Drury and Simpson back as Crawley Town test their defence at Whitehawk

Crawley Town V ipswich (Pic by Jon Rigby)
Crawley Town V ipswich (Pic by Jon Rigby)

Andy Drury and Josh Simpson both made successful returns from injury as Crawley Town were held to a 0-0 draw away to Conference South side Whitehawk.

Last night’s friendly featured seven first team players in the starting line-up including the entire first choice defence minus the injured James Hurst.

The rest of the team were made up of triallists and youth players.

Lively former Aldershot youngster Fawodo Tope played nearly the whole game upfront having arrived at Crawley as a youth team triallist.

Tope had Reds’ best two chances of the first half, lifting an early effort over the bar and forcing Whitehawk keeper Richard Martin to make a low save. He also had a strike turned around the bar at the start of the second half.

Manager Richie Barker praised Tope but stressed the game was mainly about testing his defence and giving players game-time.

He said: “We wanted as many of the defenders to play as possible because you can only do so much in training but it’s always good to play in a game, get dragged about and work out how you are going to solve it.”

It was a game of few real chances from either side, with Whitehawk also impressing in the first half. Former Northampton striker Jake Robinson was denied by a point-blank save by Paul Jones and Charlie Henry put a long-range blast wide, having seized upon a poor pass by Simpson.

Whitehawk’s Henry had a goal disallowed for offside midway through the half.

Richie Barker made seven substitutions at half-time, taking off all his first team players and leaving triallists and youth players to complete the game.

Among those who came on were triallists Jacob Peake, a former Brighton player, plus James Stinson, from Australian football, who has also featured in the previous friendlies.

The home side put pressure on the young Reds defence after the break as Adam Proudlock and Patt Silva both made substitute keeper Jonathan Maddison work hard.

Barker added: “It was important for Andy Drury and Josh Simpson who had been injured for 10 days to start building up minutes again. They are fine with no major niggles or knocks.

“We’re making sure we build everybody’s minutes up. It’s not just about the starting XI. If they are called upon then they are fit and ready to go.”

REDS (1st half): Paul Jones, Mark Connolly, Connor Essam, Kyle McFadzean, Mat Sadler, Andy Drury, Josh Simpson, Bradley Isaacs, Jordan Adekunle, Scott Melville, Fawodo Tope.

(2nd half): Jonathan Maddison, Alex Malins, Ed Jackson, Malachi Robinson, James Stinson, Jacob Peake, Vince Smith, Alex Reid, Emmanuel Rowe, Abdul Adegbola