Crawley Town 2, Exeter City 0: Reds put in sublime second half display to defeat Grecians

Crawley Town defeated promotion-chasers Exeter City with a sublime second half display at the People’s Pension Stadium.

Saturday, 27th February 2021, 3:10 pm
Tom Nichols celebrates his penalty. Picture by UK Sports Images Ltd/Jamie Evans

Following a quiet first half, Crawley were given a boost when Tom Parkes was dismissed for a poor tackle on Nick Tsaroulla.

Soon after Nigel Atangana hauled Tsaroulla down in the box, with the referee awarding a penalty, which was converted by Tom Nichols.

Ashley Nadesan scored his first goal since the win against Leeds United ten minutes from time, as the Reds secured a valuable three points.

John Yems made three changes to the Crawley side that were defeated by Grimsby in midweek, as Nick Tsaroulla and Jordan Maguire-Drew were handed starts, while Davide Rodari made his full debut for Crawley.

Davide Rodari had a good chance to score on his first start for the Reds, when Nadesan did well to bring down Jack Powell’s quick free-kick, before laying the ball off to Rodari, who skipped past a few Exeter challenges, but his finish lacked conviction, as Jokull Andresson was able to make a comfortable stop.

Crawley had a huge chance to score at the start of the second half when a brilliant move saw Nadesan backheel the ball into the path of Tom Nichols who set up Jordan Maguire-Drew. Maguire-Drew teased in a sublime cross for the run of Jack Powell, but Powell’s header was straight at Andresson, who produced a great save to keep things level.

Then the Grecians were dealt a big blow, when Tom Parkes but in a dangerous challenge on Nick Tsaroulla, earning himself a red card in the 51st minute. The resulting free-kick caused further problems, with the ball eventually falling to Jake Hessenthaler, who turned the ball wide from close range.

A watchful George Francomb in action against Exeter City. Picture by UK Sports Images Ltd/Jamie Evans

The Reds were putting stern pressure on the Grecians, as they were camped outside the Exeter box, with Hesketh’s cross-shot drawing a save from Andresson, as the Reds started to dominate.

Crawley then had the chance to score from the spot, when Tsaroulla turned Nigel Atangana, and was dragged down in the box. Nichols stepped up, and coolly rolled in against his old club, having missed two penalties before today. Crawley’s dominance finally paying off, as they took the lead in the 62nd minute.

Maguire-Drew was proving to be a handful for the Grecians defence, as he weaved into the box, before his low drive was well held by Andresson.

The game was wrapped up later on when some magnificent individual skill from Nichols saw him skip past an Exeter challenge before his cross-shot was poked in on the goal-line by Nadesan to seal the deal in the 83rd minute.

Crawley: Morris, Francomb (Davies 62’), McNerney, Powell, Nadesan, Nichols, Tunnicliffe, Tsaroulla (Tilley 62’), Maguire-Drew (Sesay 85’), Rodari (Hesketh 45’), Hessenthaler

Exeter: Andresson, Caprice, Sparkes (Page 80’), Taylor (Randall 80’), Seymour (Atangana 52’), Collins, Parkes, Jay (McArdle 52’), Fisher, Sweeney (Key 70’), Hartridge