Crawley Town slipped to another defeat in League 2, losing 1-0 at home to Kevin Nolan’s high-flying Notts County, and failed to a register a single shot on target in the game. I assess what went wrong for Harry Kewell’s men.
Lack of a potent goalscorer
Despite Kewell possessing an abundance of attacking options, it is all too clear they are lacking a potent target man. James Collins was a huge loss for the Reds.
The striker was the top scorer last season by far, with a remarkable 20 league goals, and he is exactly the type of player missing from the current side.
Enzio Boldewijn, Jordan Roberts, Ibrahim Meite and Panutche Camara all offer blistering pace in attack, but don’t have the knack of scoring goals out of nowhere. They also lack Collins’ experience and maturity in front of goal which can pose a question to why Matt Harrold was also allowed to leave the club.
Struggling for chances
In stark contrast to the first few games of the season, where Crawley struggled to make the most of countless chances, the Reds are now struggling to create goal scoring opportunities.
With 0 shots on target against Notts County, the fans are becoming increasingly disgruntled, as this current problem is a more significant cause for concern than when they were failing to take their well-worked chances.
Kewell started with four natural central midfielders, in Jimmy Smith, Dannie Bulman, Mark Randall and Josh Payne, so creativity was an unexpected missing feature from the performance.
Too often, Crawley were caught out trying to pass their way through a stubborn Notts County backline, and more width was required to break down the defence which have now kept four successive clean sheets.
The Reds’ decision-making in the final third could also do with some improving. There were many occasions in the game on Saturday, where there were opportunities to create chances if the right pass was played at the right moment.
One moment which sticks out in my mind was in the closing minutes and Boldewijn had the time and space on the right hand side of the box to either get a shot away, or play a ball into his onrushing team-mates, but instead opted to switch it to Young, with the ball going out of play.
This was only one of many spurned opportunities to create, with Kewell’s side regularly taking too long to play a pass, make a cross into the box, or even take a shot from long when space opened up.
This could be put down to a lack of self-belief or confidence, which is something Kewell has in abundance and should be able to instigate into his side further.
Options offer hope
Things aren’t all bad for Crawley. The fact remains that the Reds have remarkable squad depth and have the quality needed to be successful. As Josh Lelan said, all that is needed is more consistency.
It must me noted that the team has constantly changed, showing that Kewell still hasn’t worked out his best 11, but injuries have played a part. After his match winning performance against Yeovil, Roberts hasn’t started due to injury and struggled to make a telling impact after coming off the bench against Yeovil.
The options he has may pay dividends when he returns to full fitness and starts up front once again alongside either Boldewijn or even Meite, who has made an impressive start to his loan spell at Crawley. Camara, another exciting talent, also featured on the bench against the Magpies, and Dean Cox will be eager to get back in the side, so there are numerous options available to Kewell as he continues to look for the winning solution, which has so far eluded him.
Another positive which can be taken from the game is the performance of loanne Ibrahim Meite from Cardiff City.
Fresh from scoring in his first league start for the Reds at Stevenage on Tuesday night, the pacey forward underlined his credentials once again with an energetic performance against Notts County.
He repeatedly had the confidence to take on his man, and linked up well with Boldewijn, as the Reds pushed for a goal. Kewell has said that it is still early doors and their sole aim is to fulfil their end of the bargain and make him a better player before his return to South Wales.
However, he must surely be very interested in keeping hold of the 21-year-old for at least another season or on a permanent deal if possible. This does appear unlikely, seeing as the striker only signed his first professional contract at Cardiff in January this year.