After two home games in the space of four days, which has seen Crawley win and lose, I assess what’s been learned from the Reds’ hectic week.
Reds remain unpredictable
This one has not only been learnt today. Crawley have been unpredictable all season and have struggled to string together a run of wins this season. You never quite know what kind of performance you will get come matchday.
On the back of an excellent 3-2 win over promotion hopefuls Accrington, which came as a brilliant response to a 3-0 defeat to struggling Crewe, fans would have hoped for a consistent result and performance against Colchester.
However the Reds failed to provide this, falling to a poor 2-0 home defeat. The players were visibly down after the defeat, with captain for the day Mark Connolly saying he can’t put his finger on the reason behind the lack of consistency.
However, they bounced back once again with a hard fought win over Stevenage - a rare win over a fellow struggler. Despite playing with ten men for much of the game, with Josh Payne seeing red late in the first half, the Reds held on to edge past a Boro side who had limited chances despite their numerical advantage.
It was a much needed win and a display of great spirit and determination to bounce back after a poor defeat - something frequently said about Crawley this season.
They may be inconsistent and sometimes lacking quality, but Crawley’s resilience and determination this season cannot be questioned.
Despite a poor result against Colchester, which surely would have dampened the mood after a excellent away win at Accrington, the Reds picked themselves up to win just four days later, which leaves them as close to the play-off places as they are the relegation zone (ten points).
Kewell’s side started on the front foot and came close to taking an early lead with Roberts and Enzio Boldewijn the biggest threats, whilst also limiting Stevenage chances.
After eventually making the breakthrough through Boldewijn’s 33rd minute goal, they immediately had a man sent off with Payne punished for a mistimed, high challenge.
Fans may have feared the worst with over half of the match still to play, but Crawley remained the more threatening side and snuffed out everything that came their way.
Kewell not afraid to make a number of changes
Something else which was evident in the past two games, was Harry Kewell’s willingness to make changes. Despite the win at high-flying Accrington, the manager saw fit to make six changes to the side with Jordan Roberts returning from suspension, Kaby Djalo making his first league start of the season plus returns for Thomas Verheydt, Billy Clifford, and Moussa Sanoh.
Yusuf Mersin also deputised in the absence of injured Morris. Questions were asked about the wholesale changes, as the Reds were a long way off the quality and resilience they showed against promotion hopefuls Stanley.
Kewell again made six changes four days later for Stevenage, with Glenn Morris, Enzio Boldewijn, Dannie Bulman, Josh Payne, Mark Randall and Josh Doherty all coming into the side.
The ever-present Cedric Evina was dropped for the first time in the league this season after his costly mistake for Colchester’s first goal. By contrast to Boxing Day, these changes inspired a much-improved performance.
Enzio adds goals to his game
Since his arrival in May 2016, Enzio Boldewijn has provided pace and power into Crawley’s attack, but he hasn’t been a prolific scorer.
The Dutchman scored just five goals in 46 games last term, and had just one in the Reds’ opening 22 games this season.
However, he has added a further three in his last two appearances, leaving him just one short of last season’s talley.
He could even have had two against Stevenage, after coming close to a 17th minute opener, following a sensational run starting in his own half, but hit his shot straight at the keeper. The run deserved more, and his overall performance was well worthy of the rapturous applause he received upon his late substitution.
Fans will be hoping this fine goal scoring form continues, particularly as they have been lacking a prolific goalscorer since the departure of James Collins in the summer.
This week has proven the importance of Glenn Morris. The 34-year-old keeper has been terrific all season, never more so than against Accrington where his superb injury time save prevented his side from squandering a 3-0 lead.
However, he pulled up with a back complaint in the warm-up after being named in the line up to face Colchester, and his absence was felt. Crawley had gone into the game unbeaten at home since 17 October but lost this one by a comfortable scoreline of 2-0.
Albeit it being a bad defensive error from Cedric Evina, Yusuf Mersin was caught out of position for the first goal after just four minutes. Despite the stand in keeper not having an awful lot to do during the rest of the game, he was lobbed by in-form Sammie Szmodics for a second Colchester goal on 57 minutes.
It’ll never be known if Morris would have done any better, but his performances this season suggest he might have done and it paid dividends when he returned to the side against Stevenage.
He was mostly untroubled despite the Reds going down to ten men, but he once again proved his worth with an outstanding, vital late save to deny the away side an unlikely equaliser.