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Horsham's FA Cup replay win had Di Paola 'pulling his hair out'



Dominic Di Paola revealed he was ‘pulling his hair out at times’ during Horsham’s heart-stopping 3-2 FA Cup first qualifying round replay win over Metropolitan Police on Tuesday night.

Bilal Sayoud fired a marvellous swerving 20-yard strike past George Bentley to make it 1-0 Met on nine minutes.

Harvey Sparks equalised three minutes before half-time. The defender’s cross-cum-shot ended up flying into the top corner to level.

Chris Smith coolly slotted past Met keeper Charlie Burns to make it 2-1 on 48 minutes before the game ended in high drama.

The Old Bill levelled with ten minutes to go as Luke Robinson expertly curled the ball into the top corner. But, at the death, Smith, on the goal line, chested the ball home to spark pandemonium at The Camping World Community Stadium and set up a second qualifying round tie at home to National League South side Dartford on Saturday, September 21.

Di Paola said: “We made hard work of it but I thought we played some lovely football and created great chances. If we score some of those, the game’s pretty comfortable.

“When we missed those chance I said it was going to come back and haunt us and it did, and it always does. If you don’t take your chances, you have a massive chance of throwing things away.

“It was stressful, not straightforward, and I was pulling my hair out at times. It was a relief to get the win and get through to the next round.”

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Smith’s double saw the forward bag his seventh goal in as many games in all competitions for the Hornets in 2019/20.

The former South Park and Burgess Hill Town man has enjoyed an electric start to the season and Di Paola was full of praise for his contribution against the Met.

The Hornets manager added: “I think everything about his game was brilliant. I thought he was absolutely outstanding and you have to say fair play to him.

“There’s more to come from him but if you get the ball in the box you always have a chance with Smudge, because he’s got that natural finisher’s mindset. You can’t coach that.

“We’ve got lots of goal threat, and I’d never highlight someone, but I think he played really well”.

The Hornets played in front of a midweek crowd of 445 against Met. The attendance was made doubly impressive due to the game kicking off at the the same time as England’s televised World Cup qualifier with Kosovo.

Di Paola hailed the replay as the ‘the best atmosphere at the new ground by a mile’ and called on the club ‘to keep growing’ their burgeoning support.

He added: “I thought that was the best atmosphere we’ve had at the new ground by a mile. It was lively and felt like a proper football match in a proper ground, which is great.

“Last night the kids were there, cheering and shouting, and we’ve just got to keep growing that side of it.

“We need to make our home ground really feel like home, on and off the pitch, so it feels like Horsham Football Club and not just a facility”

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Crawley Town

Crawley Town v Plymouth Argyle: Reds look to move into play-off places



After Saturday’s 1-0 triumph over Mansfield, Crawley face another one of the teams tipped for promotion at the start of the season in Plymouth Argyle.

The Pilgrims were relegated from League One last season and were tipped to bounce straight back up, but they haven’t had the start they would’ve expected. Argyle currently sit 11th in League Two, three places and three points below Crawley.

After a bright start to the season, winning their opening two games, Argyle have only won once since then with three defeats, two draws and one victory. That victory was a 3-0 win over Walsall but that was four games ago, having lost two of their last three games.

This could be due to Plymouth’s poor away form, as they’ve lost three and won one of their four away games this season.

At home Argyle look a different team, as they have not been defeated at Home Park all season. Hopefully for Crawley their poor away form will continue and the Reds can make it four wins out of five on home soil.

This could be a big game for Crawley, as a win will guarantee the Reds move in to at least a play-off place, and depending on other results an automatic promotion spot.

However, if the result goes the other way Argyle will leapfrog Crawley. It’s a big game for both sides, who will both be looking to get themselves into promotion contention this season.

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Plymouth already have a lot of players who have gained promotion from League Two, as recently as last season. Lots of players and staff from Bury have moved to Argyle, in a bid to secure another promotion.

Manager Ryan Lowe was the man who got Bury promoted last season, and due to his move to Plymouth, a lot of former Bury players have followed him, as they look to get Plymouth back to League One at the first time of asking.

This shows that Crawley will be up for a tough game and will have to be at their best to pick up a win, despite Plymouth’s poor form.

Their could be a selection headache for Gabriele Cioffi, depending on whether players are fit to play. Tom Dallison missed Saturday’s game through injury but Jamie Sendles-White filled in and put in an excellent performance, on his home debut. Ashley Nadesan is another player who has been injured and if he is back fit, will be pushing for a starting position.

New signings Gyliano Van Velzen and Denzeil Boadu have also been working on their fitness since joining the club and might be able to play a part in Tuesday’s game against Plymouth.

It will be another tough test for Crawley, who will have to put in a good performance to pick up all three points.

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Crawley Town

‘I always dreamt this day would come again’ – New Crawley Town defender makes first football league appearance in three years



On September 17, 2016, Jamie Sendles-White’s football career was thrown into doubt after rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament during a League One match between Swindon and Bury.

Many dark days followed for the then-Swindon defender, who was ruled out of action for 12 months.

Having made just 15 appearances for The Robins, the centre-back wasn’t able to restore his place in the side, so had to move on. Following spells at Leyton Orient, Torquay United and St Albans City, Sendles-White is now looking to kick start his career at Crawley, where he has just made his first football league appearance in nearly three years in yesterday’s 1-0 win over Mansfield Town.

Speaking after the game, Sendles-White, 25, said: “I’ve spent the last couple of years rebuilding my career at Leyton Orient and Torquay. I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get me back into the league.

“That was always my aim and I’m finally able to say I’ve got here. I always dreamt that this day would come again.

“There were some hard days where I was in the gym on my own and having two/three operations. There were times I thought it would be hard to get back. I’ve put the work in and luckily enough I’m back in the league.

“The hard work doesn’t stop for me. I want to keep pushing on and keep getting some wins for Crawley. I don’t want to think too much about the injury. I try to look forward now.”

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Crawley Town head coach Cioffi: ‘It is not the moment to look at the table’

Sendles-White said yesterday’s victory was a ‘deserved three points’ for the Reds, with Bez Lubala’s second half strike proving the difference between the sides.

“We are delighted as a team, it was a tough game,” he said.

“It was a very good team performance. We defended very well and hit them on the counter.

“When we went 1-0 up, they had a go at us but we stayed strong and defended very well as a team. It was a hard earned three points.

“They had their chances but it was a testament to us that we kept going and created a lot of chances ourselves so.”

On his own performance and giving Gabrile Cioffi a defensive headache when Tom Dallison returns from injury, he added: “I was happy with it. I was rusty as I haven’t played for a while but I was very happy to be playing again. I felt solid and comfortable with Jordan [Tunnicliffe] next to me.

“As a manager that’s the decisions you want to be making. It’s a big and very competitive squad. We are all pushing each other everyday to get the best out of each other. We are reaping the awards now on the pitch.”

“I think fans watching the games are realising we have got a real team spirit there. There is a real togetherness. Hopefully they see that on the pitch and come in numbers again on Tuesday [at home against Plymouth Argyle].”

Victory takes the in-form Reds up to eighth in the table, and level on points with sixth-placed Cheltenham Town, who sit in the four play-off positions.

When asked how far Crawley can go this year, Sendles-White said: “We don’t get too carried away and make sure that we get to that 50 point mark. That’s our number one target at the minute.

“We need to keep putting on performances like that. Hopefully we can push on.

“We want to keep out feet on the ground. We’re focused on that 50 points so we are going to take it day by day and game by game and see what happens.”

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Crawley Town

Crawley Town head coach Cioffi: 'It is not the moment to look at the table'



Gabriel Cioffi cooled talk of Crawley Town reaching the League Two play-offs after the Reds’ 1-0 home win over Mansfield Town this (Saturday) afternoon.

Bez Lubala struck on 53 minutes to atone for his penalty miss on 26 minutes and move The People’s Pension Stadium outfit move up to eighth.

The Reds are now just one place outside the play-offs by virtue of goal difference. Cioffi’s charges have the same amount of points as sixth-placed Cheltenham Town and seventh-placed Bradford City (14 from eight) but are just a solitary goal behind the place-above Bantams.

Despite Crawley’s flying start to the 2019/20 league campaign, Cioffi was more concerned about Tuesday night’s game with Plymouth Argyle, although he did admit the Reds can ‘be proud’ after a hard-fought win.

He said: “If we need 50 points to win the play-offs we are happy. If we need 50 points to be safe we are happy.

“We don’t have to fly up to the sky, we are humble people. We will enjoy the next game and we will enjoy tonight. This is normal.

“We’ve got to prepare for Plymouth which is in just three days. It is not the moment to look at the table.

“It is not the time to be different. Now is the moment to look at ourselves and be proud of our DNA.”

Victory over the Stags extended the Reds’ unbeaten league run to four. The People’s Pension Stadium outfit have also notched up the impressive feat of scoring in every game in 2019/20.

With the feel-good factor back at Crawley, head coach Cioffi paid tribute to the tireless work of his backroom staff after an outstanding start to the new season.

He added: The big thanks we have to say is to the staff. From Marcus (Doyle, the kit manager) to my assistant Edu (Rubio), we are working hard.

“Everyone is overloaded but the results have paid off. It’s thanks to them for the result.”

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