I agree with Crawley Town manager Gabriele Cioffi that the results of pre season friendlies are not the be all and end all. Nevertheless it would be nice to see some wins that suggested the preparations were on the right track.
The Reds, boosted by some new signings, fought back splendidly a week ago and lost only by the odd goal in five against Championship club Swansea City. On Friday evening Premier League Brighton & Hove Albion triumphed only by a late penalty but 18 hours later it all fell apart.
In a carnival atmosphere at Horsham’s new Hop Oast ground the Hornets, just promoted to three tiers below Crawley, eased to a comfortable 3-1 victory that showed the squad, without many regulars, is simply not deep enough. I reckon the problem lies in the name.
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Once again the players’ names were not shown on the backs of their smart blue and white shirts but in addition six of them were named Triallist (in true Scottish League fashion). I don’t imagine the club will be desperate to chase any of them with a contract.
Happily not everybody disappointed. For me Josh Doherty has the look of the club’s most improved player since the last campaign. Filipe Morais looked back to his best and perhaps he has been worried about any prospect of returning to Bolton Wanderers.
I liked the look of central defender Jordan Tunnicliffe. He always seemed to have time to play and showed good defensive judgement. Quite why he was only allowed an hour on the pitch is not a question I can answer.
Reece Grego-Cox took his goal nicely and Josh Payne and George Francomb looked comfortable in the middle of the park but it was upfront that we again disappointed. Ollie Palmer should have done better against Isthmian League opponents but around him the few goal attempts we did muster usually only provided catching practice for the home keeper.
It was still an enjoyable game to watch, more so than the rather tense affair against Brighton against whom we never shine. The goal chances were limited but ours were as good as theirs and the scoring problem that affected us last season remains. That shortcoming is a pressing problem for the management.
Ashley Nadesan is recovering from injury and Dominic Poleon is rumoured to have gone AWOL. The names Ibrahim Meite and Ricardo German no longer seem to figure in the club’s plans and we must ask simply what is going on. Our club is well known for being family friendly but has not featured widely in the realm of club politics and nor should it.
One further question might be to ask when was the last time Crawley Town played in front of 4985 spectators in one twenty four hour period. Let’s hope lots of them come back again.