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Walsall 2 Crawley Town 3: Scintillating Reds secure first Carabao Cup win in five years

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Crawley Town advanced to the second round of the Carabao Cup for the first time since 2014 after an exhilarating 3-2 win at Walsall this (Tuesday) evening.

Filipe Morais’ strike on 21 minutes gave the Reds the lead at half-time before a breakneck second half ensued. Tom Dallison netted his first goal for the club just three minutes into the second period before Caolan Lavery’s penalty immediately reduced the deficit.

But Ashley Nadesan, on his first start for the club since his transfer from Fleetwood Town in the summer, made it 3-1 to Crawley straight from the kick-off.

Lavery scored his second to make it 3-2 but the Reds held on to advance to round two of the 2019/20 Carabao Cup.

Head coach Gabriele Cioffi gave competitive debuts to keeper Michael Luyambula and forward Nadesan as the Italian made seven changes from Saturday’s 2-0 win home over Salford City. Club captain Jimmy Smith returned to the first team squad but had to make do with a place on the bench.

The hosts enjoyed the majority of possession during the early stages of the game and forced a number of corners. The best chance came on 12 minutes when Walsall’s Elijah Adebayo played in Josh Gordon but his shot was well blocked by Josh Doherty.

Crawley’s first sight of goal came on 17 minutes. Nadesan did well to beat a Saddlers defender before driving towards the byline. The returning forward did well to cut the ball back to Morais but the Portuguese midfielder was unable to keep his attempt down.

Morais only needed four minutes to make amends as he fired the Reds into the lead after scintillating build up play. Ashley Nathaniel-George sped at the Walsall backline and played an inch perfect pass to Nadesan. Crawley’s number ten expertly timed his run to get behind the Saddlers defence before squaring the ball across goal for Morais to tap home from three-yards.

Just after the half-hour mark and the Reds produced more good work going forward. Goalscorer Morais almost turned provider for Nadesan as the midfielder flashed a pass across the face of the goal which just evaded the onrushing striker.

Walsall managed to carve out a half chance on 37 minutes. Good work down the right from Cameron Norman saw the winger cross for Adebayo but his header was deflected out for a corner – which came to nothing.

Two minutes later Luyambula was called into action for the first time and the Birmingham City loanee produced a remarkable stop. Adebayo won the knock down from yet another Saddlers corner. Mat Sadler picked up the ball and let fly with a vicious drive, forcing Luyambula into a super save to tip the ball over.

Mere moments later Ollie Palmer did well to take the ball out of the night sky before unleashing a stinging first time volley that was well saved by Liam Roberts in the Walsall goal.

In first half stoppage time Panutche Camara had a great chance to double the lead. A cross from Palmer was cleared out only as far as the Bissau-Guinean, who was lurking on the edge of the box. Camara let fly with a cleanly struck shot but Roberts denied the midfielder with a marvellous stop.

The Reds began the second half with the same intensity that they finished the first. Just three minutes into the second period and Cioffi’s men doubled their lead.

A whipped Nathaniel-George corned found Tom Dallison completely unmarked at the far post and the defender had the easiest of headers to make it 2-0 to Crawley.

But Walsall struck back almost instantly. Sadler was brought down in the box and Lavery dispatched the spot kick despite Luyambula getting a hand to it.

And the scoring hadn’t finished as Nadesan bagged his debut goal in a breathless start to the second half. Straight from the kick-off the Reds raced up the other end as Doherty overlapped to play a brilliant ball in to Nadesan who tapped home to restore the two goal cushion.

Unbelievably Crawley had the ball in the back of the net for the fourth time on 61 minutes but Nathaniel-George was adjudged to be offside.

The Reds onslaught continued as Palmer did excellently to set up Nathaniel-George once more, but the flying winger bent his shot just wide of the Saddlers goal.

Walsall managed to get a foothold back in to the game on 71 minutes as Crawley were caught out by a quick Norman free-kick. The wide-man set Lavery free in the box and the Northern Irishman fired past Luyambula for his second goal of the evening.

With seven minutes of the game to go Reds supporters had their hearts in their mouths as the hosts struck the crossbar. After pinball in the area the ball fell to Norman but the winger’s strike scraped the top of the bar and went over.

Referee Carl Boyeson added five minutes of stoppage time to a thoroughly entertaining first half and the drama was not over yet.

Luyambula was called on to make a dramatic save at the death to ensure Crawley advanced to the next round of the competition.

Crawley Town: Luyambula, Francomb, Tunnicliffe, Dallison, Doherty, Payne, Camara, Morais (Ferguson 69), Nadesan (Grego-Cox 59), Nathaniel-George (Allarakhia 81), Palmer. Unused: Morris, Smith, Sesay, Galach.

Attendance: 2,451 (94 away)

Referee: Carl Boyeson

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Birmingham City recall goalkeeper from Crawley Town loan spell

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Crawley Town goalkeeper Michael Luyambula has today (Monday) been recalled by his parent club, Birmingham City.

Luyambula has been recalled by the Blues in order to obtain more game time this season.

The 20-year-old joined the Reds on a season-long deal on July 12.

Crawley would like to thank Luyambula for his historic performances in a Reds shirt, most notably against Walsall, Norwich City and Stoke City in the Carabao Cup.

The Reds wish Luyambula all the very best in his future career.

READ MORE Consistency is something rarely seen with the current squad – Crawley Town opinion | If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it – Crawley Town opinion | ‘We have got to dust ourselves down and get ready for next week’ – Crawley Town’s Sendles-White

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Consistency is something rarely seen with the current squad – Crawley Town opinion

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It was my fault last week for viewing the superb win against Bradford City as the start of Crawley Town’s recovery from a disappointing run of games.

I forgot that consistency is something rarely seen with the current squad. That failing is certainly a matter that concerns manager John Yems.

There is one aspect in which the Reds are reliable and the game against Walsall confirmed it insofar as it is easy to predict when their performance will fall short.

Put them up against a quality footballing side and they will deliver as the opposition brings the best out of them.

The Saddlers are a bread and butter side. They have too much quality to leave them vulnerable to relegation but lack that certain something that would make them promotion candidates.

They are a perfect middle of the table side which is just what we are.

The difference on the day was that Reds again lacked the belief in themselves that would allow them to get the better of an opponent that otherwise matched them.

The opportunities were there. Panutche Camara took his chance but Ashley Nadesan, who could have made it two nil, did not and Walsall’s defending ensured those chances were few.

Having edged the opening stages Crawley firstly allowed the home side back into contention and then started to struggle, perhaps surprisingly as the manager had made two defensive substitutions with half an hour to play. It was self-defeating as the busy Ollie Palmer was left without adequate support.

The matter of substitutions which I have criticised in the past has now also become a concern regarding team selection. How is it that we are only naming six subs when the squad is as large as it has been for several seasons.

The very late replacement of Nathan Ferguson just before kick off meant there were only five and that included the third choice goalkeeper.

Several erstwhile matchday first choices seem to have disappeared from the radar – Mason Bloomfield and David Sesay for example – whilst much touted new signings like Gyliano van Velzen don’t even get a place on the bench. At the same time the club remains tight lipped about “injuries” and has maintained its curious policy about releasing senior players on loan.

Whilst the players have shown just how great their potential is and how close they could be to fulfilling it I am getting concerned that all is not well in the dressing room. Maybe that was suggested by the manager’s angry post-match interview.

A little perverse comfort might be gleaned from the match itself.

Josh Gordon’s equaliser for Walsall was a very well taken goal and that was just a taster. Their 88th minute winner by Wes McDonald was arguably the Goal of the Day on a day which featured several excellent candidates for that accolade. Perhaps we should give the Saddlers due credit.

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If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it – Crawley Town opinion

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If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it was the supporters opinion on the coach as we travelled back from the game at Walsall.

Crawley were forced into making a change to the starting line-up after the warm up when Nathan Ferguson was replaced by Tarryn Allarahia, the only change from the team that beat Bradford.

The team were playing well and although Walsall were having most of the possession they were not causing much trouble to the Crawley goal. Glenn Morris was the busier keeper but again his dominance behind the Crawley defence made sure that nothing went passed him.

SEE ALSO ‘We have got to dust ourselves down and get ready for next week’ – Crawley Town’s Sendles-White | ‘You can see why certain players in this football club have seen certain managers off’ – Crawley Town boss Yems on Walsall defeat | Late stunner denies Crawley Town a point at Walsall
Until the 70th minute the Red Devils we in control of the game and leading with the solitary strike from Panutche Camara in the first half on 27 minutes. Crawley could and should have increased the lead with Tarryn Allarakhia strike from the edge of the area flashing past the post in the first ten minutes before our goal, then in the second half, Ashley Nadesan’s one on one with the keeper could have done better.

Had the team taken either of those chances then we probably would have come away with the three points and continued the unbeaten run.

On 70 minutes, manager John Yems decided to go more defensively and brought on Tom Dallison for Nadesan and George Francomb for Allarakhia which changed the formation of the side and from then gave Walsall the opportunity to push forward rather than having to defend against Crawley’s two strikers.

All of the forward momentum had vanished with both Josh Doherty and Josh Dacres-Cogley now being pressurised at the back by Walsall getting much more of the ball, we stopped doing what we had for the first 70 minutes in pressurising the player with the ball and gave them the freedom of the park.

The host’s equaliser came from the right Gordon cut inside two defenders and fired his shot passed Glenn Morris into the net. Crawley still hadn’t learnt a lesson from the equaliser and still allowed the defence to be dragged apart and with two minutes remaining McDonald cut in from the left again beating two defenders to fire a dripping shot over Morris into the net, this off the bar and post.

In added time both Ollie Palmer and Jordan Tunnicliffe who had been pushed up front could have equalised with headers but failed to either beat the keeper or put the effort wide of the post. The Red Devils had been undone and all the hard work of the earlier stages of the game meant nothing and no points for the first time in the New Year.

The 154 travelling supporters left the stadium bemoaning the timing and use of the substitutions – hopefully everyone will learn from this, both Management and Players.

On Saturday we have a home match against Grimsby, with Ian Holloway now manager it will be an interesting situation as on a previous visit with Millwall in a pre-season match he got really upset with a few of our West Stand supporters. It going to be another tight game and a game that the home side must come out and stamp their authority early on and keep it going – we don’t want another Walsall.

UP UP and Away-

A group of supporters have set up a new Facebook page – CTAD – Crawley Town Away Days – they are endeavouring to encourage more supporters to travel to away matches and have a good day out with the football being just part off it. https://www.facebook.com/groups/545417079523586/ is the link to the group.

Our overnight trip to the match against Plymouth Argyle next Tuesday week is full

Salford City on 8th February – We are getting really great numbers for this trip, we now have 99 booked on our two coaches so have just 15 seats remaining. Hopefully by the time we pull out of the Stadium we have two completely full coaches. We depart from the stadium at 7.30am and cost of the trip is again £20.00 and includes a buffet lunch on the way. Please contact Alain on 07771-792346 to book on any of these trips.

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