Smith (Tajbakhsh 67), Payne (Gregory 67); Boldewijn, Banton (Clifford 59), Roberts, Collins (Bawling 67).

Albion (1st half: Maenpaa; Hunt, Hall, Dunk, Bong; Murphy, Stephens, Kayal, LuaLua; Baldock, Hemed.

Albion: (2nd half): Maenpaa (Sanchez 67), Bruno, Dallison, White, Rosenior, Knockaert, Ince, Sidwell, Bjordal, Murray, Manu.

Att: 2,190 (965 away).

Referee: Tim Robinson.

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