Crawley Town 2, Salford City 1: Hessenthaler header wins it for the Reds against League Two title favourites
Goals from Ashley Nadesan and Jake Hessenthaler as Reds come from behind to beat promotion favourites Salford City in home league opener.
Salford found themselves ahead early on as Ibou Touray did really well down the left-hand side to create space and put in a great ball, where Ian Henderson beat Tony Craig in the air and played a lovely glancing header into the bottom corner.
Crawley’s only outlet only on was Nadesan running in behind, however, they struggled to feed him any dangerous ball.
10 minutes in Crawley got their first spell of possession as they looked to get the ball down and play. This led to their first chance of the game as Powell played a dangerous ball across the six-yard box however Nadesan found his shot blocked well for a corner.
Jack Powell showed his passing range quarter of an hour in as he played a lovely cross field ball to Tyler Frost who won a corner on the left-hand side. The corner was headed clear but found Jack Payne on the edge of the box whose shot was blocked by the mass of shirts in the box.
Salford’s slick passing was on show as Crawley seemed to be chasing shadows in the midfield for parts of the first half.
For the first time in the game Frost’s skill was on show as he was played through by Payne before beating three men in the box and unfortunately finding his fierce shot blocked by a running Nadesan.
Salford’s quick passing through the middle impressed in the first half never using more than one touch to break through the Crawley lines.
They found themselves in on goal through more direct means as Ludwig Francillette was beaten in the air by Elliot who flicked it on for Henderson whose intended cheap was easily gathered by Morris.
Crawley found a rare chance in the first half through ferry who made a good run down the left flank however his cross was too high for everyone and trickled out for a throw in to Salford.
Crawley took advantage of Salford missed chances and Salford could’ve scored twice first as Henderson and Elliot both had chances to score but Morris did well to make a fine double save. The Reds punished this as they broke quickly and George Francomb put in a perfect ball to Nadesan who slotted excellently below King.
Crawley nearly had a second as Nadesan did tremendously well down the right to pace past his man before pulling back to Frost who’s whipped effort went just over the crossbar.
Crawley came alive in the last moments of the first half as alternate crosses from Frost and Ferry whizzed just over Nadesan’s head.
Salford looked to pile on the pressure early in the second half with a succession of corners which led to nothing.
Tom Dallison nearly found his name on the scoresheet as he made a rare venture down the left flank before chopping inside and firing his shot into the side netting, half the fans in the box seemed to think it was in.
Once again Crawley looked for a goal as Ferry played a lovely floated cross to the back post but Frost found his header back across goal drop just wide of the post.
At the hour mark Crawley were really piling on the pressure as there was a battle in the box but neither Frost nor Nadesan could get a shot away. Another well-paced cross from missed everyone and nearly found its way into the bottom corner.
Francomb and Powell were causing issues down the right with slick passing. Francomb’s ball 65 minutes in just behind Appiah who could only flick it on.
Salford looked to struggle to get the ball down and play in the second half as Crawley used an effective high press. There first half chance coming when McAleny turned Powell neatly on the half and carried it well before his shot cleared the stand.
70 minutes in the game seemed to drop a bit as both sides showed signs of tired passing. However, the Reds took advantage of this as they took a freekick quickly to play the ball long across to Nadesan on the left. The ball worked its way to the overlapping Francomb who played an excellent cross to the far post, Hessenthaler got up very well and played a looping header which went in off the back post.
Defensively the Reds’ looked excellent pressing high and pushing Salford back leading to them playing long often. In the air Crawley were excellent making sure to be first to evert ball.
With five minutes to go Powell was dispossessed by Wright who dribbled purposefully but once his pass was cut out and cleared.
Reds had a late scare as substitute Asante’s freekick went through the wall but was well gathered by Morris. Salford’s subs had a strong impact late on the pace of Asante and Wright causing plenty of issues. They seemed to get nervy late on losing the ball sloppily in bad positions.
Even in added time the Reds were chasing down every ball and making life really difficult for Salford who were trying to find an equaliser.